Renewal of Measure U in Sacramento

September 10, 2018

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) has submitted a letter in response to the renewal of Measure U in Sacramento. The content of the letter is below.

Dear Mayor and City Council:

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) agrees with the concerns about the renewal of Measure U expressed in a recent letter from neighborhood groups and their supporters to the Sacramento City Council. We are also concerned that a permanent extension of the City’s local sales tax measure (Measure U) without significant changes in community engagement, budget process, and oversight will mean that City residents who will pay this tax will have no way to ensure that the funds collected are used for the greatest and most equitable community benefit.

ECOS generally supports the four proposals outlined in the letter submitted from the neighborhood groups:

  1. There should be meaningful comminity engagement for all plans and pending decisions that represents our diverse communities. This process should begin well before a final plan or decision is released, and all comments and documents received in that engagement should be publicly available. Engagement should prioritize low-income communities and communities of color.
  2. Once per year, with the annual budget, the City should conduct an assessment of the impact on disadvantaged communities by the previous year spending and proposed spending for the next fiscal year.
  3. The City should implement a participatory budgeting process to get meaningful public input on the spending that will be proposed for each annual budget. This process must conclude before any final budget is proposed for the next fiscal year and include meaningful community engagement. Any final recommendations should include a racial impact assessment of proposed spending.
  4. There should be meaningful citizen budget oversight through a citizen oversight committee that has the ability to convene meetings when the committee deems necessary and to provide recommendations to the City on budget spending and proposals.

We request that the City Council take formal action to adopt these requests before the November election. We look forward to working with you to institute these long-needed changes to the City’s planning and budget process.

Sincerely,
Ralph Propper
ECOS President

To access the letter in PDF, click here.

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Evening Hours on Light Rail Gold Line Extended!

June 14, 2018

A win for the Sacramento region! 

While light rail trains on the Gold Line previously stopped running before 7:00 pm, they will now run until 11:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 9:30 p.m. on Sunday!

How did this come to be?

Ten years ago, ECOS brought a lawsuit against Caltrans when it proposed adding lanes to Highway 50 to create High Occupancy Vehicle (“HOV”) lanes. Since these lanes are only restricted to High Occupancy Vehicles during certain hours, adding new lanes for this purpose is essentially just a widening of the freeway.

Freeway-widening induces urban sprawl, increases Vehicle Miles Traveled, increase greenhouse gas emissions and does not reduce traffic congestion after all.

That lawsuit was settled in 2008 when Caltrans agreed to pay $7.5 million to SacRT for improved light rail service between Folsom and Sacramento, along the Highway 50 corridor.

In 2017, Caltrans again proposed to create HOV lanes by adding more lanes to Highway 50 without adequately dealing with induced demand for sprawl development and additional miles traveled. Again, ECOS sued.

ECOS met with SacRT to determine what funding from settlement of this lawsuit would help public transit the most along this section of Highway 50, and it was determined that expanding light rail service past 7:00pm would be best, so Caltrans settled by agreeing to provide funding for that purpose.

At ECOS, reducing vehicle trips is an essential part of our work, and new service like this goes a long way toward helping us reach our goals. This project will open up car-free options to many people, as trips that were only possible in a vehicle are now possible via public transit. We are proud to be a part of this effort.

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ECOS gets Light Rail to Run Later

June 4, 2018

Beginning June 17, 2018, SacRT’s Gold Line light rail service to Folsom will be expanded into the late night hours!

ECOS helped bring this about with our Highway 50 HOV lane lawsuit! While we weren’t able to stop extra lanes being added to the freeway, we were able to get the light rail trains that run between Sacramento and Folsom (servicing neighborhoods in between such as the University area, Tahoe Park, College Greens and Rancho Cordova) to run past 7:00 pm! While light rail trains on the Gold Line previously stopped running before 7:00 pm, they will now run until 11:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 9:30 p.m. on Sunday!

More info about the increased service hours at http://www.sacrt.com/apps/folsomlatenight/.

More info about this settlement at https://www.ecosacramento.net/tag/hov-lanes/.

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