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April 12, 2016 — April Regular Elections
Local

City of Rancho Mirage
Measure 2 Advisory Question - Majority Approval Required

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Do you approve of the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) spending One Hundred Million Dollars ($100,000,000) or more to construct the CV Link, plus, according to the March 2015 Master Plan, an additional $1.6 million annually to operate and maintain the CV Link pathway, which CVAG proposes to extend through Rancho Mirage business and residential districts?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Steven B. Quintanilla, Rancho Mirage City Attorney

The City of Rancho Mirage is authorized pursuant to California Elections Code Section 9603 to hold an advisory election for the purpose of enabling qualified voters of the City of Rancho Mirage to voice their opinions on substantive issues pertaining to the proposed CV Link project. As such, the results of Measure 2 will provide an indication of general voter opinion regarding whether the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) should spend One Hundred Million Dollars ($100,000,000) or more to construct CV Link, plus an additional $1.6 million annually to maintain and operate CV Link, a portion of which CVAG proposes to construct through Rancho Mirage. 

CV Link is a paved pathway proposed by CVAG that will accommodate pedestrians, bicycles, Low-Speed Electric Vehicles (LSEVs) and Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) that can travel up to 25 miles per hour. Initially, CV Link will be approximately 50 miles long, extending from Highway 111 and the Chino Wash in North Palm Springs to Airport Boulevard in the City of Coachella and the unincorporated community of Thermal. This is known as Phase 1 of CV Link. The plan is to eventually extend the western terminus of CV Link to Desert Hot Springs and the eastern terminus to the Salton Sea. At full buildout of all phases, CV Link will be approximately 88 miles long. 

Phase 1 (approximately 50 miles) is anticipated to begin construction in 2017 and includes the majority of construction for the core route of CV Link between Palm Springs and Coachella. The "Proposed Initial Implementation Cost Estimate" set forth in the March 2015 CV Link Master Plan for Phase 1 is approximately $100,000,000, which includes: $55,239,000 for 35.2 miles of "Pathway"; $9,782,900 for 2.0 miles of undercrossing and ramps; $9,038,500 for 0.3 miles which includes 51 bridge crossings of channels and roadways; $8,257,600 for 7.4 miles of street segments to be upgraded; $1,255,100 for 0.5 miles of crossings of roadways at-grade; and $15,733,500 for miscellaneous items such as, but not limited to, landscaping, planting, access points and support elements. 

The March 2015 CV Link Master Plan estimates the annual cost of maintenance for the first phase of CV Link to be $864,900, or $18,000 per mile for the initial (approximately) 50 miles of CV Link. The March 2015 CV Link Master Plan also estimates the annual cost of operation for the first phase of CV Link to be $752,000, or $15,600 per mile for the initial (approximately) 50 miles of CV Link. The total annual maintenance and operations cost for the first full year of operations of CV Link is estimated to be $1,616,900.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Construction of the CV Link is not being paid for by the City of Rancho Mirage. There is no proposal that would raise taxes on local residents for any aspect of CV Link. Nor would the project divert funds from existing priorities.

Approximately $75 million of the $100 million project cost is already in place and much of it comes from outside of the Coachella Valley. These include grant funds that recognize the positive impact of CV Link on safety, air quality, public health and transportation. Similar pathways have been shown to increase tourist visitation and economic activity. CV Link will be a premier tourism attraction, with the obvious potential to increase tourism by cyclists and overnight visitors as well as a boost to our economy and our struggling shopping centers.

Biking, walking or riding a golf cart on Highway 111 is dangerous. Sadly, more than 900 cyclists and pedestrians were killed or injured valley-wide between 2007 and 2013. Residents who enjoy biking or own golf carts rightly feel unsafe using them on our major roadways.

CV Link will have a 14-foot wide concrete path for bikes and electric vehicles and a soft 6-foot wide path for pedestrians. Bridges and underpasses enable less dangerous traffic interaction and shade stations and its unique design add to its appeal.

Rancho Mirage will be a vital part of a world-class, 50-mile pathway that creates a SAFE route to access jobs, schools and businesses. Providing a safe alternative to the polluting car will encourage more local people to enjoy a healthy and safe trip.

For more information, visit www.FriendsofCVLink.org.

CV Link will provide a much needed boost to our local economy. VOTE YES and make sure we don't end up as the MISSING LINK.

— City of Rancho Mirage

Arguments AGAINST

The City Council seeks your views concerning the CV Link. Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG), the lead agency and creator of the CV Link project, must also understand where the public stands.

The question of over-all "costs" is quite murky. Measure 2 identifies construction costs of $100 million "or more." The phrase "or more" is significant. In a grant contract document signed October 1, 2013, by the CVAG Executive Director, it states: "The total cost of this project is estimated at $70 million." Later, the projection increased to $80 million; then up to $90 million. Now it is routinely projected to cost $100,000,000. What the final cost will be is anyone's guess.

