City Beat

A streetcar tax just passed in Sacramento

Watch streetcars roll along Sacramento streets in the 1940s

These downtown scenes show streetcar operations of the Sacramento City Lines in a circa 1946 educational documentary.
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These downtown scenes show streetcar operations of the Sacramento City Lines in a circa 1946 educational documentary.

Sacramento’s planned streetcar system is another step closer to reality.

Nearly 80 percent of major central city businesses have agreed to tax themselves a combined $50 million over the next 25 years to help cover the system’s operating costs. Of the 314 ballots counted as of Wednesday, 250 voters agreed to the tax, easily surpassing the required two-thirds threshold needed, according to results released by the city clerk’s office.

With that approval, city officials and streetcar advocates are expected to seek a full-funding grant agreement with the Federal Transit Administration later this summer or fall. Local and state agencies are putting up $100 million for the project and advocates are hoping for a $100 million match from the federal government.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg said the vote was “another important step forward in making Sacramento a true destination city.”

I was thrilled to hear the property owners have helped us take the next step,” Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, said in a written statement. “The streetcar project is critical to Sacramento and West Sacramento’s enhanced connectivity.

Officials want to break ground on the 4.2-mile system next year. It would connect West Sacramento, downtown and midtown.

“Our streetcar project is on track to bring new mobility options to downtown, midtown and West Sacramento,” Sacramento Councilman Steve Hansen wrote in an email. “I’m thankful to the area’s property owners for their financial commitment to transit. Onward!”

Businesses that voted on the tax included the Sacramento Kings, Macy’s and downtown hotels. The Kings likely will pay the most into the fund, with an estimated annual contribution of about $125,000. The team has voiced its support for the project.

Ryan Lillis: 916-321-1085, @Ryan_Lillis

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