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California Voters OK Transit, Hospitals, But Defeat Green Measures
By Joe Florkowski and Robert Carlsen

California voters, who felt the effects of gas prices of more than $4 a gallon this summer, had transit on their minds on Election Day.

State voters approved Proposition 1A ­ a $10-billion proposition that would spark the start of construction of a proposed high-speed rail line that would run from Northern California to Southern California. The measure was supported by Associated General Contractors of California and was estimated to bring a tremendous amount of design and construction work to firms across the state.

California voters also passed Proposition 3, a $1-billion bond measure to fund construction and expansion for children's hospitals across the state. This measure was also supported by AGC of California.

Two "green" measures, however, were soundly defeated in California.

Proposition 7 would have required public and private utilities to obtain at least 20% of their electricity from renewable resources by 2010 and 50% by 2025. Proposition 10 would have the state borrow $5 billion, with most of those funds to be distributed as rebates to purchasers of alternative-fuel vehicles.

But the measures proved unpopular across the state. Voters voted against Proposition 7 in every county but one. Proposition 10 was rejected by voters every county in the state.

Proposition 7 was opposed not only by large electric utilities, such as Edison and PG&E, but also by environmental groups, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Improved rapid transit was also on the minds of California voters. Voters in Marin and Sonoma counties in Northern California approved a quarter-cent sales tax to pay for a new 70-mile commuter rail service from Cloverdale to the Larkspur bay ferry terminal. That ballot question, Measure Q, needed a combined two-thirds majority in both counties to pass; in Sonoma, 73.5% of voters approved it, and 63% of Marin voters approved it. The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District will convert an unused set of tracks for the service, and expects to carry up to 10,000 passengers daily.

In another Bay Area transit measure, voters in Santa Clara County narrowly approved a one-eighth-cent sales tax Measure B proposal that would start the ball rolling for a Bay Area Rapid Transit extension to the South Bay.

Two city and county of San Francisco construction-related measures also passed easily. Measure A, which would provide $887 million for seismically upgrading and rebuilding the aging San Francisco General Hospital, won 84% of the vote, while Measure D, a charter amendment allowing the city to provide funds for the redevelopment of Pier 70, won 68% of the vote.

Los Angeles County voters approved Measure R, a half-cent sales tax increase countywide that will help fund such projects as the Subway to the Sea, which would build a subway from Los Angeles to Santa Monica, and the Gold Line Extension, a spur of the existing light rail system in Pasadena farther east along the foothills. The proposition could raise as much as $40 billion for these projects.

Los Angeles Unified School District voters also approved Measure Q ­ a $7-billion measure that seeks to improve and build schools and facilities within the district. The measure would allow the district to build or expand a number of schools across the district ­ the second largest in the U.S.




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