May 10, 1990
Citizens Against Unfair Taxation
P.O. Box 2417
Newport Beach, California 92663
Re: NO On Prop. 111
Since our press conference on Monday, I spoke against Prop. 111 at a debate at Santa Rosa Jr. College (televised), and have gathered some thoughts on how we might fight it.
I don't think it is a good strategy to say that we want the highways built, since many voters are tired of smog and want public transit instead. Many people, for example, would object to having highways be funded out of their pet cause (welfare, etc.). A better strategy is to point out the damage that highway expansion would do, and the enormous financial waste involved. Especially since it won't do what it promises to do.
Prop. 111 is a pack of lies, from the title on down. Proponents say there are "two" transportation measures on the ballot, when there are three. It doesn't "limit" spending, but increases it. It doesn't decrease congestion, but increases it. And then there is the biggest lie:
Everyone, including the League of Women Voters, is saying that it will cost drivers $60/year. Did you know that most of the highway projects (e.g in the 1988 STIP) require a 50% local match? That means that counties will have to pass local sales taxes to match the state funds. Therefore, everyone, even non-drivers and the poor, will have to pay for more highways! That should raise that figure considerably. I wonder if Tom McClintock included that in his calculation of the $9164 per family? The idea that only highway users will pay for the highway expansion is obviously a big lie!
According to Lionel Gambill of Friends of the Coast, the automobile produces, per passenger, 209 times the hydrocarbon air pollutants as trains, 753 times the CO, and uses 13 times the land area. We need to expand the solution (public transit), not the problem (the automobile).
Many people say we need to build more highways in order to bolster the economy. However, since 1987, Japan is now the richest country in the world. They have done that by relying on public transit, rather than the automobile (except that they sell us cars!).
Research proving that highway expansion worsens, rather than improves, congestion, air pollution, and fuel consumption, was done by Professors Peter Newman and Jeff Kenworthy of Australia over the last 26 years (I have copies if you need them). Highway people are very familiar with this research, but have chosen to ignore it, for obvious reasons. Obviously, freeway expansion can't reduce congestion. The only way to reduce congestion permanently is to apply disincentives to driving, such as not expanding highways, increasing the gas tax (but not using it to build more highways), or charging more for parking.
Caltrans' own traffic figures prove that even our most congested highways are actually far under capacity (about 66% of the 24 hour x 1850 cars/hr daily maximum). This is because far fewer drive at night and on weekends. If we could shift, e.g. deliveries and other auto and truck uses to the nighttime, there would be no need to widen any roads.
I am asking the organizations I'm involved with to start anti-Prop. 111 letter-writing campaigns to the newspapers. There's where we could get a lot of bang for our buck. Let me know if I can help in any other way. If I can, I will speak on it or debate it anywhere in California.
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.