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Santa Cruz County - 1st District
The Regional Transportation Commission owns the rail corridor. The RTC has unanimously affirmed its commitment to institute high capacity public transit service on the Santa Cruz Branch Line.
Do you support implementing electric passenger rail on the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line?
Why or why not? How would this position be expressed in your work, should you be elected?
I absolutely support passenger rail adjacent to a world class trail for our community. This is what our community worked for starting in 1990 when environmentally wise residents voted on Proposition 116 which led to the California Transportation Commission (CTC) giving us the funds to buy the rail line.
As county supervisor, I’ll work diligently with local, state, and federal representatives and local agencies, like Metro, to champion a robust integrated rail and bus system, providing an excellent alternative to driving. I would encourage us to seek more funding. I’ll work with organizations like Friends of the Rail and Trail, Sierra Club and Regeneracion to generate excitement for and an understanding of the benefits of using public transit, ensuring we make the system easy and affordable to use, providing incentives to local workers who use transit. If we can increase the percentage of local travel to walking/biking, bus, and rail, we can reduce our impact on climate change.
Construction has begun on the trail next to the tracks, but some segments have faced opposition and resulting delays.
Do you support building a trail next to the tracks from Davenport to Watsonville?
How would this position be expressed in your work, should you be elected? What will you say to your constituents about this project?
I unequivocally support moving forward with building our fully ADA compliant world class Coastal Rail-Trail adjacent to the tracks providing safe access to a number of schools, parks, shopping, work and more without having to get into a car. As supervisor, I’d be committed to bringing our world class trail to fruition, voting to move quickly forward with subsequent steps required to meet state, CEQA, EIR, and grant requirements. I’d work with the commissioners and staff of the Regional Transportation Commission to ensure we’re applying for all funding sources in order to complete the trail all the way to Watsonville.
I’ll tell constituents that a trail adjacent to the rails provides equitable access and safe alternatives to driving in order to mitigate climate change. Electric rail will offset trees cut for the trail, and we’ll ensure more trees are planted to mitigate those lost. Equity means we prioritize connecting Watsonville to the North County as soon as possible.
Neighborhoods with safe streets, bike lanes, and sidewalks create room for us to move freely without our cars.
Do you support improved street infrastructure to protect pedestrians and cyclists?
How would you support or prioritize projects, policies and funding to improve safety and infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists?
Our surface street infrastructure does little to ensure our families can safely walk, bike, or roll around town. Crossing the street can literally cost you your life in our district. If our streets are safe for our most vulnerable community members, then they’ll be safe for everyone. A 2017 Community Traffic Safety Coalition report indicated our county has some of the worst rates in the state for deaths and serious injuries due to cars hitting people. The rate of pedestrians killed in car crashes has risen more rapidly than people biking!
If elected to the Board of Supervisors, I’d collaborate with state and county agencies and legislators, the CTC, RTC, Public Works, CalTrans, and others to ensure we prioritize the safety of our community in a way that is equitable. Neighborhoods that do not have funds to pay for traffic calming measures should not become the most dangerous places for the families living on those streets to travel to and from work, school, parks and shopping.
The June 2022 Greenway Measure D sought to “rail bank” and tear up the tracks for a trail only.
Did you oppose the June 2022 Ballot Measure D?
What do you think are the implications of the 73% defeat of measure D?
The implications of Measure-D indicate an impressive majority of our community does not want to see our valuable rail infrastructure ripped out, as Greenway supporters had hoped. It also means our community doesn't want our General Plan altered in a way that prevents us from considering passenger rail in the future. The voting history of Santa Cruz residents, and a professional survey from 2021, aligns with Msr D results indicating that 74% of our community support passenger rail.
During and after the Measure-D campaign, people grew very angry that the Greenway incumbent was not listening to the voices of our community majority, even voting against moving forward with the trail! Turning a deaf ear to the community, regarding this and other issues, has resulted in frustration and anger by a number of residents who have reached out and asked me to run. I support the community’s vision of a world-class trail and connecting to the State Rail Network.
The California Coastal Commission recognizes the value of both freight and passenger rail in the coastal zone for environmental and coastal access reasons. Freight rail capability is important infrastructure for disaster preparedness and recovery.
Do you support preserving freight rail capacity on the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line?
How would this position be expressed in your work, should you be elected?
Moving freight by rail is far safer and more energy efficient than by truck. There’s a short “Rail Transportation Statement” by the Sierra Club about the essential importance of prioritizing rail in addressing and preventing climate change with a link to a longer explanation.
As supervisor, I’d work to ensure our rail line remains freight capable, able to bear the weight of both passenger and freight vehicles. I’d work with our RTC Staff and legislators to seek funding from the federal and state sources in support of freight rail infrastructure that might contribute to building our rail line faster than seeking passenger rail grants alone. I’d work to inform our community as to the advantages and ensure the community that freight rail would be a positive asset for many reasons. According to Dpt. Transportation, there were 18 times more highway hazmat incidents in California than rail incidents over the past 10 years damages totaling nearly $38 million ($37,913,312).
This candidate did not respond to the survey
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