Mission Viejo

The Not-So-Free Freeways - Part One
By Ed Sachs

Toll lanes might be in your future on both the I-405 and I-5 freeways. The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is proposing a plan that would add a toll lane, convert an existing carpool lane to a toll lane, and create a 3-person “free” lane in both directions on our freeways. This, in fact, would kick out any 2+ passengers from the HOV lane.

Why are many of our elected officials so interested in taxing residents with tolls on the 5 and 405? We have already been taxed to build these freeways. In an article in the OC Register entitled, “Toll-lanes plan a theft of Measure M dollars”, former Costa Mesa Mayor Eric Bever writes, “The real plan, as outlined in the article and a map graphic in the July-August issue of Westways magazine, is to eventually have these toll lanes running throughout Southern California, on every Orange County “freeway.” The questions is, who made this plan - and why?

Recently re-elected to the 17-member OTCA Board is Mission Viejo City Councilman Frank Ury, who is also running for Orange County Supervisor. Mr. Ury cites threats from Caltrans as his justification for supporting the toll scheme. Let’s examine the accuracy of this alleged threat from Caltrans:
A tactic used by pro-toll road Board members and OTCA staff to convince the public to support the “Alt-3” Toll Roads Alternative is to claim that Caltrans will build the toll lanes anyway, and that the toll monies collected will go to Sacramento, not to OC. But, there is no evidence anywhere in California where Caltrans has built toll lanes in opposition to local authorities. Caltrans does not wish to take control away from any local transportation authority. Further, a conversation I recently had with OC Supervisor Pat Bates confirmed that state law prohibits taking toll revenue out of the counties that have toll roads. In order to have that revenue sent to Sacramento, a new law would need to be passed and signed by the Governor.

In fact, a recent report by Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach states that when the Director of Caltrans, Malcolm Dougherty, was asked if Caltrans would force toll lanes on Orange County, his answer was “No”. In addition, he said Caltrans would work with OCTA to solve issues with “Degradation,” which is a term for a national edict that car pool lanes must be able to travel at 45 mph minimum. I will explain Degradation in more detail in Part 2 of this series.

You can listen to Councilman Ury’s OTCA report on the toll road situation from the November 4 Mission Viejo City Council meeting posted on the City’s website (see link below). Councilman Ury states that Caltrans would mandate that HOV lanes become toll lanes, and says there is nothing we can do about it. However, evidence suggests that it’s the OCTA, not Caltrans that is looking for a way to generate more tax revenue through toll lanes. The 405 freeway tolls are estimated to cost as much as $9.91 northbound and $6.61 southbound. That's an additional $320 a month for the average toll road user; on top of the gasoline taxes we already pay for our roads.

Orange County voters approved taxing themselves for freeway improvements through Measure M in 2004 and a follow up Measure “M2”. More than a billion dollars in additional taxes was raised with these measures. That is enough to pay for adding two new HOV lanes to the 405. In fact, our gasoline costs 51 cents more per gallon than the national average, thanks in large part to gasoline sales taxes. So including gasoline tax, we would be taxed thrice. We pay 39.5 cents per gallon in taxes whereas the national average is 21 cents.

Toll lanes are estimated to cost between $1.3 - $1.4 billon. Taxing us through two Measure M sales tax increases plus proposing that we pay tolls for using public freeway lanes amounts to double taxation.

The OCTA Board was scheduled to vote on the I-405 “project alternative” at its December 9 meeting. However, that vote has been postponed until around March 2014. I’m guessing it is in response to the public push-back on this terrible idea. OC Supervisor Pat Bates states that they (the OCTA) need time “to build trust”. Trust for what? That the OCTA will tax us wisely?

The OCTA Board is comprised of elected officials throughout OC. To view the contact info for these officials and the meeting address, visit the website at: http://www.octa.net/About/Board-of-Directors/Agendas/

Our elected officials need be held accountable when they make campaign promises rooted in fiscal conservatism. You can email Councilman Frank Ury at: fury@cityofmissionviejo.org to let him know what you think about being double or triple taxed when using toll lanes.

Next month I will offer details of “LEVs” and “MAP 21” and why I believe OTCA feels pressured to come up with a solution.

To listen to Councilman Ury’s comments at the November 4, 2013 council meeting visit:
http://missionviejo.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=14. Scroll to 4:35:00 below the video screen.

Ed Sachs and his family have lived in Mission Viejo since 1991. Ed spent 30 years in the consumer electronics industry where he was inducted in the Hall of Fame. He retired as President Emeritus at Pioneer Electronics in 2009. Since retirement, Ed has opened his own leadership-consulting agency while becoming active in the community. In 2012, Ed ran for Mission Viejo City Council. Ed and his wife Leagh, an award winning photographer, have two sons, David and Daniel.
Questions? Comments? The CCS wants to hear from you! Contact Mission Viejo Contributing Editor Steve Magdziak at: (949) 441-0499.



















