In July 2021, an anti-rail transit group named Greenway announced it would be seeking to place a measure on the June 2022 ballot to seek to prohibit the use of rail on the publicly-owned rail corridor that runs between Santa Cruz and Watsonville. Greenway immediately began gathering signatures in an effort to garner the approximately 12,000 signatures required for the measure to qualify for the June 2022 ballot. I’d like to update you now on the latest twist in this story and what you can do to support a future that includes rail transit in Santa Cruz County.
In response to Greenway’s attack on future rail service and our critical public rail infrastructure, we immediately mobilized to educate the community about the adverse effects of their proposed ballot measure. As a group of community volunteers, we analyzed the proposed measure, educated ourselves on the details that include amending the County General Plan to eliminate the possibility of future rail service, and we developed materials intended to help educate the public.
Since July, many community members have come to us to share that they have been lied to and bullied by Greenway signature gatherers. The complaints have centered on a lack of disclosure about the truth of their measure’s intent to eliminate the possibility of rail transit for our community.
Recently, as excitement grew for the Coast Futura rail demonstration, Greenway sunk even lower by filing a complaint against Friends of the Rail & Trail with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). The complaint focuses on the idea that we raised and spent slightly more money than is allowable before establishing a formal, registered political campaign. Greenway’s move with the FPPC is a common political tactic. Greenway seeks to discredit our organization and our cause, while reducing our resources and capacity because we must respond to the complaint.
When we became aware of the complaint, we immediately retained legal counsel and took action to ensure full compliance with the byzantine and important rules that guide ballot measures. As a volunteer-run organization, with no paid professional staff, we have been very successful over time in developing materials to educate our community on issues related to the Rail Trail project. In the face of Greenway’s deep-pocket finances and aggressive campaign to prevent rail transit, we will redouble our efforts to ensure our community understands the importance of rail transit as an essential way to address climate change and bring greater equity to transportation for hardworking commuters.
Want to help us further this cause? Visit https://coastconnect.org/take-action/ to help bring sustainable and equitable transportation to Santa Cruz County.
Board Chair, Friends of the Rail & Trail
Paid for by No Way Greenway Sponsored by Friends of the Rail and Trail (FORT)