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Opponents 'Call B.S.' on Rosy VIA Streetcar Forecast

 
Opponents 'Call B.S.' on Rosy VIA Streetcar Forecast
Posted Tuesday, July 1st 2014 @ 4am

  Anti streetcar groups say if that VIA Metro Transit economic impact study on the proposed quarter billion dollar downtown streetcar plan had a name, it would be Rosy Scenario.

  StreetcarVote.com, the group including firefighters, LULAC, Tea Partiers, and libertarian groups which are fighting the streetcar say the report indicating that the streetcar would lead to widespread economic development downtown, and have a $1.3 billion impact on the city's economy.

  "VIA can try to change the conversation all they want," said Greg Brockhouse, a spokesman for the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association and the StreetcarVote.com coalition.  "We simply want to vote on the matter, VIA wants to do as they please and paying for studies and legal opinions is not going to change the fact that people are signing petitions and they will be turned in.  A vote is coming and VIA cannot pay anyone to stop that."

  Essentially, the streetcar opponents say there is no other city in the country which has an expensive 'modern streetcar' downtown like the one that VIA wants to build that can point to numbers anywhere near the figures release in the VIA study.

  Portland, Oregon, the city most commonly citied, has built up its downtown through a successful development subsidy program similar to one that is currently in place in San Antonio, and opponents say 'development subsidies spurred growth, not the streetcar.'

  They point out that the $58 million downtown development subsidy is so successful it will be phased out.

  "Portland built light rail and a streetcar system and saw no economic development for a decade," the opponents say.  "Then they started subsidizing downtown growth."

  The opponents say VIA interviewed a grand total of 6 people for it's new economic development study, all six are 'downtown stakeholders who do not represent the citizens of San Antonio or their interests.'

  Opponents also pointed to similarly rosy reports over the past quarter century which indicated that both the Alamodome and the AT&T Center would lead to an 'economic renaissance' on the East Side, neither of which happened.

  The opponents of the streetcar are fighting the project for different reasons.  The SAPFFA is using the project as an example of wasteful city spending to counter claims by San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley that Police Officer and Firefighter health benefits need to be restricted because they are too expensive.

  LULAC is concerned that paying debt service to the streetcar will so absorb VIA's available finances that the bus line will have to restrict basic service to low income parts of town, in favor of providing streetcar service to 'rich whites' downtown.  And the libertarian groups like the Heartland Institute simply say the streetcar is too expensive and a waste of taxpayer money.

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