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April 12, 2016 — Abril elecciones regulares
Local

City of Rancho Mirage
Measure 4 Advisory Question - Majority Approval Required

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Because in 2002 County voters approved Measure A, which is a ½ cent increase in our sales tax to be used to repair dilapidated and crumbling roads and highways in the Coachella Valley, should CVAG be allowed to divert up to $20 million dollars ($20,000,000) from this Measure A fund, to pay for the construction of the Neighborhood Electric Vehicles portion of the CV Link?

¿Qué es esta propuesta?

Información básica sobre la iniciativa de ley — Información oficial sobre esta iniciativa

Análisis del analista legislativo / Proposal

Steven B. Quintanilla, Rancho Mirage City Attorney

The City of Rancho Mirage is authorized pursuant to California Elections Code Section 9603 to hold an advisory election for the purpose of enabling qualified voters of the City to voice their opinions on substantive issues pertaining to the proposed CV Link project. As such, the results of Measure 4 will provide an indication of general voter opinion regarding whether CVAG should be allowed to use $20,000,000 of Measure A funds to pay for the construction and/or maintenance of CV Link.

Measure A (as codified in Ordinance No. 02-001) is a one-half cent sales tax that was approved by the voters in 1988 and was extended in 2002 by the voters for an additional thirty-year term. Measure A is considered to be a "special tax." The California Constitution defines a "special tax" as any tax imposed for specific purposes and Government Code Section 53724 (e) specifically provides that "[t]he revenues from any special tax shall be used only for the purpose or service for which it was imposed, and for no other purpose whatsoever."

The specific purposes of Measure A funds for the Coachella Valley Area are limited to the following:

  • Improve traffic flow and reduce congestion on Highway 111;
  • Add / improve interchanges on Highway 86 and I-10;
  • Provide funding for local streets and roads improvements;
  • Improve Safety and Visibility at Major Intersections and Arterial Roads;
  • Reduce congestion by improving major roadways identified as important by local governments in the Coachella Valley;
  • Provide Express East-West Transit Routes in the Coachella Valley; and
  • Improve and expand public and specialty transit service.

To ensure that Measure A funds are only used for the specific purposes presented to and approved by the voters, as required by Government Code Section 53724 (e), Measure A mandates that an annual financial audit of program expenditures be conducted to verify that all Measure A funds are expended in accordance with the CVAG Transportation Program set forth in Ordinance No. 02-001.

At the February 2012 CVAG Executive Committee meeting, the Executive Committee approved using $20,000,000 of Measure A funds for CV Link. The Master Plan specifically states that CVAG planned to complete a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) Transportation Plan in 2015 that will consist of 211 miles of various NEV paths, lanes and routes that will include CV Link. California Streets & Highways Code Section 1962, et seq. is the legal authority that authorizes the establishment of a NEV Transportation Plan in Riverside County. Section 1962, however, was not adopted until 2011 —nine years after Measure A was presented to the voters for its thirty-year extension. As such, it was not included as one of the specific purposes of Measure A. As a special tax, Measure A is subject to Government Code Section 53724 (e), which provides that its revenues shall be used only for the purpose for which it was imposed, and for no other purpose whatsoever.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Argumento A FAVOR

Rancho Mirage City officials are quick to bring up Measure A when discussing CV Link. Here's the truth: Not a single dime of “Measure A” funding has been used for CV Link.

"Measure A" is a half-cent sales tax that Riverside County voters approved so we could invest in our transportation network. The money has made a huge difference for our entire Valley by improving the way traffic flows along Highway 111, constructing new interchanges along Interstate 10 and a long list of other projects. Nowhere in "Measure A" does it state that money must be used for "dilapidated and crumbling roads." Every time you exit Interstate 10 at Bob Hope Drive, you can thank the voters for supporting a proactive approach to addressing traffic and congestion.

"Measure A" is important, but it is not the only source of funding that the Coachella Valley Association of Governments uses for transportation projects. It is used to fund the region's priority projects, as long as the local cities or jurisdictions can agree to match some of the costs with their own funding.

The CVAG Executive Committee voted in 2012 to commit $20 million in transportation funds for CV Link — but only if it doesn't delay construction of other pending high-priority projects. They did it as a match, and secured more than $55 million in grants with the commitment. Our own Mayor voted to support the idea.

The lawyers that crafted the original "Measure A" ordinance opinion is that it can be a funding source for CV Link. But that doesn't mean it will be. Again, the $20 million could come from a variety of sources. www.friendsofCVLink.com 

VOTE YES on Measure 4 —just like Mayor Hobart voted yes to approve this funding.

— City of Rancho Mirage

Argumento EN CONTRA

In 2002 Riverside County voters approved Measure A, a 1/2 cent increase in our sales taxes. Measure A mandates that this money "will be used for State highways and regional road improvements." The Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) will receive about $19 million of these Measure A funds during FY 2015-2016 and CVAG plans to give $20 million to CV Link.

