This is how San Mateo County is letting us know about their resurfacing work in La Honda and how it is being funded. In fact, these projects are among the first 10 road safety and improvement projects to be funded in the County by Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. SB 1, as you may recall, was signed into law last year by Governor Brown to raise more than $5 billion annually from a higher fuel tax and a new vehicle registration fee to pay for road repairs and improvements to mass transit systems across the state. The funding, totaling $100 billion over the next 10 years, is dedicated to road repair, easing traffic congestion, improving public transit and making safety improvements.
La Honda, like so many communities around the state, has suffered for years from ruinous potholes and crumbling roads. In fact, statewide there is a $130 billion backlog of much needed road repair and maintenance projects.
Now, the funding for all those repairs, including funding for the repair of Scenic Drive in La Honda which was ruinously ruptured in last winter’s storms, is in jeopardy because a measure to repeal the gas tax that funds those repairs is on the November ballot. This ballot measure, if not defeated, will have a direct and adverse impact on anyone who drives or rides in a car in La Honda -- in other words, all of us.
San Mateo County, which maintains most of the roads in Cuesta, La Honda, is due to receive approximately $3.3 million in new revenue from SB 1 gas tax monies for the 2017-18 fiscal year and approximately $9.6 million in the 2018-19 fiscal year. In total, the California Department of Transportation estimates our County will receive approximately $100 million in new revenue over the next 10 years from the SB 1 gas tax.
For remote communities like La Honda in which residents have to drive many miles to get to work, to school, to the doctor or to shop, the state of our roads is a serious concern. With no public transportation we depend on our roads to be safe, open and reliable and, hopefully, not a hazard to our vehicles. And now with one of our major roads, Scenic Drive, being completely destroyed and in dire need of expensive repair, the fate of the gas tax is of paramount concern. Jim Porter, the Director of Public Works for San Mateo County put it to us in simple and stark terms -- if the gas tax is repealed, the County will not have the funds to fix Scenic Drive.
In a recent interview Porter said, “Our SB 1 funding nearly doubles the amount of money that we have for roadway maintenance and repairs. What we’re going to do with those funds is to really step up our street resurfacing and pothole repair program.” That sounds good to residents of La Honda, but it certainly won’t happen if the gas tax is repealed.
Sure, we don’t like paying taxes, but the reality is that they pay for essential services – like road repair. Just imagine if the residents of Cuesta had to pay the estimated $3 million dollars to fix Scenic Drive? I’d hazard a guess that it would be many years, if ever, before the road was fixed and even then, it would be at great cost to each and every homeowner in Cuesta.
And it’s not like we only drive in La Honda. Everywhere else we travel in California would be adversely affected by a loss of the gas tax revenues. The repeal would stop or threaten more than 5,000 transportation improvement projects already underway around the state, make traffic congestion worse and cost motorists more in the long run by requiring car repairs from damage suffered on bad roads. In fact, according to a 2016 TRIP Report from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the average California driver pays an additional $739 annually for car repairs due to driving on poor roads (think popped tires, realigned axels). For those of us in La Honda who generally have to drive many more miles than the average Californian, car repair costs may be even greater.
So, for the sake of our own safety and ease of driving here in La Honda and throughout California, on November 6th, I’m going to vote No on the measure to repeal the gas tax.