Sacramento Transportation Authority hears presentations on air quality standards for proposed Measure A projects



As the Sacramento Transporation Authority (STA) proceeds in its decision-making process to determine if it will seek to place a one-half cent countywide sales tax increase measure on the November ballot, it is holding three meetings in February. Yesterday was the first of those three meetings scheduled for this month. 

The STA is the multi-jurisdictional agency responsible for the disbursement of Sacramento County sales taxes earmarked for a variety of transit projects, is in a months-long deliberation process to decide whether or not to pursue the so-called Measure A. If the measure does make it to the ballot and it is approved, it is projected to raise about $8.5 billion over its 40-year life. 

While past meetings focused on hearing the proposal on projects want by board members and interest groups, yesterday's meeting narrowly dealt with how the proposed projects might affect clean air attainment. That information was requested at the regular January meeting by STA director and Sacramento City Councilmember Steve Hanson, who has been pushing for increased mass transit funding in Measure A.

Providing reports on air quality attainment were Dr. Alberto Ayala of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District and James Corless, executive director of Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG).  

In his comments, Corless said while the data they presented to the directors is imperfect, it is vital because it is the same information submitted to the state and federal governments for air quality reports. Those reports, in turn, are used to determine state and federal transportation grants.  

"The date is imperfect, as it often is, but it is important," he said.

Ayala told the directors that while the region has met goals in reducing particulate pollution, federal standards require that those levels can be maintained. 

"It's a good news story because we are there, but we cannot rest easy because we need to be mindful of what new projects can do for attainment," he said. 

Regarding ozone standards, Ayala said the region had not met those standards. Of note, Ayala said these standards are getting more stringent over time.

"The science on the public health effects of pollution is getting better and generally pointing to more and more stringent standards," Ayala said. 

Unlike previous meetings where fissures between urban and suburban directors of how the $8.5 billion might be allocated were apparent, at this meeting, they were nuanced. Suburban directors like Elk Grove City Councilmembers Pat Hume and Darren Suen, who seek more funding for highway expansion, especially the Southeast Connector road, were at odds with mass transit and air quality improvement advocates like Hanson and Sacramento County Board of Supervisor Phil Serna.

In his comments, Serna said Measure A "has to be tempered with a global consideration" and bold action is needed. Serna said the mentality of people using single-occupant vehicles needs to change, especially as it relates to climate change. 

"It is part of our charge to push the envelope when it comes to how we shape this measure, with the eye toward we have a local responsibility to help address climate change," Serna stated. "We all have to ultimately look at ourselves in the mirror and say, are we doing our part in this agency given our mission to address that global responsibility."  

Suen, who is the chair of the STA, noted there are complexities in the various transportation projects under consideration as part of Measure A that voters will not understand. 

"As leaders on this board, it is our job to educate our voters and constituents," Suen said. "Because these details about and state federal regulations are somewhat complex, that the average voter does not understand it."  

The entire meeting audio is below. 





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2 comments

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Suen, who is the chair of the STA, noted there are complexities in the various transportation projects under consideration as part of Measure A that voters will not understand.

"As leaders on this board, it is our job to educate our voters and constituents," Suen said. "Because these details about and state federal regulations are somewhat complex, that the average voter does not understand it."

Dear Mr. Suen, I am sorry I cannot find my crayons to write you a personal letter. Please understand that we voters are just simple-minded country bumpkins who rely on people like you to educate us.

Please tell us how to vote so our sales tax dollars go to a good cause ok? I don't know what all this talk is about air quality. When I look up, I see blue sky? What's the problem? Now I will tell you, when I drive my turnip wagon over those potholes, it makes my crayons fall all over the place. Please help us!

Sincerely,
DJ Blutarsky

Spoons and Forks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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