Ever since the Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC, or just RTC) acquired the Santa Cruz Branch Line Rail Corridor, there’s been a lot of debate surrounding just what the future of the corridor would be. The RTC is championing an extravagant vision of an active rail line built alongside a pedestrian and bicycle path, which a number of “feeder” trails leading into and out of different areas along the 32 mile length of the corridor. This plan is known as the Monterey Bay Scenic Sanctuary Trail (MBSST), and it’s won accolades and plaudits from many corners.
As much as the MBSST plan has been praised, it has likewise been heavily criticized by a large contingent of the public who feels that passenger rail service is not economically viable for a relatively small population base. There’s been a spirited debate online for a number of years between those seeking some kind of active rail transportation in the corridor, and those who prefer a “trail only” or “greenway” – which would be essentially a linear park with a wide multi-modal trail that would accommodate walkers, runners, cyclists, skateboards, and other personal transportation devices which may not yet have been invented.
As the RTC continues to advocate and plan for a “rail and trail” dual use in the corridor, opponents of the rail are organizing an initiative to be put before Santa Cruz county voters on the November 2020 ballot. The initiative will be titled “A MEASURE REQUIRING AN ELECTION TO APPROVE ANY CONTINUED OR FUTURE WORK FOR THE RAIL + TRAIL PROJECT.” Notice of this initiative was recently published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, a formal requirement to begin the official process for getting the measure on the ballot.
If approved by voters, the initiative would:
- Require a majority of voters (at least 51%) to approve the continuation of any work related to a “Rail + Trail” Project in a regular election;
- Prohibit the RTC from taking any action that would authorize or permit the construction, studies, and/or continuation of a “Rail + Trail” project, or incurring any related debt or bonds, unless such election is held;
- Suspend any work currently in progress or associated with the “Rail and Trail” project until such election is held;
- Permit a “Trail Only” or “Greenway” project to proceed without any additional voter approval;
- Supersede and override any and all other requirements under which the RTC is governed; and
- Apply retroactively from the date the measure was found to have qualified for placement on the ballot.
A copy of the initiative can be downloaded using this link.
Those interested in helping gather signatures for the initiative are encouraged to contact Bill Smallman, who can be found hanging out on the Facebook group Rail AND/OR Trail Vote Group which he created for the purpose of facilitating this effort.
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