Voting LA County – Measure M

carousel-weekend-early-votingIt seems like every two years we have a new public transportation measure on the ballot. Some pass, and some fail. As points out, “Taxpayers have been contributing to Metro’s coffers since 1980 when they approved Measure A, Metro’s first half-cent forever sales tax. They again ponied up in 1990 with Measure C, Metro’s second half-cent forever sales tax. In 2008, they passed Measure R, Metro’s third half-cent sales tax, which was not forever but expires in 2037. As a result, we are currently paying a 1-1/2 cent sales tax to Metro, which brought them about $2.3 billion in [fiscal year] FY2014.”

This year, Metro has brought us Measure M, another forever half-cent sales tax increase which also makes Measure R’s half-cent sales tax increase forever. So, if Measure M passes, as residents of Los Angeles County, we will be paying two cents for every dollar spent towards our public transportation infrastructure. And it will not go away unless the voters say so.

How does this effect you in the pocketbook? According to KPCC 89.3, in “calculations released by Metro, each resident pays about $25 more in taxes each year for every half-cent increase. But economist Christopher Thornberg, the co-founder of Beacon Economics, an independent research and consulting firm, questioned the figure… Thornberg said that methodology doesn’t take into account those residents who own businesses themselves and how those businesses could pass on their sales taxes to consumers… He thinks the average cost to residents will be at least $35, and as high as $65 based off recent tax receipts and a survey of average consumer expenditures in L.A. County.”

So, you know how Measure M will effect your finances, and how the cumulative effects of the three prior sales tax increases impact your personal budget. But what does Measure M promise in return?

Revenue from Measure M, if approved, would generate $860 million per year. This money would be used to take on a laundry list of big capital works projects, and these projects would create 465,690 jobs, according to Metro. Some of the bigger projects in a 40-year plan include (taken from the YesonM site):

• Build a new LAX station that directly connects the airport and serves as a major transportation hub with new rail line extensions, a new Bus Rapid Transit line, and 13 municipal bus lines.

• Build a new, 20-mile light rail line between Artesia and Downtown L.A. It would connect with the Green, Blue, Red, Purple and Metrolink rail lines.

• Build a tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass to create a transit connection between the Orange Line Van Nuys Station to the Purple Line at Westwood, and then along the 405 to a new LAX station.

• Green Line: Extend this rail line along the 405 to Torrance and along the 105 to the Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs Metrolink station. It would also provide a connection to the new LAX station and would connect with the Crenshaw, Blue, and Metrolink rail lines.

• Purple Line: Extend this rail line to run along Wilshire Bl. between Downtown L.A. and Westwood in 25 minutes. It would connect with the Red, Blue, Expo, Crenshaw, Green and Metrolink Rail Lines.

• Crenshaw Line: Extend this rail line to run from LAX to Hollywood & Highland. It would connect with the Green, Expo, Purple and Red rail lines.

• Gold Line: The Measure/Plan would extend this rail line so that it runs from Claremont to Downtown L.A. along the 210 and 110; from Downtown L.A. to Whittier along Washington Bl.; and to South El Monte along the 60. It would connect with the Red, Purple, Blue, Expo and Metrolink rail lines.

• Orange Line: Create new grade separations at key intersections to avoid stops at signals, reducing travel times for riders and reducing congestion for drivers. Convert Orange Line between Warner Center and North Hollywood to rail.

• Build a new 14 station, 9.2 mile transit line from the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station to the Orange Line Van Nuys station

• Build a new, 12.8 mile Bus Rapid Transit Corridor along Vermont Ave. between Hollywood Bl. and 120th St.

• Build a new, 8.8 mile Bus Rapid Transit Corridor along Lincoln Bl. between the new LAX station and the Expo Line in Santa Monica.

• Build a new, 15 mile Bus Rapid Transit project from the North Hollywood Orange/Red Line Station to the Gold Line in Pasadena

• Build a new, 3.8 mile street car through Historic Downtown L.A., on Broadway from 1st to 11th streets.

Some less obvious, but important parts of Measure M spending also include:

• Local Street Improvements funding, totaling $22.5 billion, for street & pothole repairs, signals, etc.

• $2.4 billion in funding for bike & pedestrian connections to public transit (Including Safe Routes to School)

• $2.4 billion in funding for subsidized transit for students, seniors and the disabled.

• There will also be funding in place for earthquake retrofitting of bridges, incorporation of modern technologies, and expanding and enhancing bus lines by building dedicated lanes, sometimes above-grade.

There is no doubt that Measure M has important goals in its sight, but the big question for voters is how many tax increases are they willing to take in one year? Measure M requires a 2/3 majority in order to pass.

A YES vote on Measure M authorizes an additional 0.5 percent sales tax for transportation and the indefinite extension of an existing 0.5 percent sales tax also dedicated to transportation and originally set to expire in 2039.

A NO vote on Measure M rejects an additional 0.5 percent sales tax for transportation and the indefinite extension of an existing 0.5 percent sales tax also dedicated to transportation and originally set to expire in 2039.

Dan O’Brien

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