California Infrastructure Bonds 2006

Urban Habitat Opposes Proposition 1B and Supports Prop 1C

Summary

Urban Habitat’s analysis finds that Proposition 1B (transportation) will put California on a path to more sprawl, increased pollution, and less opportunities for our state’s low-income communities of color while Proposition 1C (housing) provides our state with smart opportunities for economic prosperity and growth, promotes better communities and strengthens equity for all citizens.  View Full Report (PDF, 137k)

 Proposition 1B Proposition 1C Position Paper Environmental Social Equity

With the erosion of the state's tax base, debt financing has become the only viable means for sustainable development. The right investments can enhance equal opportunities for California’s low-income communities and broaden economic prosperity for all residents. However, the wrong investments will exacerbate current patterns of economic disparity, environmental degradation, and class and racial segregation. While a General Obligation bond is an appropriate mechanism for the type of investments in Proposition 1C (housing), it is regressive and inequitable for the transportation investments in Proposition 1B.

 

Forgoing sprawl by refocusing investment on central cities through Smart Growth programs, infill, and Transportation Oriented Development strengthens communities in a cost-effective manner and promotes broad economic growth, which will provide potential tax bases to offset the initial investments. By limiting the use of General Obligation bonds to projects which benefit the community as a whole, rather than large corporations, we can better balance the budget while making wise investments in communities.

 

Since such a large portion of Proposition 1B’s funds go to roadway construction and improvement, a Revenue bond backed by user fees such as a fuel tax, vehicle license fees, weight user-fees, and container fees would be more equitable since those who benefit would pay.  It is inappropriate to ask every California resident to pay for these programs when potential revenue streams are available. With increased transportation corridors and port expansion, out-of-state shipping companies will benefit while poor residents in nearby communities will suffer the consequences of increased pollution. If the shipping companies benefit financially while residents become sick or die, expecting Californians to pay for Proposition 1B adds insult to injury.

 

Urban Habitat supports Proposition 1C (Housing bond) because of its potential to create stronger communities by promoting mixed-use Smart Growth Programs and Transportation Oriented Development. Individuals will benefit from affordable housing while newly revitalized neighborhoods will encourage new businesses and spur job growth. In California, the Fair Market Rent for a two bedroom unit is $1,104 a month which means the average worker must earn $23 an hour. Using this same formula, a family must make at least $166,000 a year to buy the average single family home but with an Area Median Income of only $64,422 most families are falling far behind. By investing wisely in affordable housing, California households of various income levels will all benefit. Linking mixed-income affordable housing with Transit Oriented Development can foster vibrant and sustainable communities and Proposition 1C promotes these goals.

 

Now is the time for our diverse communities to join in common cause to assure California’s future and invest in quality infrastructure to form a legacy of equitable and sustainable development patterns. By limiting the use of General Obligation bonds to projects which benefit the community as a whole, rather than large corporations, we can better balance the budget while making wise investments in communities.

 

Facilitating further sprawl and promoting pollution while taking on a $19.9 billion deficit plus interest, as Proposition 1B does, hurts the economy, environment, and undermines social equity. Refocusing investment on central cities through Smart Growth programs, infill, and Transportation Oriented Development, as Proposition 1C does, strengthens communities in a cost-effective manner and promotes broad economic growth, which will provide potential tax bases to offset the initial investments.

 

Download PDF Version of Full Report (137k)

 

Read the Joint Press Release with other Environmental Justice Groups (PDF)