The City and County of San Francisco and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority responded to requests from SamTrans to update the repayment efforts for SamTrans’ first Caltrain right-of-way investment, arguing that they have paid all or most of the requested repayment.
A July 26 letter stated that the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) paid SamTrans in full, while San Francisco paid in full except for $ 200,000 in its obligation. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the regional transportation authority for the Bay Area, reportedly paid $ 23.7 million, leaving a balance of $ 19.8 million unpaid.
Charles Stone, SamTrans ‘chief executive officer, said he was glad both organizations responded, but felt that the letter did not answer SamTrans’ original request in its June 22nd letter.
“I guess I’m really confused that the letter doesn’t really respond to what we asked for in our letter, what you did to make the repayment, as you agreed to over a decade ago. That was my first reaction, ”said Stone.
The VTA and San Francisco calculations are based on a forensic review of historical documents in connection with the Olson Remcho company’s Caltrain governance. The company submitted its report to the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, which owns and operates Caltrain, in July 2020 and April 2021. The report examined the 1991 real estate contract and the 2008 amendment to the 2008 real estate contract between the agencies. It found that SamTrans owed a total of $ 53.3 million under the 2008 agreement, with San Francisco $ 2 million and VTA $ 8 million in state fuel taxes.
The districts of San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara formed the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Authority and in 1991 bought the railroad access for Caltrain with state funds and money from SamTrans. San Francisco in the letter reiterated its commitment to honor the 2008 agreement and pay $ 200,000 while working with MTC to determine a source of money for the $ 19.8 owed SamTrans.
The letter’s signatories include San Francisco Mayor London Breed, San Francisco Chairman Shamann Walton, VTA executive director Carolyn Gonot, and Jeffrey Tumlin, director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
In its original June 22 letter, SamTrans requested VTA and San Francisco to provide a written response detailing the reimbursement details for its initial investment of $ 82 million. The SamTrans board of directors passed a resolution on June 22nd authorizing the incumbent General Manager Carter Mau to take all necessary measures to implement the reimbursement of funds. Stone said the SamTrans board of directors would respond to the July 26 letter after discussing the issue that could arise at the August 4 meeting or later, or both.
San Francisco and VTA said both remain fully committed to the Caltrain governance review, but SamTrans’ recent actions and statements question whether they share the same view. Stone questioned the comments in light of recent events and quoted board members at a Caltrain governance meeting on June 25th. Other members representing VTA and San Francisco were absent from the June 25 meeting. VTA sent a letter to Caltrain officials before requesting a postponement, citing the issue of right of way repayment and potential legal issues.
Stone was glad the letter confirmed that SamTrans could act as an administrative agency as long as it chose to.
“If other member agencies are planning to honor agreements they have made regarding SamTrans as a managing agency, why are we spending more than $ 2 million in taxpayers’ money considering other outcomes than SamTrans as a managing agency?” Stein said .
The next SamTrans board meeting is on August 4th.