Open Thread: What Do We Think of the First Peek at Measure R2

Earlier this afternoon, Los Angeles Times transportation reporter Laura Nelson reported on many of the details of the sales tax ballot measure that will be presented to Metro Board committees next week. With the approval of the Metro Board of Directors, the measure would go on this fall’s ballot where it would need the support of two-thirds of L.A. County voters to take effect.

The measure would generate $120 billion over the next four decades to fund massive transit expansion and at least one very problematic highway project. The revenue stream would be created by two tweaks to the county sales tax: extending to 2050 the existing sales tax created by Measure R in 2008 and an additional half-cent sales tax, also extended until 2050. Those tweaks would increase the base sales tax in L.A. County to 9.5 cents, one of the highest in the country.

There's going to be a lot more media events, for a lot more rail station openings, if Metro and voters approve the sales tax plan outlined in the Times. Image: ##http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2016/03/05/metro-unveils-1-billion-gold-line-extension-through-san-gabriel-valley/##CBS2##
There’s going to be a lot more media events, for a lot more rail station openings, if Metro and voters approve the sales tax plan outlined in the Times. Image: ##http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2016/03/05/metro-unveils-1-billion-gold-line-extension-through-san-gabriel-valley/##CBS2##

But the benefits are substantial: an extension of rapid transit to Santa Ana, the construction of the “Pink Line” (connecting the under-construction Crenshaw Line up to West Hollywood), a rail station at LAX, heavy rail under Vermont Avenue connecting the Purple Line to the Expo Line, and, finally, a reliable transit connection from the Valley to the Westside.

The Times has a more complete project list with descriptions, here.

The plan also sets aside billions of dollars for part of a public-private partnership to build a tunnel through the Sepulveda Pass for a toll road. Conceivably, some large foreign financier is jumping at the chance to help pay for this tunnel in return for a portion of the tolls collected. The tunnel could be large enough to have rapid bus lanes or even light rail.

For me, this last part is certainly a bummer but not enough of a reason to vote against the sales tax. But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to propose a Streetsblog endorsement of the measure, at least not until we see a complete project list and expenditure plans. What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments section below.

  • chairs missing

    If only money grew on trees!

  • chairs missing

    Indeed. LA needs more car capacity like I need a hole in my head.

  • chairs missing

    Agreed. LA’s transportation problem is overblown anyhow. First and foremost, we have a land use problem. Too many stroads, too much parking, way too much red tape for small biz, crappy sidewalks, little-to-no bike infrastructure, not enough housing or business activity per block, etc.

    I see no point in dropping $120B into more rail (and certainly not into more roads), when we’re still zoning 99% of the city exclusively for motorists. Fix that first… it’ll be much cheaper to implement, and will increase the tax base to help pay for more bus service and rail lines (using existing revenue streams.)

  • ohana2

    Sierra Modre, horses; Monrovia, horses;Bradbury, lots of horses; Azusa, horses; Glendora, horses. This is where the MTA is currently building and proposing further expansion.

    Santa Monica, no horses, West Los Angeles, no horses; Beverly Hills, no horses; West Hollywood, no horses; Hollywood, no horses; East Hollywood, no horse; Silverlake, no horses; etc.

    Now I ask you, where are there more humans and less livestock?

  • Marcotico

    I hope when it is finally announced Metro makes it clear that projects in the later years are not “funded”, but rather their planning and engineering will be funded.

  • calwatch

    The question is how much transportation investment is necessary? Measure R is, in my opinion, good enough. Maybe in 10 years we can come up with a program to extend the tax and build more things, but all the important rail lines, like the subway to Westwood, east San Fernando Valley guideways, and the Green Line extension to Torrance are funded under existing Measure R. So what if dubious projects like the 710 tunnel and West Santa Ana Branch light rail don’t get funded because Measure R runs out of money?

  • Dennis_Hindman

    There isn’t enough sales tax revenue under Measure R to complete all the projects. The east San Fernando Valley transit improvement project only has enough money under Measure R for a curbside bus only lane, it needs $2.5 billion more for light rail, and the Sepulveda pass transit project needs at least another $6 billion. To connect the ESFV transit project from its southern terminus at the Orange Line to the proposed Sepulveda Pass project will probably require very expense tunneling. Opposition from car dealerships along Van Nuys Blvd forced a change in plans from going all the way to Ventura Blvd where rail could have connected to the Sepulveda pass project.

    A recent Metro study of a three mile radius for bicycling and half-mile for walking to 661 transit stations in the county found this would require $1 billion per year for 20 years. Breaking that down by population, there would need to be about $295 million spent per year in the city of Los Angeles compared to the approximately $10 million spent per year currently.

    I don’t agree that a sales tax is a overly regressive form of taxation. Raw food is not taxed, or housing, nor is transit. Only a small portion of a lower income persons take home pay would go towards paying sales taxes. For that they get much more in return, including easier ways to get to more jobs by having more transit rail lines built and a lower rate to ride transit.

    Mass transit rail lines work best in high population density areas, most of which are in the core of the city of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, due to having to please the whole county in order to get a sales tax measure passed, there were rail lines installed in lower density areas such as the Gold Line north, its Foothill extension east and the Green Line.

