It was a tough election: with reasons to celebrate, and much work ahead. Nationally, a divide continues which will likely stymie Federal efforts to help those most in need, much less approve transit funding or a new Federal transportation plan.
Despite inspirational organizing by progressive leaders statewide and locally, organized property interests thwarted efforts to protect renters, reform commercial property taxes, and allow multi-family housing zoning. We know that access to transportation and access to affordable housing are linked. If there is a bright spot, two encouraging trends may emerge 1) support for defunding police and reinvesting in community services may increase with stronger police commissions in Berkeley and Oakland and candidates supportive of disarming traffic enforcement, and 2) many new and re-elected statewide representatives supportive of much-needed housing production.
Our priority statewide campaign, Yes on Proposition 15: Schools and Communities First, came up just short of voter approval at 48%. We thank the many volunteers who hopped on the phones to call voters in support. As remaining votes are counted, if Prop 15 does not gain another 2+ percentage points, schools and cities are going to suffer in the coming years, and AC Transit will be facing a $25-30 million annual budget shortfall. We are turning our attention to Sacramento and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to push for reallocation of existing transportation money to fund transit operations. Without convenient, frequent, reliable transit, more people will drive.
Speaking of more people driving, Uber and Lyft succeeded in passing Proposition 22, which enshrines in state law that gig workers are contractors, not employees, and state protections for workers don’t protect their drivers. Prop 22 does include some modest help for drivers, but don’t get your hopes too high for this. Expect to see more rideshare vehicles on the streets when economic activity increases and students are back in school.
In Alameda, Bike East Bay endorsed Measure Z failed, which would have allowed apartment buildings. In Berkeley, Bike East Bay endorsed Measure GG passed, a tax on Uber and Lyft rides. We will work with Walk Bike Berkeley to push for spending this new revenue on traffic safety improvements. On the peninsula, Measure RR passed. Voters approved Caltrain’s ⅛ cent sales tax in the counties of Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco. This was critically needed funding and we give a shout out to Adina Levin and Friends of Caltrain for their herculean efforts reaching out to voters in the campaign.
Several active transportation-supportive candidates ran for office and won. Preston Jordan of Albany received more votes than any other candidate for City Council and will bring a wealth of walking and bicycling knowledge to Council, Walk Oakland Bike Oakland super volunteer Jean Walsh easily won a seat on the AC Transit Board, and Lateefah Simon won reelection to the BART Board District 7. However, Bike East Bay Board member Steven Dunbar came up just short of unseating BART District 5 Director John McPartland, and Najari Smith of Rich City Rides didn’t succeed in his attempt to win a City Council seat in Richmond.
Defund the Police
Both Berkeley and Oakland passed local measures to significantly strengthen their Police Commissions, and each elected a new Councilmember who supports efforts to Defund the Police. Terry Taplin unseats Cheryl Davila in District 2 and in Oakland Carroll Fife unseats Lynette McElhaney in District 3. Bike East Bay is actively involved in efforts in both cities to disarm traffic enforcement and form/strengthen transportation planning to reduce the need for any enforcement, armed or not.