Streetcar opponents still hoping for public vote

District 9 Councilman Joe Krier asking VIA to call for referendum

District 9 City Councilman Joe Krier is hopeful San Antonio taxpayers will still get the chance to vote on VIA's modern streetcar project.

Shortly after being appointed to his council seat, Krier sent a letter to the San Antonio City Attorney Robert Greenblum to find out whether the City Council could reconsider its decision to allocate $32 million in funding for the project.

"The pleasant surprise to me was that this money has not been spent," Krier said. "It has not been obligated. There will have to be at least two votes of City Council before it is, and in my judgment, I will vote against it unless there is a public vote."

Krier believes the money should be used to pay for other items such as street and drainage repairs.

In the letter, Krier also asked if the city could place a referendum on the issue in the next election.

Greenblum told Krier a referendum was no longer an option, but Krier said the public still has a chance to weigh in on the estimated $280 million project.

"VIA can call an election anytime it wants to," Krier said. "I would hope VIA, in light of all this information, would reassess whether or not it's not best to go to the public for a vote."

VIA spokesman Charlie Gonzalez said the transportation provider has no intent to call for a vote.

"Why would you want to reconsider that which the council previously have adopted?" Gonzalez asked. "Does every city councilman get to basically put something on the table for reconsideration?"

Gonzalez said opponents of the project are focusing too much on the downtown streetcar portion.

"It is the first part of a system that will provide access to different areas of the city, reduce congestion, improve the environment and move the city of San Antonio into a modern multi-model transportation system. That's what's at stake here," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez believes Krier is voicing opposition to bolster his chances at retaining his City Council seat in the May special election.

"The streetcar issue is really a means to an end," Gonzalez said. "That end is an election that will occur in November."

Two of Krier's election opponents, Weston Martinez and Donald Oroian, are also opposed to the streetcar project.

Corey Clarke said he has supported the project since the beginning. Bert Cecconi was unavailable for comment.

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