The Los Angeles City Council threw its support Wednesday behind the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Nov. 8 ballot measure asking voters to hike the sales tax a half cent in order to pay for public transit projects.
“This is a huge opportunity for the city of Los Angeles and for all the other cities in the county of Los Angeles,” Councilman Mike Bonin said, prior to the City Council voting 13-0 to approve a resolution supporting Measure M.
Bonin said the sales tax measure would build on the success of Measure R, which jump-started the construction of the Gold Line Extension into East Los Angeles, the Crenshaw Line to LAX and the Expo Line.
Bonin said Measure M is “manna from heaven” for those who want more transportation options and low fares, especially for seniors, disabled and student riders — as well as elected officials and anyone ” who cares about our city budget and is desperate for more resources” for transportation and road improvement projects.
City officials anticipate that $4 billion will be returned to Los Angeles over 40 years under the tax measure. In 2018, the city is expected to receive $56 million in local return, according to Bonin.
Councilman Paul Krekorian said despite long-held stereotypes about Angelenos’ car-centrism, residents have in recent years developed a taste for rail and public transit due to the projects built under Measure R, even despite the current gaps in the transportation network.
“No one realistically believed that Angelenos would ever actually get out of their cars and get into transit, until we started building it,” Krekorian said.
The rail and other public transportation projects built under Measure R proved popular, he said, and Measure M will fill out the gaps in the rail lines and lead to a more “mature” transportation system, he said.
Metro CEO Phil Washington told the City Council that agency officials believe the measure is “a balanced transportation plan that includes all modes of transportation.”
“We believe this half-cent sales tax and also the current Measure R sales tax will lift all boats,” he said.
Measure M needs the support of two-thirds of voters to win approval. It would enact a half-cent sales tax hike to fund a package of transportation improvements that include new rail and bus lines, highway improvements and street repairs. The tax revenue would also help fund the operation and maintenance of the regional transportation system.
The measure would build on an existing half-cent tax put in place by voters through Measure R, by boosting that tax to a full cent, and leaving the levy in place with no sunset date. Metro officials estimate the tax would generate $120 billion over the first 40 years.
Some of the dozens of upgrades proposed under Measure M, also known as the Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan, include:
— the Airport Metro Connector at Los Angeles International Airport;
— extending tens of miles of light rail lines throughout the county;
— adding rapid transit bus lines, including along the Vermont Corridor and Lincoln Boulevard;
— widening the Golden State (5), Santa Ana (5) and San Diego (405) freeways and widening or adding HOV lanes to many others;
— street repairs;
— a downtown streetcar project; and
— new bike paths and lanes.
–City News Service