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Latest court ruling frees up Measure B project funds

Odds are, the $6.3 billion in funding for Santa Clara County Measure B transportation improvements will soon be available after the state Court of Appeal Nov. 7 refused to rehear the case.

The court ruled Oct. 18 in favor of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in response to a legal challenge filed by Saratoga resident Cheriel Jensen that froze funding for nearly a year after voters’ 2016 approval of the half-cent sales tax. Jensen and her attorney, Gary Wesley of Mountain View, claimed the initiative’s wording lacked specifics on funding use and should therefore be deemed invalid.

But the latest court decision virtually clears the way for Measure B funds to be spent on projects, including lane additions for a traffic-bottleneck portion of Foothill Expressway in Los Altos. The plaintiff’s only option left is to petition the state’s Supreme Court for a hearing.

Although Wesley is petitioning the court to hear the case, he acknowledges the odds of having it heard are slim. The court is expected to make that call within 60 days.

“The California Supreme Court grants review of only 1 in 100 civil cases in which such a petition is filed,” he said. “So, most likely, the VTA will soon be free to use the sales-tax proceeds from Measure B for whatever it likes.”

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