(This is the third of four op/eds on Measure J that Streetsblog will publish this week. Monday, Gloria Ohland of Move L.A. made the case for Measure J, yesterday the BRU made their case for a no vote. – DN)
I am writing this quickly as I pack for a return trip to the land of aggressive public transportation planning and construction. By Sunday I will be back in Shanghai, a public transit mecca, where the sheer number of residents demands a world-class rail and bus network. You know what? So does LA. And in a little more than a week we have the chance to help make that a reality. Without the centralized planning that is the hallmark of infrastructure construction in China, it is up to the voters to authorize the building of the rail and bus projects LA needs to make life in Los Angeles more livable.
This November there are at least 2 softball questions on the ballot. The first of course is Obama for president. There are a million reasons to vote for Barack. But for my purposes I’ll keep the focus narrow. If you care about life in the city there has never been a clearer choice for the White House. Obama believes in the vitality of cities. Only Mitt knows what Mitt really believes and even then it’s subject to change.
The other thing you can do for yourself and your neighbors in November is to vote yes on Measure J.
Do you want a mass transit alternative to driving in perpetual gridlock on LA’s freeways and along its main arteries like Wilshire and Crenshaw? Do you like the idea that our city may one day have a transit system that efficiently and cost-effectively moves the millions of us who commute daily from home to work. Measure J does that within our lifetime.
When approved, Measure J will extend for 30 years, Measure R, the existing one-half cent sales tax that was approved in 2008 and is currently set to expire in 2039. The added funds will be used to secure bonds, which will allow Metro to accelerate construction of its needed transit projects.
According to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, the projects accelerated by Measure J will speed the start of construction on seven rail and rapid transit projects. Measure J also provides an extra thirty years of continued funding for local city transportation improvements, including countywide bus and rail operations, Metrolink, and Metro Rail capital improvements.
As has been written on Streetsblog and in less august publications, Measure J isn’t perfect. It glosses over the needs of walkers and biker and pays too much attention to freeways and other obsolete transportation solutions. Still, it makes more sense to take this half a loaf than to hold our breath waiting, perhaps forever, for the transformative revolution that brings us complete streets, endless greenways, perfectly conceived transit-oriented development, and 10,000 kilometers of protected bike ways.
Measure J and the expansion of public transit in Los Angeles is also critical to the region’s economic development. The passage of Measure J will help ensure that Angelenos have the cost-effective and green alternative to the freeways that they need today, and deserve, to get to their jobs and schools, and the region’s countless cultural attractions. Measure J will help LA become the world-class transit-oriented city it is on the road to becoming.
I voted yes on Measure J by absentee ballot. On Election Day you should too. Xie Xie.