I Hate Taxes. But I Hate Traffic More.

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January 28  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . I hate taxes. But I hate traffic more.

The gas tax, the primary source of state and federal transportation funds for the past century, may not long survive this century. More fuel-efficient cars, all-electric cars and fully autonomous cars are here or on the horizon, and they are gaining market share.

Because of this, the California Transportation Commission, which I Chair, recently appointed a Road Charge Task Force, consisting of 17 Californians with the task to recommend a pilot program to ultimately replace the gas tax. The Task Force will look for a more stable, long-term source of funds as an alternative to the gas tax.

In 1994, when the gas tax was increased to 18 cents a gallon, no one would have known that just two decades later the buying power on that tax would have been cut in half. That’s why Governor Brown wisely called for solutions to fill the $59 billion hole in our deteriorating system of roads, highways and bridges.

This task also will need all Californians to engage in this conversation, so we can collectively determine our path forward. It may sound like a rocky road – but it cannot be any rockier than the pothole-infested roads on which we currently drive.

Join us. Go to the CTC website and provide your questions and potential solutions to re-build our roads in a not-too-distant future when we will need to wean ourselves away from the gas tax.

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BART: Time to Make the Dream Reality

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January 14  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . It’s time to bring BART to Downtown San Jose.

In his inaugural speech, new San José Mayor Sam Liccardo struck a chord when he said that it is time to finish the BART extension to Downtown San Jose.

It was, in fact, the biggest applause line of the night, before a crowd of 2,300 people.

I bet you feel the same way. So how do we take this vital vision from rhetoric to reality?

First, the extension from Fremont to Berryessa is on-track. The 10-mile segment is a full year ahead of schedule and $70 million under budget. Service should begin in the summer of 2017.

Second, there is more than $1 billion set aside from voter-approved funding measures in 2000, and the on-going operations costs from a 2008 voter-approved measure.

Third, the firm commitment of a new Mayor, who co-led both the 2000 and 2008 campaigns, working with his predecessors Ron Gonzales and Chuck Reed.

Next, we need additional funding from local, state and federal sources to finish the job.

The final 6-mile extension – with all four stations (Alum Rock, Downtown, Diridon and Santa Clara) – produce ridership numbers for all 16-miles above 90,000 daily passenger trips.

That’s why, with Mayor Liccardo, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group heads to D.C. on March 17-19 to make the case to our federal partners. It’s why we often meet with state leaders, and why we will continue to champion local funds.

Big dreams don’t happen when we’re asleep. No, dreams come true when we are awake – and working to fulfill them – like BART all the way to Downtown San Jose.

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What have you done for me lately?

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January 7  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . “What have you done for me lately?”

The calendar has flipped from 2014 to 2015. At the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, we closed out 2014 with several solid successes:

  • BART funding from the California Transportation Commission, which I Chair, was completed, for a total of $760 million. The extension is under-budget and a year ahead of schedule.
  • Our Silicon Valley Turkey Trot, sponsored by Applied Materials, brought together 26,000 neighbors to celebrate Thanksgiving morning together – generating more than $900,000 to help needy local families.
  • The state water bond, Proposition 1, passed in November with the help of the Leadership Group, and incredible leadership by Governor Brown.

But life is about looking forward, not back.

This year, our goals are equally ambitious, and will be presented in a comprehensive way in the days ahead. But hear is a glimpse of what’s to come:

  • Housing and homelessness – the Leadership Group will step up its historic role.
  • Traffic relief – BART and Caltrain, along with other road improvements, are key.
  • Immigration, cyber, tax and patent reform – all federal priorities that must be tackled head-on.

Silicon Valley is an ambitious place, and we have many ambitious goals on our plate. Get on-board and join us. We have work to do.

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Traffic Woes: Solutions that Unite Us

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December 11  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought … While there’s some value in columns that divide us, it’s much more satisfying to work on solutions that can unite us.

San Jose Mercury News’ recent column from Michelle Quinn about “The Commute That Divides Us” is a great example. The region’s traffic woes and lack of transit options have led many proactive employers to personally fund shuttle buses for employees. Those shuttle buses daily remove thousands of cars off our roads and tens of thousands of Greenhouse Gases from our atmosphere. Instead of applauding those efforts, they’re often attacked.

