Home » Bay Area Bridge Toll Increases Approved After End Of Long Litigation

Bay Area Bridge Toll Increases Approved After End Of Long Litigation


A pot of $545 million destined for new projects in the Bay Area may soon be released from escrow after litigation over a 2018 ballot measure on bridge toll increases finally comes to an end.

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday let stand a decision from the state Court of Appeal in a case brought by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association challenging toll increases on seven state-operated Bay Area bridges.

Howard Jarvis was an anti-tax gadfly best known for his role in the 1978 passage of Proposition 13, which amended the California Constitution to limit tax on California real estate. HJTA advocates and frequently litigates against taxes.

HJTA challenged the $1 bridge toll increases set for 2019, 2022 and 2025 as part of Regional Measure 3, which was approved by the region’s voters in 2018. HJTA argued that the tolls were actually taxes and even though they were approved in the state Legislature and by citizen ballots, the percentages approving were less than the two-thirds required for special taxes.


The case was filed in San Francisco Superior Court in 2018. That court ruled against HJTA on April 23, 2019, and the Court of Appeal affirmed the decision on June 29, 2020.

HJTA then successfully petitioned the California Supreme Court to take the case up for review, but the high court put the case on hold pending the disposition of a case with similar issues involving charges for trash and recycling pickup in Oakland. Once that case was resolved, the Supreme Court dismissed HJTA’s petition for review and returned the case to the Court of Appeal.

Under the California Rules of Court, when the Supreme Court dismisses a petition for review, the opinion of the Court of Appeal remains in effect.

The 2019 and 2022 toll increases were not suspended during the case and the roughly $545 million collected was placed into escrow pending the conclusion of the litigation, according to a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.


A third toll increase is scheduled for 2025 and it is anticipated that the tolls will ultimately provide $4.45 billion in capital funding for major transportation projects to relieve traffic congestion in the Bay Area, including $325 million for a Caltrain downtown San Francisco extension and $500 million for new BART cars.

Emily Cohen, a spokesperson for the Bay Area Council, a business advocacy organization, said the release of the funds will await further procedural steps, but that the parties are “committed to unlocking the funds quickly to flow to these projects.”
Cohen said the Council “led the campaign to pass the measure in June 2018.”

Tom Butt, until two weeks ago the mayor of the city of Richmond, was elated by the decision, which he said “includes hundreds of millions of dollars to relieve traffic congestion at the Richmond San Rafael bridge, including $75 million specially for the east end. It also includes $300 million for enhancing ferry service, including the Richmond ferry.”

In an interview with Bay City News, Butt said that he never doubted the ultimate outcome but was disappointed that it took so long.

“It was kind of a no brainer, but you know these things have to work their way through the system,” he said.


To Do List January 26, 2023 - 7:19 PM - 7:19 PM

Based on the discussion above, it looks like the Jarvis argument that the tolls are now taxes is correct. The money is not going to the bridges but just into general funds to finance other projects like ferry services. My relatives frequently drive over the Antioch bridge to visit, so why are they helping to finance a ferry service? They are using the bridge only. It is a tax.

Prop 13 proponent January 26, 2023 - 7:25 PM - 7:25 PM

“gadfly”? How about HERO! The man stood up to big government and successfully pushed Prop 13 down their tax and spend throats. Prop 13 has saved seniors and all property owners collectively BILLIONS in tax dollars. Without Howard Jarvis (and later the HJTA) Californians would be poorer, homelessness much worse, and legislators pockets fatter! Gadfly indeed! We all should call him a HERO!

Jeff (the other one) January 26, 2023 - 7:41 PM - 7:41 PM

Excellent comment. Whole heartedly agree.

Cautiously Informed January 26, 2023 - 7:33 PM - 7:33 PM

The California government promised that each bride would no longer have tolls when it was paid for, by tolls. Surprise surprise! That has never happened! It’s just another of countless examples of the soulless California democrat government and how they lie to us.

Original G January 26, 2023 - 8:16 PM - 8:16 PM

Proves two things
They are liars and CA voters are gullible.

A dude January 27, 2023 - 4:28 AM - 4:28 AM

You can’t pay something off, when you constantly borrow against it…

Martinez Guy January 26, 2023 - 8:28 PM - 8:28 PM

Makes one wonder how different California might have been if we didn’t have a Democratic super majority for so many years. They’re in total charge with very little competition to help the middle class taxpayers. All you seem to get with these thieves are empty promises and lies.

The Ocean January 27, 2023 - 7:53 AM - 7:53 AM

We would probably look like Mississippi who has had a republican majority forever. By just about all metrics that you would measure quality of life in a state Mississippi is at the bottom. Conservatism in action.

Sorry, not sorry January 27, 2023 - 8:27 AM - 8:27 AM

Mississippi is still a much nicer place, and a much better place to live than the cesspool that San Francisco has become.

Yoyohop January 27, 2023 - 9:17 AM - 9:17 AM

@ The Ocean. So you’re saying the Democrats are the answer and our current CA is what the solution looks like?

Or is the problem that the Democrats just haven’t taken their policies far enough and we need to move further to the Left?

Lou January 27, 2023 - 8:05 AM - 8:05 AM

Darn it, should have been a first responder or a vet.

Doh January 27, 2023 - 11:18 AM - 11:18 AM

Among the new projects are building more toll lanes which is really more taxes.

Angry American January 27, 2023 - 3:11 PM - 3:11 PM

Voting has consequences and it amazing that people blindly vote for things. Funny as the people I talk to would rather go outside and eat dirt than admit they may have made a bad choice. This is the problem… it is always a choice in pumping the brakes or doubling down on the stupidity.

SG January 28, 2023 - 12:59 PM - 12:59 PM

Letting millions of illegals in the has caused more ppl on the roads so it needs to start and stop there.

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