The Not-So-Free Freeways - Part One



By Ed Sachs



Toll lanes might be in your future on both the I-405 and I-5 freeways. The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is proposing a plan that would add a toll lane, convert an existing carpool lane to a toll lane, and create a 3-person “free” lane in both directions on our freeways. This, in fact, would kick out any 2+ passengers from the HOV lane.



Why are many of our elected officials so interested in taxing residents with tolls on the 5 and 405? We have already been taxed to build these freeways. In an article in the OC Register entitled, “Toll-lanes plan a theft of Measure M dollars”, former Costa Mesa Mayor Eric Bever writes, “The real plan, as outlined in the article and a map graphic in the July-August issue of Westways magazine, is to eventually have these toll lanes running throughout Southern California, on every Orange County “freeway.” The questions is, who made this plan - and why?



Recently re-elected to the 17-member OTCA Board is Mission Viejo City Councilman Frank Ury, who is also running for Orange County Supervisor. Mr. Ury cites threats from Caltrans as his justification for supporting the toll scheme. Let’s examine the accuracy of this alleged threat from Caltrans:



A tactic used by pro-toll road Board members and OTCA staff to convince the public to support the “Alt-3” Toll Roads Alternative is to claim that Caltrans will build the toll lanes anyway, and that the toll monies collected will go to Sacramento, not to OC. But, there is no evidence anywhere in California where Caltrans has built toll lanes in opposition to local authorities. Caltrans does not wish to take control away from any local transportation authority. Further, a conversation I recently had with OC Supervisor Pat Bates confirmed that state law prohibits taking toll revenue out of the counties that have toll roads. In order to have that revenue sent to Sacramento, a new law would need to be passed and signed by the Governor.



In fact, a recent report by Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach states that when the Director of Caltrans, Malcolm Dougherty, was asked if Caltrans would force toll lanes on Orange County, his answer was “No”. In addition, he said Caltrans would work with OCTA to solve issues with “Degradation,” which is a term for a national edict that car pool lanes must be able to travel at 45 mph minimum. I will explain Degradation in more detail in Part 2 of this series.



You can listen to Councilman Ury’s OTCA report on the toll road situation from the November 4 Mission Viejo City Council meeting posted on the City’s website (see link below). Councilman Ury states that Caltrans would mandate that HOV lanes become toll lanes, and says there is nothing we can do about it. However, evidence suggests that it’s the OCTA, not Caltrans that is looking for a way to generate more tax revenue through toll lanes. The 405 freeway tolls are estimated to cost as much as $9.91 northbound and $6.61 southbound. That's an additional $320 a month for the average toll road user; on top of the gasoline taxes we already pay for our roads.



Orange County voters approved taxing themselves for freeway improvements through Measure M in 2004 and a follow up Measure “M2”. More than a billion dollars in additional taxes was raised with these measures. That is enough to pay for adding two new HOV lanes to the 405. In fact, our gasoline costs 51 cents more per gallon than the national average, thanks in large part to gasoline sales taxes. So including gasoline tax, we would be taxed thrice. We pay 39.5 cents per gallon in taxes whereas the national average is 21 cents.



Toll lanes are estimated to cost between $1.3 - $1.4 billon. Taxing us through two Measure M sales tax increases plus proposing that we pay tolls for using public freeway lanes amounts to double taxation.



The OCTA Board was scheduled to vote on the I-405 “project alternative” at its December 9 meeting. However, that vote has been postponed until around March 2014. I’m guessing it is in response to the public push-back on this terrible idea. OC Supervisor Pat Bates states that they (the OCTA) need time “to build trust”. Trust for what? That the OCTA will tax us wisely?



The OCTA Board is comprised of elected officials throughout OC. To view the contact info for these officials and the meeting address, visit the website at: http://www.octa.net/About/Board-of-Directors/Agendas/



Our elected officials need be held accountable when they make campaign promises rooted in fiscal conservatism. You can email Councilman Frank Ury at: fury@cityofmissionviejo.org to let him know what you think about being double or triple taxed when using toll lanes.



Next month I will offer details of “LEVs” and “MAP 21” and why I believe OTCA feels pressured to come up with a solution.



To listen to Councilman Ury’s comments at the November 4, 2013 council meeting visit:

http://missionviejo.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=14. Scroll to 4:35:00 below the video screen.



Ed Sachs and his family have lived in Mission Viejo since 1991. Ed spent 30 years in the consumer electronics industry where he was inducted in the Hall of Fame. He retired as President Emeritus at Pioneer Electronics in 2009. Since retirement, Ed has opened his own leadership-consulting agency while becoming active in the community. In 2012, Ed ran for Mission Viejo City Council. Ed and his wife Leagh, an award winning photographer, have two sons, David and Daniel.



Questions? Comments? The CCS wants to hear from you! Contact Mission Viejo Contributing Editor Steve Magdziak at: (949) 441-0499.

























































































































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