Let’s all acknowledge the more holistic solution is for true transportation solutions in our region. That’s why the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has personally led four successful transportation funding measures in the past three decades, providing $10 billion in locally funded improvements that we all pay for and all benefit from. It’s also why we’ve indicated our willingness to help lead a new measure in 2016, to benefit all residents. Traffic relief, cleaner air, construction jobs, stronger economy. It adds up to transportation solutions that unite us. Now that’s worth writing about.

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A Cause for Claus

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December 3  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

CG_SL_SWHere’s food for thought . . . “A cause for Claus.” Santa Claus, that is.

Four years ago, Governor Brown and the CA Legislature dissolved redevelopment agencies. Right or wrong, the loss of that local funding source placed at peril amazing community initiatives like the popular “Christmas in the Park” celebration and “Downtown Ice” in San Jose, which runs from Thanksgiving past New Year every year. Christmas in the Park is cherished by residents throughout our region, with more than 500,000 people enjoying this wonderful tradition with their families.

Enter Mayor Chuck Reed and downtown city Councilman Sam Liccardo, now the Mayor-Elect. Seeking help from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, we secured support from business leaders to save Christmas in the Park and Downtown Ice. To establish a longer-term funding source, we launched the TiVo “Santa Run Silicon Valley” three years ago, a family-friendly 5K run or walk through downtown San Jose ending at Christmas in the Park.

Now picture this . . . 5,000 people, all dressed like Santa Claus, running and walking to fund Christmas in the Park. It’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face, as you cross a “snow machine” finish line greeted by milk and cookies; the reward of Santas everywhere as they come down the chimney.

Join us – let’s strengthen Christmas in the Park and Downtown Ice, build community and benefit the needy – all with three miles of festive smiles. Register today at SantaRunSV.com. For a small additional fee we’ll include a 5-piece Santa suit.

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On the Move at Burnett

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November 26  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Mentors Matter.

This morning, at Burnett Middle School in downtown San Jose, Mayor-Elect Sam Liccardo joined two world-class runners to meet with 300 students.

London 2012 Olympian Diego Estrada, who grew up in Salinas, CA, along with Texan running sensation Tia Martinez, are in town for our 10th Annual Applied Materials “Silicon Valley Turkey Trot,” but both of these poised professionals took time the day before their race to share their passion with students in the heart of San Jose.

Burnett Middle School students do not hail from wealthy homes. In fact, 8 of every 10 students qualify for the federal government’s free or reduced lunch program. The school has a rich history of serving poor students. I know, because my father – a first generation American born to a working class family of ten from Sicily – was also a student at Burnett Middle School in the 1940’s.

Yet what impressed me most about the morning was the enthusiasm of the kids. Eager and energized, they listened intently to Mayor-Elect Sam Liccardo and two world-class athletes, then interacted directly with questions of their own. But the best was saved for last, when Mayor-Elect Sam Liccardo, Diego Estrada and Tia Martinez led 300 students for a run around the school yard. These kids were “on the move with Mayor-Elect Sam,” and what a wonderful way to start their day.

Whether running professionally or running for office, these 300 kids directly experienced what can be achieved through hard-work, determination and passion. Yes, role models matter. But what mattered most was this simple lesson – “running” is great, but “serving” is better.

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No Excuse Not to Trot

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November 12  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

TT2013Here’s food for thought . . . There’s no excuse not to trot.

Turkey Trot, that is.

This Thanksgiving morning, November 27, we will host our 10th Annual Applied Materials “Silicon Valley Turkey Trot,” with an ambitious goal to give away $1 million to families in need throughout our Valley.

You and your family can help us achieve this audacious goal.

We often hear people say they are out-of-town on Thanksgiving, or that they are responsible for preparing the meal that morning. Fair enough. But this year there is no excuse not to participate. You can join us in spirit and still support our efforts to help needy families. When you register at svturkeytrot.com, we will save your race shirt and bib for a friend or family member to pick up or to claim after the race.

Inspired by U.S. Army Lieutenant Josh Splinter, who – for the past two years – has led a platoon in Afghanistan to participate in our Turkey Trot while thousands of miles away from home, we have “Remote Runners” from all around the world. We even have cyclists and swimmers who have signed up to support the Turkey Trot, while participating in their sports of choice on Thanksgiving Day.

