High drama in Santa Clara County, where Measure B now has exactly the 66.67% needed for passage as of Monday afternoon's update. Measure B is of course the 1/8 cent sales tax increase to help bring BART to downtown San José. In the comments on yesterday's post peter noted that "the Yes vote right now is at 66.6679741% Out of 611,886 there are 8 more yes votes than exactly 2/3rds." The next update is likely to come early next week and the vote must be certified on December 2. BART supporters are growing more optimistic about their prospects:
As the absentee ballots were counted, the yes votes crept higher — but not, it seemed, quickly enough. But as provisional ballots began to be verified late last week, the yes votes started coming in at a much higher rate.
Counts taken Friday and Monday came in with 73 percent-plus support for Measure B, pushing it to the two-thirds level overall.
"It shows the strength of support for BART in this county," said San Jose State University political-science Professor Terry Christensen. "Over and over voters have proven how much they want BART. This is not just a bond, but a tax increase. That makes it more astonishing."
Christensen believes the late surge is coming from young voters, who tend to be more supportive of mass transit, and who may have been more heavily represented among the late and provisional ballots.
"That is a very valid theory," he said. "It really is attributed to an effective campaign that they ran. I know they worked the college campuses very hard, and it's the young voters I know who are very supportive of BART. That was smart on their part."
Further evidence that here in California the 2008 election was a wave election for mass transit, creating powerful new momentum and public support for rail projects that ought to quiet the deniers and doubters for some time to come.
Meanwhile, the San Jose Mercury News filed a "Questions remain about HSR" article which does little more than state the obvious: there are still some decisions to make on the Peninsula:
"Up to this point, we've had very limited discussions of a very general nature," [Caltrain spokeswoman Christine] Dunn said. "I know people are very anxious to know what's going to happen next and how it's going to impact their communities, but a lot of those questions at this point are unanswered."
What particularly appeals to Caltrain about the high-speed project is the proposed widening of its tracks and construction of grade separations up and down the Peninsula because bullet trains must run above or below street level....
The high-speed rail authority also has yet to decide where the bullet train will stop, though Millbrae, Redwood City and Palo Alto have been named as potential stops.
We'll obviously be discussing those decisions in much greater detail over the coming months, but it's worth reminding ourselves that these are normal decisions that get made in any major transportation project. My own view is that Millbrae/SFO and Palo Alto would be the best choices for HSR stops.
That Merc article also points out that even though Menlo Park is party to a lawsuit against the HSR project, the city voted FOR Prop 1A:
The cities of Atherton and Menlo Park in August joined a lawsuit challenging the environmental report for the train's route, claiming it underestimates the impact it would have on communities.
Despite elected officials' opposition, Menlo Park voters approved the high-speed rail bond measure while Atherton voters struck it down, according to unofficial election results updated Friday.
Menlo Park voted 57.4 percent in favor of the project compared to 42.6 percent opposed out of 14,021 votes cast. Atherton rejected the measure with 46 percent in favor to 54 percent against, a margin of about 300 votes out of 3,918 cast.
Perhaps Menlo Park wants to reconsider? There's still time to drop out of the lawsuit. Given stressed city budgets this doesn't exactly seem like a good time to spend taxpayer money to sue a project your voters supported.