Coachella Valley communities, from Palm Springs to Indio, and places in between, stand to lose millions of dollars that are earmarked for road improvements, bridge repair, and relieving traffic congestion if Proposition 6 passes in November.
Public leaders across political parties are concerned about the impacts. It’s more than a ballot measure; it’s become personal to community leaders.
Here is a snapshot of what would happen in the Coachella Valley if Proposition 6 passes. Millions are in jeopardy:
- Palm Desert would be deprived of approximately $500,000 in Fiscal Year 2018-19.
- Palm Springs would be stripped of millions, $13.3 million to be exact, over the next 10 years.
- La Quinta would say goodbye to an estimated $675,500 For Fiscal Year 2018.
- Cathedral City would lose about $1 million.
- Indio would forfeit $1.3 an estimated million
Proposition 6 would repeal Senate Bill 1, which created the statewide gas tax. SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, is estimated to raise more than $50 billion, not just millions, for transportation projects in California during the next decade. The receipts will come from the statewide gas tax, which went into effect Nov. 1, 2017 and raised fuel prices by an additional 12 cents a gallon. The money will be split equally between state and local projects.
“I have to be very honest,” Palm Desert Mayor Sabby Jonathan told Uken Report. “I have mixed feelings about it. From a councilmember standpoint, I would not like to see the gas tax repealed because our city benefits in terms of revenues. We have needs that we plan to use those revenues for. So, wearing my mayor’s and councilmember’s hat, I would not like to see the tax repealed.”
However, he added, “In my opinion, Prop. 6 has come about because of the inefficiencies we see coming out of Sacramento. We as a city did support proposition 69 that would restrict funds generated by the gas tax to the purpose for which they were intended. In my opinion, had Sacramento done that we probably wouldn’t be sitting here debating Prop .6.”
One of the projects that could fall victim to the repeal would be repaving Monterey Avenue from the White Water Channel to Hovley Lane West in Palm Desert. A project to repave Cook Street from Gerald Ford Drive to Frank Sinatra Drive is also scheduled for this fiscal year.
In La Quinta, City Manager Frank Prevacek said future projects identified in the five-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) worth millions are: La Quinta Village Complete Streets Road Diet, Highway 111 at La Quinta Center Drive (dual left turn lanes), Dune Palms Road Pavement Rehabilitation (Fred Waring Drive to Miles Avenue), Fred Waring Drive Pavement Rehabilitation (Washington Street to Palm Royale Drive). The total projected funds over the next five years amounts to millions — $3,515,042 (from FY 2018-19 to FY 2022-23).
Cathedral City Mayor Stan Henry has called Prop 6 is “the most dangerous and destructive initiative on the November ballot.
“As Mayor, I know Prop 6 jeopardizes critically needed transportation funding for our community,” Henry said. “But as a former law enforcement officer and police chief, I also know that Prop 6 jeopardizes public safety. Every first responder can tell you that well-maintained roads are essential to protect public safety. By repealing desperately needed road repair funding, Prop 6 will put the traveling public at risk of more accidents, injuries and fatalities. Prop 6 must be defeated at the polls.”
The city of Palm Springs just completed the 2017-18 Slurry Seal Project, which included $270,000 in gas tax funds, according to Assistant City Manager Marcus Fuller. In addition, the City Council awarded a contract for the Indian Canyon Drive two-way conversion on Sept. 5, which will include $790,000 in gas tax funds.
Palm Springs Mayor Robert Moon called Prop 6 a “very misguided effort” that threatens safety on the roads.
“This is funding that our community desperately needs to repair aging bridges, improve road safety, relieve traffic congestion, fix potholes and invest in mass transit to improve our commutes and environment,” Moon said. “The truth is, there are no partisan potholes, only dangerous potholes. That’s why we must all come together and vote no on Prop 6.”
The $10.3 million reconstruction project on Highway 111 in Indio is being paid for with a variety of financial resources, including SB 1 funds.
The reconstruction of a two-mile section of Highway 111 between Rubidoux Street to west of Madison Street began in January to widen the roadway to three lanes in each direction; and to replace and upgrade pavement, traffic signals, sidewalks, driveways and access ramps.
The Highway 111 Street Improvement Project in Indio is designed to increase safety for drivers and pedestrians, improve access to local businesses, prepare for future economic development projects, and accommodate future traffic with thousands of people visiting and moving to Indio every year as the largest and fastest growing city in eastern Riverside County.
If SB 1 is repealed, that money will be lost and projects shelved.
SB 1 includes strict accountability provisions to ensure these funds only are spent on transportation projects. SB 1 also mandates the Office of Inspector General to oversee spending and make sure funding is spent efficiently and appropriately. In fact, millions of voters will be asked to vote on a statewide ballot proposition in 2018 to protect the SB1 revenues in the state constitution so Sacramento politicians can’t divert the SB 1 funding for other purposes.
The League of California Cities is encouraging a “No” vote on Prop. 6 saying, “This measure would eliminate funding for more than 6,500 bridge and road safety, transportation and public transit improvement projects currently underway throughout California.”
“As a firefighter I’ve seen first-hand how critical it is to make our roads and bridges safer in California,” Tim Strack, President of the Riverside City Firefighters Association and Commissioner of the California Seismic Safety Commission said. “As a first responder here in Riverside County, I know that delayed response times are critical minutes lost when it comes to saving lives. Congested and crumbling roads and bridges, especially when too few meet modern seismic safety standards, can delay those response times and jeopardize public safety.”
Proposition 6 earned a spot on the statewide ballot in June after garnering more than the 585,407 signatures of registered voters required, according to a random sample count announced by state officials.