    The average street condition is in abysmal shape in the county. The city of Los Angeles average street condition is C-. An additional sales tax measure will likely have money going to each city for street maintenance. Doing nothing means that people driving are paying much more to maintain their cars annually due to the poor condition of the roads than they would be paying for an additional sales tax.

  • Phantom Commuter

    Has never seen a horse in Monrovia, Azusa or Glendora. Only nice, walkable Downtowns that have better potential for car-free living than many parts of L.A. BTW…the Gold Line does not serve Bradbury. Proves my point that you are just making things up.

  • calwatch

    Those towns could be denser though. Not Westside dense but at least to the level of a Fullerton or Brea.

  • Joe Commuter

    You say Wilshire isn’t a real example. Can you point to a real example that supports your assertion? Didn’t think so.

  • Ed

    I’m mainly referring to the parking situation at APU station in the morning, but the delayed construction of Citrus/Foothill intersection doesn’t help (if that’s the delay you’re referring to). If I were willing to take the bus (which I admit I’m not, given the added transit time), I’d have to walk nearly a mile to get to the station. Whereas if the intersection were complete, there would/should be a bus stop right there and then only about a 2-block walk to the station. Then I’m also hearing about late/crowded trains and wondering if those would have turned me off the gold line extension anyway.

  • ohana2

    Get out of Downtown in these cities and you will see horses and maybe some chickens to boot.

  • Slexie

    My assertion is questioning THE assertion made here that bus only lanes save lives. Is that really some point that matters? The ambulances isn’t getting to you any faster because a street now has a bus only lane. It’s just a ridiculous thing to say so that later you can turn around and say, “What, you don’t want to save lives?” It’s a point used to make people feel guilty and it’s really stupid. I could make the assumption that a bus lane doesn’t save lives because it shortens response times based on what? Some hypothesis I came to based on conditions kinda like something similar? Give me a break.

  • Slexie

    I don’t believe you’re the one who said they save lives anyway. So I don’t know why you’re making demands on me. You can’t prove bus lanes don’t hinder response times can you? Didn’t think so.

  • Darren

    Agree completely that some form of dedicated transit ROW along SM Blvd should be a priority if Metro wants to provide a real alternative to traffic on the west side.

    However, “real” BRT (full-time dedicated lanes, off-board fare payment, no sections shared with private vehicles, signal priority, center alignment to avoid conflict with right-turning vehicles with separate signal phases to allow left turns, strict enforcement against cheating private vehicles) would require a combination of changes that seem politically inconceivable: remove most on-street parking, make SM Bl 1 lane in each direction for private vehicles, and/or purchase hundreds of properties for demolition and road widening.

  • Slexie

    Nope. CIM bought the property known then as The Old Spaghetti Factory at a reduces assessment. That purchase was part of the scandal at the LA County Assessors Office that sent people to jail. 5 floors of the SG Towers were being used as a hotel and the residents complained. That tower is not zoned for that. The attorney you’re talking about didn’t make them do that did he? Nope, he just pointed it out. Same thing with the Target. They never had the proper permits and they got caught. The developers are not the victims here. You should read about what really happened and learn something other than the SJW take on everything.

  • Ed, you ought to look at a map or better yet swing by the station when you have some free time. The Azusa Downtown station is not very far from the APU/Citrus terminus. At Azusa DT there is a larger parking garage, easy access for both cars and pedestrians to Foothill Blvd (and to Foothill Transit buses). When one goes west on Foothill to Palm to access the APU/Citrus station, one is already about a quarter of the way to the Azusa DT station. Until that Rosedale underpass gets built, I am treating Azusa Downtown as the end of the line.

  • There are also Coyotes. Just need to import some Roadrunners.

  • Run a bus first and prove there is the demand. See Metro Rapid 720 as exhibit A

  • I regularly see LASD doing stings on the Wilshire Bus Lanes.

  • Joe Linton

    (Stings on drivers using the lane? or peds?)

  • Slexie

    So I guess these people are liars?

    “Last Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., I observed hundreds of drivers breaking traffic laws, most of them driving straight ahead through right-turn-only designated intersections, but also two cars illegally parked in the designated “anti-gridlock” tow-away no-parking lane. I observed dozens of these cars clearly impeding the progress of the very frequent Wilshire buses. ”

    http://la.streetsblog.org/2015/05/19/law-breaking-drivers-disrespecting-new-wilshire-boulevard-bus-only-lanes/

    “Cars routinely drive in the bus lane during bus-only/bike-only hours and enforcement is non-existent.”

    http://uclacha.org/2015/12/17/the-bike-bus-and-asshole-lane/

  • Stings on Drivers.

  • No, they are not liars, as many do cheat. But LASD is there often and must be making a boatload of revenue off it.

  • Slexie

    LASD doesn’t cover all of LA City. “Must be” is your opinion.

  • Why? We need to move past this model of “proving demand” first by bus lines and just realize that it’s about efficiently moving people. To that point, I-605 serves the same basic corridor and is perpetually stuffed. That should make it obvious that some sort of alternative should be explored, especially if any plans to widen 605 are in the works.

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