The Odds on Mayor Adler’s $720 Million Mobility Bond
Is the plan just daring enough to work?
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In the Foxhole
On the dais, where do things stand? Mayor Adler told the Chronicle recently that while he'd certainly appreciate Council unity on the bond, he's not surprised that a districted Council, "with plenty of different perspectives," holds differing opinions. And to greater or lesser degrees, the Council majority is supporting the proposition. The strongest supporter, other than Adler, is Greg Casar, who during Council discussions urged his colleagues to consider even larger infrastructure expenditures, including the possibility of adding rail as a separate ballot item. Pio Renteria noted that the long neglect of the major corridors was increasingly dangerous, and said the city needs to move forward. Kitchen said she was still daunted by the scale of the bond – she would have preferred $500 million – but was reassured by amendments that looked forward to eventual road work in her district, and said, "On balance, I believe that we've taken some steps where we can work very expeditiously on ... other needs" like affordable housing and flood mitigation.
Garza, who had abstained on the final vote, said she remained too concerned about those broader needs to consider transportation the city's first priority, especially when her own southeast district would apparently see little benefit. More recently, she told the Chronicle that while she remains uneasy about future bond capacity, she considers herself "very neutral" on the proposition itself. "There are lots of good things in there," she said, "and I realize it's the first step in a large investment. I'm all in favor of big investments in infrastructure, if they're needed. But I was just not happy with the process. I thought it was very rushed."
Zimmerman and Troxclair were disappointed with the final shape of the ballot language because, they argued, it was insufficient to explain the eventual cost to taxpayers, and because it is presented as a group package, and not three separate votes. But both were pleased at the inclusion of the regional western highways that will serve their northwest and southwest constituents. Troxclair, who recently gave birth, has been off the dais on family leave, and has not taken an obvious public position on the bond campaign. Zimmerman, in the middle of a re-election campaign, is both feuding with opponent Jimmy Flannigan over who gets credit for including Anderson Mill Road in the bond projects – and (in campaign ads) mocking the bond's spending on bike trails and bike lanes.
Houston's position on the dais was that the process was too "rushed" and that it was based on decisions made prior to the 10-1 Council, and therefore not representative of the whole community. Although she was able to make amendments on the dais that included moving additional funding into District 1 sidewalks – making amends for her earlier motion to distribute the funds by district – she would not be placated for the final vote. Houston particularly bristled whenever the mayor mentioned "the coalition" (the range of organizations, from real estate groups to bike advocates) that he had consulted in compiling the proposal, and hoped would support the eventual campaign. She felt "bullied," she said, "by a very exclusive group of people."
"My issue," said Houston, "is about the fact that this plan represents others making decisions that people who were not part of that conversation had no opportunity to make." Entering the abbreviated campaign, the mayor would go forward with a less united enthusiasm from the dais than he might have hoped for.