Sacramento streetcar clears first TOD vote

Written by Douglas John Bowen
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By a roughly 2-to-1 majority, Sacramento, Calif., property owners along a proposed streetcar route have approved plans to fund $30 million toward the cost of the 3.3-mile, $150 million project.

The streetcar, for which voters in neighboring West Sacramento approved a funding tax in 2008, still faces another vote within Sacramento in May. But supporters took heart from the vote, results of which were announced Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015.

The vote was weighted, with larger property owners in the Transit Oriented District (TOD) presumably paying more for any project given a corresponding voting influence. Smaller property owners reportedly were more likely to vote against the plan, though exact numbers were not released.

But the vote is seen as an indication for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) that local funding and support is solid. Under President Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget proposal, announced earlier this month, FTA would cover roughly 50% of the streetcar capital cost or $75 million, subject to matching funds.

Next up is a vote in May, when 3,800 registered voters who live within three blocks of the proposed line will vote yes or no on the project. Registered voters in the streetcar line area who don’t own property will not be asked to help finance the project.

“We’re really pleased,” project spokesman Kirk Trost, an attorney with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, told local media. “I think it is a great endorsement. When we’ve had the opportunity to sit down with people and make the business case about what the streetcar could mean to the region, they obviously are convinced that … it is worth the time.”

Supporters include the National Basketball Association Sacramento Kings, who with partners plan to build and arena, hotel, and other amenities to be served by the line.

The line would run from West Sacramento points across Tower Bridge into Sacramento, the state capital, serving numerous business and retail neighborhoods as well as interfacing with Sacramento Regional Transit District light rail transit service and Amtrak intercity trains.

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