Measure 2 also references $1.6 million of Operations and Maintenance (O&M) expenses in the first full year of operation. This figure, calculated by CVAG's retained experts, is reported in the March 2015 CV Link Master Plan and was later "recommended" for approval by the Executive Director in an April 2015 report he authored. (Once Rancho Mirage began referencing these future O&M figures, CVAG's leadership got nervous and began claiming to make reductions in projected costs. Those "reductions" are both cosmetic and superficial. Actually, the $1.6 million is grossly inadequate because it includes no costs for police, security, medics or insurance, etc.)

CVAG readily saw that averaging approximately $178,000 in O&M costs over each of the eight cities and the County was beyond the capability of some. In response, on April 6, 2015, the Executive Director introduced and recommended a progressive bed tax formula that placed 90% of the entire O&M expense on five cities, including Rancho Mirage. Rancho Mirage's share was to be between $110,300 and $251,800 as of the 9th year, increasing annually.

Should Rancho Mirage assume the long-term economic obligations this project imposes on the cities?

We recommend a "No" vote on Measure 2.

— City of Rancho Mirage

Replies to Arguments FOR

The following individuals signed the official rebuttal in favor for Measure 2:

  • Gary Lueders, Vice President of Friends of CV Link 
  • Larry Parish, Retired CEO in Riverside County 
  • Robert Brockman, Former Rancho Mirage Community Development Director 
  • David Fierstone, Desert Bicycle Club Member 
  • Roger Snoble, Retired CEO of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The City's argument states that "the City Council seeks your views." But the Council did not ask for our opinions before they held a closed-door meeting to decide to oppose CV Link. They didn't poll voters before they decided to oppose any feasible routes. They certainly didn't ask us what we thought about diverting city resources away from other projects so they could challenge CV Link. 

Groups like the Greater Palm Springs Convention &Visitors Bureau have urged our Council to support CV Link, saying "an attractive, automobile-free pathway" would create jobs, boost tourism and "provide an important boost to the local economy." 

The California Strategic Growth Council, Riverside County Park and Open Space District, Desert Healthcare District, South Coast Air Quality Management District, California Active Transportation Program and Caltrans have committed more than $75 million to pay for the construction of CV Link. These grants recognize the positive impact CV Link will have on safety, air quality, public health and transportation

There are now more than 2 dozen options to cover future 0/M costs. Most do not include the city paying anything. 

If we don't use this outside grant money on CV Link, we will lose out on an incredible opportunity to provide a safe route for those who walk, bike, jog or ride a NEV. 

VOTE YES on Measure 2. 

— City of Rancho Mirage

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

The following individuals signed the official rebuttal argument against Measure 2:

  • Dana Hobart, Mayor of Rancho Mirage 
  • Ted Weill, Mayor Pro-tem of Rancho Mirage 
  • Richard W. Kite, City Council Member 
  • Iris M. Smotrich, City Council Member
  • Charles Townsend Vinci, City Council Member

Deceptive arguments by Friends of CV Link are an admission valid arguments don't exist. 

Example: The claim spending $100 Million "would not divert funds from existing priorities." 

Fact: 82% of the $75,000,000 accumulated thus far, including $20,000,000 in Measure A funds, is designated for use in the Coachella Valley. If these funds are not used on CV Link, they would stay in the Coachella Valley and would be used to remedy genuine valley priorities. Furthermore, CV Link has no known source for the remaining $25,000,000 needed for construction, and has raised nothing in over a year. 

Example: Golf cart owners feel unsafe driving "on our major roadways." (Para. 3) 

Fact: Neither golf carts nor Neighborhood Electric Vehicles are legal on California roads with speed limits above 35MPH. 

Example: CV Link "creates a safe route to access jobs, schools and businesses." (Para. 5) 

Fact: Who goes shopping on a bicycle? How many would ride a bike home after a day's work (weather permitting)? CVAG's proposed Rancho Mirage route is miles from Rancho Mirage High School. 

Example: Most deceptive is the claim CV Link won't raise our residents' taxes. (Para. 1) 

Fact: CVAG carefully sidesteps discussing CVAG's projected $1,616,900 in annual Operations and Maintenance expenses eight cities and the county will collectively pay - each year - over the next 75 years. Those expenses reduce our General Fund exactly as do police and fire expenses. Executive Director Tom Kirk's "recommendedO&M plan has Rancho Mirage paying between $111,322 and $251,871 by the gth year, and more every year thereafter. Those expenditures come directly from Rancho Mirage's annual tax revenues

 

City Council Recommendation: Vote NO. 

— City of Rancho Mirage

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