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Group That Wants to Repeal SMART Funding Holding Town Hall This Weekend

Say project that was originally approved by voters has derailed, plagued by delays, reduced funding and a significantly scaled-back service that will make commuting to SF a challenge

The group that wants to repeal the quarter-cent sales tax used to fund Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit is having a town hall meeting this Sunday in Santa Rosa.

RepealSMART is made up of Marin and Sonoma county residents upset with cost overruns and management practices of the SMART light rail project and say the entire project needs to scrapped.

SMART’s original plan was to operate a light rail system between Cloverdale and Larkspur Landing. But over the past year, these plans have been scaled back because of funding shortfalls in the $150 million range. As the project stands now, the train would run from Santa Rosa to San Rafael, meaning commuters to San Francisco would have to transfer to a shuttle to get to the Larkspur ferry.

In addition, many stations planned along the route have been deferred until more funding can be secured, including the Corona Station in North Petaluma and the near the intersection of Atherton Avenue and North Redwood Boulevard.

Also at risk of partial elimination is a multiuse path along the entire rail route intended for pedestrians and cyclists.

The town hall meeting will be held this Sunday, November 13 at 6 pm at Ellington Hall, 3535 Industrial Drive, Suite B4 in Santa Rosa.

For more info, visit the group’s Facebook page or email info@repealsmart.org 

Bookworm November 12, 2011 at 06:12 AM
I still think this is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It's more productive to ask for better accountability.
Stinky November 12, 2011 at 05:52 PM
I'm with you Bookworm. More productive AND we all don't have to fund ANOTHER initiative.
Clay Mitchell November 13, 2011 at 10:31 PM
Stinky- You shouldn't have to pay for another initiative- we're footing the bill to get it qualified, and requested that they add it to a scheduled election, so the cost to taxpayers would be minimized. If SMART spends taxpayer dollars on political purposes, they are improperly using those funds. Bookworm- we asked for accountability and answers. Do you know what we got? Nothing. The SMART Board dismissed us... why? Oh yeah- cause they have no accountability. They are appointed to their positions, not elected. They appoint their own Citizen's Oversight Committee. Really? I went to various community groups and leaders, asking them to discuss possible solutions with me. And almost to a person, they ignored us. The newspaper editorial board criticizes our efforts- but they never asked for the accountability that we should have had. Who are they to criticize when they abdicated their responsibility to keep an eye on this outfit? So tell me- how exactly do you propose to "ask for better accountability"? We've been criticized for not providing an "alternative"- please do the same. I'd love to have that discussion with you. Thanks- Clay
Bookworm November 14, 2011 at 04:45 AM
Were the people who want to repeal SMART for it or against it the first time around?
Edwin Drake November 14, 2011 at 05:41 AM
Myself, originally for and now against. Also sorry I voted for high-speed rail.
Lloyd November 14, 2011 at 04:54 PM
Edw... High speed rail is a gr8 project for California. Rail provides a viable alternative to taking to the roads and burning fossil fuels. Most successful HSR is powered by electric. This project is none if these things. A while back I was told by a friend that when San Rafael built the Anderson Extension project and cut the rail right of way there would never be a train to Larkspur. I believed him and concluded that "smart" promises were full of s--t oops I meant non-realities. I have watched development interests try to find a way to defeat open space in Marin & Sonoma for years. Right or wrong I concluded that was this project was aimed at accomplishing this and complying with Agenda 21. That said I truly wish we had an opportunity to have a rail option to SF. I grew up in NYC and the subway was a wonderful alternative to driving. I was fortunate enough to just travel to Italy where trains and buses provide the majority of people the option of staying out of cars. We live in a society that is car driven. Until a real alternative is made available I don't see anyone giving up their cars anytime soon. "smart" isn't an alternative. When you limit the ability of those that might use the train by restricting access limiting & isolating stations and not providing a local arterial bus system to get people to those stations we are deluding ourselves in thinking this project is viable.
Clay Mitchell November 15, 2011 at 04:40 AM
Bookworm- John Parnell and I are the co-chairs of the effort, and we both voted for Measure Q. Of our core group, it is about a 50-50 split between those who voted for it and those who voted against it. Beyond the core group, we are mostly a loose affiliation of volunteers, so we have no real way to know what the overall makeup of our group is. For both John and I, we started asking questions as the project started to change in a big way- late in 2010. We formed this group to provide a mechanism to get answers, since our individual concerns and questions were not being acknowledged. Our goal from the beginning has been to ask for accountability and better execution of the plan- unfortunately, nobody would take us seriously until we took some serious action. I wish that we had other options available, and to a great extent, the ball is in SMART's court. At any point, they could approach us to discuss solutions, as we've approached them. But they have decided to take an adversarial, stand-offish position, which is unfortunate.
Bookworm November 15, 2011 at 06:05 AM
I am so sorry to hear that it sounds like failure is being built in to the SMART rail system. I too grew up in New York, and used public transportation all the time - subway and bus, and many use the Long Island Railroad too. I was hoping that, in spite of many flaws, that the best thing would be to get the project started, and improve upon it as time went on. If SMART is repealed, what then? Are we sentenced to a life of oil dependence for the forseeable future?
Edwin Drake November 15, 2011 at 06:55 AM
I wish that so-called "environmentalists" would make up their minds and decide whether they're against individual automobile transport or the internal combustion engine. As for HSR - need transport? - build maglev monorail down I-5 median. That's my fantasy. What's being offered is camel, too many stops in unneeded towns, just to get political buy-in. HSR is another pig-in-the-poke. One question: What's head time on HSR, 30 second stops at each station?

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