CVAG is currently rewriting the rules to build an argument in support of their effort to divert over 20 million of our Measure A funds to help build the brand new CV Link; money which was promised to be spent on repairing and replacing dilapidated roadways, intersections and bridges in the Coachella Valley. Never before have our Regional Measure A funds been spent on an utterly brand new project.

CVAG is charged with protecting our Regional Measure A funds and distributing them among the 250 identified and prioritized unsafe roadways in the Coachella Valley. With the advent of the CV Link, however, CVAG has abandoned its role as a sentry guarding our Regional Measure A funds to becoming the fox guarding the hen house. CVAG was entrusted to protect our funds and it has failed.

CVAG justifies this abandonment of established policy in favor of constructing two lanes of travel (7' wide each) on the CV Link for Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs). NEVs must be licensed and insured, have turn signals, capable of reaching 25MPH, etc.

Furthermore, as CVAG concedes, there are only 440 NEVs registered in the Coachella Valley; most are probably being used commercially. They are a dying breed of vehicle according to CVAG and sales authorities in the field. As CVAG's NEV Plan states, "the NEV fleet has not grown over the last decade."

We recommend a "No" vote on this effort to misuse Measure A funds.

— City of Rancho Mirage

Refutación al argumento A FAVOR

The following individuals signed the official rebuttal in favor for Measure 4:

  • Gary Lueders, Vice President of Friends of CV Link 
  • Larry Parish, Retired CEO in Riverside County 
  • Robert Brockman, Former Rancho Mirage Community Development Director 
  • David Fierstone, Desert Bicycle Club Member 
  • Roger Snoble, Retired CEO of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The irony is not lost that Mayor Hobart approved a $20 million commitment to CV Link, and is now using this expensive election to justify why he is backtracking. 

The $20 million that Mayor Hobart and the majority of the CVAG Executive Committee authorized in 2012 was for "transportation funding." That included a long list of funding options, not just Measure A. In fact, NO MEASURE A FUNDING HAS BEEN USED FOR CV LINK. If Measure A funds do get used, it will be because it will not delay construction of other pending high-priority projects. 

Rancho Mirage is using this expensive election on slanted "advisory measures" to backtrack on an April2014 vote where the city agreed to add CV Link and similar projects to the list of projects that deserve transportation dollars. Despite what the argument claims, this was done without "rewriting the rules" or the "abandonment of established policy." 

The Council's argument for this ballot measure is full of inaccuracies. For example, the Council states that Measure A funding has "never before ... been spent on an utterly brand new project." Do they forget that our elected officials spent Measure A funding on an "utterly brand new" bridge to make sure we could travel safely along Dinah Shore Drive? 

The world is changing, and we need to plan for the future.

Don't be fooled by the Council's misinformed argument. VOTE YES on Measure 4 

— City of Rancho Mirage

Refutación al argumento EN CONTRA

The following individuals signed the official rebuttal argument against Measure 4:

  • Dana Hobart, Mayor of Rancho Mirage 
  • Ted Weill, Mayor Pro-tem of Rancho Mirage 
  • Richard W. Kite, City Council Member 
  • Iris M. Smotrich, City Council Member
  • Charles Townsend Vinci, City Council Member

The bicycle club (Friends of CV Link) contends that because Mayor Hobart once voted (February 27, 2012) to allocate Measure A funds for CV Link, that mistake should continue on. 

As Mayor Hobart has explained, "My mistake was relying on CVAG's representation that CV Link was a proper use of Measure A funds." It is not. 

The Measure A Ordinance Riverside County voters approved (2002) requires that all of CVAG's "Measure A revenues will be used for State highways and regional road improvements." The Preamble states, ''The transportation system in Riverside County is rapidly deteriorating... Maintenance and repairs ... cannot be accomplished with available funds. Without additional funds, the system will bog down and pavement will crumble into permanent disrepair." 

Our Coachella Valley regional Measure A funds have never been used other than to repair or rebuild debilitated roads, intersections, bridges, etc. Clearly, building a brand new bike/electric vehicle/pedestrian path does not qualify. 

The lawyers referenced by the Friends of CV Link are those who represent CVAG and also CVAG's parent organization, Riverside County Transportation Commission. Other lawyers disagree. CVAG voted down Rancho Mirage's motion to hire an independent, outside law firm, to evaluate the Measure A legal issues.

Various documents and Executive Director Tom Kirk's own words make it clear CVAG intends to withdraw $20,000,000 of Measure A funds for CV Link construction costs and at least $600,000 each year for Operations and Maintenance expense - while stubbornly refusing to submit it to a vote of the people.

Nothing justifies squandering those Measure A funds voters in 2002 intended to be spent on Coachella Valley's debilitated roadway infrastructure.

City Council Recommendation: Vote NO. 

— City of Rancho Mirage

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