So join us. Take a moment to register at svturkeytrot.com. Whether you run, bike, swim or simply sit on the couch with your remote control in hand, support those in need this year by signing up and joining us in spirit at our 10th Annual Turkey Trot. No excuses.

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“Market Share” for Caltrain Service

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October 30  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought: Market share for Caltrain

“Market Share” is a typical Silicon Valley term, but not always applied to our transportation choices.

Our new Caltrain Commuter Coalition – a partnership between the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Bay Area Council, SPUR and SAMCEDA, along with cutting-edge companies such as LinkedIn, Google and HP – believe that Caltrain Commuter Rail Service should gain “market share” in the Highway 101 corridor.

Ridership numbers on the 150-year-old system are already impressive: 61,000 weekday passenger trips. Yet the Leadership Group believes we can double those numbers – from 61,000 daily trips to more than 120,000 daily trips – in the next decade.

Then, Caltrain would gain true “market share” in the Highway 101 corridor. This would benefit commuters who currently are stuck in their cars and provide more room for thousands of commuters who would prefer riding in the comfort of Caltrain’s cars.

Our Caltrain Commuter Coalition will be advocating for the funds needed to fully electrify the line, lengthen the stations to accommodate more cars per train, heighten the platforms for quicker boarding, repair bridges to enhance safety and provide cost-effective grade separations for safer and quicker service.

More riders, cleaner air, stronger economy, better quality of life. Earning “market share” for Caltrain during the next decade is an idea whose time has come. Join us. Get on board.

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Yes on Props 1 and 2

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October 15  |  Environment, Tax Policy  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . California needs rain, and also needs to save for a rainy day.

On this November’s ballot, Californians will be voting on state Propositions 1 and 2. I personally support both, as does my organization, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

Here’s why:

Proposition 1 is a thoughtful, bi-partisan water bond, to invest in $7.5 billion worth of improvements for additional storage, conservation, efficiency and water safety. The drought reminds us all as to why Proposition 1 is so important to the health of our state. It is equally important to the economic health of our state, including here in Silicon Valley.

I’m even more impressed that Governor Brown insisted on the Water Bond’s specific improvements not be cherry picked to curry political favor. Instead, the specific projects will be competitively selected to best meet the needs of our state.

Proposition 2 is equally important. If the Prop 1 Water Bond is about our need for rain, then Prop 2 is about our need to save for a rainy day.

Proposition 2 is also a bi-partisan solution to address our state’s habit to spend too much in the good times, without setting money aside for the bad times. Here in Silicon Valley, we know and appreciate the boom and bust cycles of our economy better than most. That means saving for a rainy day, which is precisely what Prop 2 requires our state Legislature to do.

Yes votes for Prop 1 and Prop 2 – the choice is clear. We need to pass both to protect our future. Visit www.yesonprops1and2.com for more information.

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Measure Q: Vote Yes for Open Space for Future Generations

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October 3  |  Environment  |   Carl Guardino

David Packard’s commitment to the environment was one of his biggest priorities. As the founder of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and co-founder and former CEO of HP, he organized a hike for fellow CEOs on the Leadership Group’s board of directors when residents in Santa Clara County started pushing for the creation of the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority back in the 1980s. Packard was one of many people who helped lay the foundation for the Authority’s eventual creation.

Forward to today: The Authority has preserved more than 16,000 acres of open space, providing hiking trails, watershed protection and vital wildlife habitat within the Authority’s boundaries – Morgan Hill, San Jose, Campbell, Milpitas and Santa Clara, as well as unincorporated areas throughout the County.

We have an opportunity this election to expand the important work of the Open Space Authority by passing Measure Q, a modest parcel tax of $24 per year to help acquire and fund open space acquisition and access. The Leadership Group strongly supports this measure and encourages a yes vote.

In the spirit of David Packard’s call for citizen engagement, we also want to encourage you to do more than just vote yes on Measure Q. The Leadership Group, along with other organizations, are hosting phone banks to ensure Measure Q will gain the two-thirds vote required for passage. Visit the campaign website to find out more about volunteering.

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