THIS YEAR IN LA WE WILL SEE:
• the opening of Expo to La Cienega and then Culver City, and the construction of Phase 2 to Santa Monica begins
• the Orange Line extension to the Chatsworth Metrolink station opens
• construction of the Gold Line to Azusa continues
• groundbreaking for the Crenshaw Line
• utility relocation for the downtown Regional Connector and the subway extension to Westwood
• President Obama’s new budget may include New Starts funding for the Regional Connector and the subway.
Move LA’s “Transportation Conversation 4” will be an especially exciting one — coming on the heels of legislation enabling an extension of Measure R. Joining us are LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Senator Loni Hancock and Assemblymembers Mike Feuer, Bonnie Lowenthal, Fiona Ma, Mike Eng and Julia Brownley, and as well as leadership from key government agencies and nonprofits.
The talk is about possible new revenue sources for transit, TOD and affordable housing, from ballot measures to tax increment financing to public-private partnerships and the use of zoning as a value capture strategy. Our goal is to make the most of the public investment in transit and new stations — powerful public assets that create value that can be leveraged for community benefits. Feb. 24, at Union Station, see www.movela.org for details and registration information.
AND IF YOU LIKE MEASURE R, YOU’LL LOVE MEASURE R-PLUS
Assemblyman Michael Feurer authored the legislation that got Measure R on the ballot in 2008, and last month he introduced legislation (AB 1446) that sets the stage for extending Measure R with a second ballot measure in the 2012 election. This would allow LA Metro to bond against a longer revenue stream and raise more money upfront, thereby allowing the Measure R transit expansion program to accelerate construction of 12 Measure R-funded projects even if Congress doesn’t provide the low-interest loans and long-term bonds that would otherwise be necessary for the Mayor’s 30-10 plan (to fund all 12 projects in 10 years instead of over the 30 years of the sales tax).
Feuer told Move LA that while a lot of groundwork will have to be done in order for this measure to earn the support of voters, he believes there are few issues more important to LA County residents than improving the transit system. His legislation did not specify the length of the extension, which would be determined later.
Local voters first approved a half-cent sales tax increase for transportation in 1980 with 54 percent of the vote, and in 1990 they approved another half-cent sales tax increase with 50.4 percent. But nearly 20 percent more voters approved the Measure R half-cent sales tax - more than 67.8 percent of the vote — suggesting an increased willingness, not a reluctance, to tax ourselves for transit. Sales tax measure extensions (for transportation) were also easily approved in the counties of San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange:
• In 2002, an extension of Measure A was passed with 69 percent of the vote in Riverside County;
• In 2004, San Bernardino County voters extended the Measure I sales tax with 80 percent of the vote.
• In 2006 Orange County voters approved a sale tax extension with 69.7 percent of the vote.
This suggests that voters in Southern California, except in Ventura County, have consistently voted to approve new or extend transportation sales taxes by substantial and increasing majorities. Moreover, extensions are generally easier to pass than new taxes, and Move LA believes that local voters may offer a more promising opportunity than a contentious state legislature or Congress.
Feuer generally agrees, though he says that he believes it will be very challenging to get the consensus necessary because of the recession, because there is such a significant amount of money at stake, and because the 2012 ballot will be crowded with other funding measures. But he said he is hopeful because the 30-year Measure R sales tax was very specific about the improvements that will be delivered, which helps convince voters that the tax will be effectual — and that the vote will definitely be a measure of confidence in the ability of LA leadership to deliver on the Measure R promise.
Feuer has also introduced legislation that would add urban rail transit projects to the types of projects that would benefit from CEQA streamlining under a measure passed last year that creates expedited judicial review procedures for environmentally friendly projects including LEED-certified infill development, clean renewable energy project and clean energy manufacturing projects — and the proposed Farmers Field football stadium near the LA Convention Center.