The San Antonio City Attorney's office today opened the door to a public vote on that controversial downtown streetcar, and indicated there are two ways that a possible vote could take place, 1200 WOAI news reports.
READ THE CITY ATTORNEY'S OPINION: View Document
"He does believe that if enough signatures are gathered for a charter amendment, and I have signed that petition, the city can and probably would call an election," said north side Councilman and streetcar opponent Joe Krier.
Krier says the other way an election on the streetcar would take place would be if City Council gets ahead of the public opposition to the $270 million streetcar plan and calls an election itself, and he says there is a way that can be done.
"The 32 million dollars that was voted in January of 2013 (the city's share of the streetcar budget) has not been spent and has not been obligated, and will not be spent and obligated until council has at least two more votes."
Krier says after receiving the City Attorney's opinion, his next step is clear.
"I intend to propose that we have an election any time this issue comes before council," he said.
Via spokeswoman Priscilla Ingle says the funding is in place to build the first phase of the streetcar, which doesn't require any new taxes.
A group of streetcar opponents ranging from Tea Party members who feel the proposal is a waste of money to LULAC chapters who see the streetcar stripping poor neighborhoods of essential bus service so VIA Metro Transit can build a streetcar to benefit wealthy tourists and downtown business owners, have mounted a drive to get 20,000 registered voter signatures by July 1st to force a charter election in November.
That charter change would require that a vote of the people be taken any time the any agency proposes to tear up any city owned street to build a 'rail transportation system.'
Krier says the smartest thing for VIA to do today is to put the streetcar system on hold.
"I would hope that this opinion from the City Attorney would cause VIA to reconsider moving forward on a $400 million project for which future funding is not assured," he said. "There is no guarantee that the votes will be there to fund the $32 million obligation that the city has made, and especially with this charter amendment passing which would preclude the city from having its streets torn up, if I were VIA I would not spend any more money on this project."