Petitioners Have Enough Signatures, But Will Streetcar Be On November Ballot?

Jul 31, 2014

The recommended route for VIA streetcar.
Credit VIA Metropolitan Transit

Despite the derailment of San Antonio’s streetcar, the petition that called for a vote on the issue may still put a charter change on the November ballot.

TPR obtained the results of the petition drive, which is seeking a charter amendment change so that voters could have a say on the streetcar project. The city's election code says 20,000 signatures are needed.

The clerk's office found that more than 12,000 are valid and another 8,800 are also valid if the circulator affidavit isn't required. The circulator affidavit is to verify that those signing are real people.

This week Vacek sought the opinion of Texas state Director of Elections Keith Ingram in the secretary of state's office, who said the code does not require a circulator.

But that's the state's view. Cities can have petition regulations that are more  strict than state requirements, so Vacek is also seeking an opinion of the city attorney Robbie Greenblum.

Streetcar opponents are fretting that this is a backroom effort to suppress what they see as a valid petition. If the city accepts the petition pages without the circulator signature then there would be enough to put the issue on the ballot.

But even meeting that requirement doesn't automatically kill a streetcar possibility in San Antonio.

The petition calls for a charter change that would require a vote whenever any rail project uses city streets' right of way. That leaves the legal question of if the city of San Antonio has the authority to deny VIA the right to use city streets.

Vacek will release the petition drive information to the public next Wednesday.