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Local Projects at Risk

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MYTH BUSTER: Prop. 53 Does Apply to LOCAL Projects

Proposition 53 would erode local control by mandating a statewide vote for some local infrastructure projects, empowering one region of the state to reject infrastructure priorities of communities in other regions of the state. Here is why:

Locally-controlled JPAs created to address local infrastructure priorities are covered under Prop 53.

  • While Section 1.6 (a) of the proposition excludes cities, counties and special districts, Prop 53 explicitly includes local “Joint Powers Authorities (JPAs) or similar bodies that are created by the State or in which the State is a member.”

Small projects, under $2 Billion threshold, but connected to larger projects are also covered.

  • Section 1.6 (b) requires projects that are “allegedly separate” also require a statewide vote, even for local projects. Allegedly separate is defined by the measure as projects that are “geographically proximate,” “physically joined or connected,” or “cannot accomplish [their] state purpose without the completion of another allegedly separate project.”


Examples of local projects that could require a statewide vote under Prop. 53:

Water Supply and Storage

    • Sites Reservoir – Colusa County
    • Temperance Flat Dam – Fresno, Kings, Madera, Tulare and Merced Counties
    • Shasta Dam – Shasta County
    • Los Vaqueros Reservoir – Contra Costa County

Bridge Repairs

  • Bay Area bridges – Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano counties: Managed and operated by the Bay Area Toll Authority which was created by the state.

  • Coronado Bridge – San Diego County: Managed and operated by San Diego Toll Authority which the state now manages.

Regional Rail Upgrade and Expansion

    • Transbay Terminal – San Francisco: Regional transit hub connecting eight Bay Area counties currently under construction, which is managed and financed by the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, a JPA created in part by CalTrans.
    • Capitol Corridor – Alameda, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Solano, Sacramento, Yolo & Placer Counties: Managed and operated by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority which runs commuter rail service spanning 148 miles across 7 Northern California counties. The JPA was created by the state.
    • LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency: San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles Orange, San Diego counties: A JPA created by the state and in which state officials are members. Manages 351 miles of rail service across 6 Southern California and Coastal counties with at least $6 billion in needed rail improvements over the next 20 years.

Airport Expansion

    • San Diego International Airport – San Diego County: Owned and operated by the San Diego Regional Airport Authority, a local entity similar to a JPA created by the state.

Road Construction

    • Toll Roads - Orange County: Four separate toll roads, managed by two JPAs created by the state via legislation passed in 1987.


    • University of California - $13.3 billion planned capital expenditures in recent Capital Plan, and four campuses each have projects planned that meet the measure’s $2B threshold on their own:
      • UC Davis
      • UC San Diego
      • UC Irvine
      • UC San Francisco
      • Additionally, all 10 UC campuses have planned improvements to local medical centers, student housing, classrooms and research facilities. These local projects could each require a statewide vote if considered “allegedly part of” the University of California’s larger capital improvement plan.
    • California State University - $9 billion in planned capital facilities needs statewide
      • Each of the 23 CSU campuses have plans to construct more classrooms, student health clinics, research labs and student housing. These local projects could each require a statewide vote if considered “allegedly part of” the larger CSU capital improvement plan.