(We’ll resume our Measure J op/ed series tomorrow. During our one-day break, enjoy this piece by DTLA Rising author Brigham Yen’s view on the vote on the Downtown Streetcar funding measure. You can still vote by mail before November 28. – DN)
The deadline to register to vote for the L.A. Streetcar in Downtown L.A. has passed. Now registered voters within Downtown will be mailing in their votes by mail – to ensure the ballots are received on time, they should be mailed in by November 28. What direction future developments will take in Downtown L.A. will depend on whether residents see the value of the streetcar circulating pedestrians around town — promoting a walking culture and decreasing our dependency on the automobile — or allowing the status quo to remain perversely slanted toward a car-oriented mentality. This is L.A. after all, right? Wrong. I believe that most Downtown residents embrace the idea of urbanism and its car-lite or even car-free tenets.
While voting “yes” for the streetcar is a no-brainer for the vast majority of Downtown residents, a small number have questioned why the private sector should have to pay anything for a public transit project. Let’s face it, and it bears repeating again: The average condo owner would fork out about $60 in tax assessments for an entire year. That’s about half the price of a Disneyland ticket where revelers can ride in, basically, a full-sized toy train looping around the theme park for one whole day. Why wouldn’t you want a real train that takes you to where you need to go for the other 364 days in the year — for half the cost?
Have we not already spent billions and billions more on supporting a car-oriented infrastructure that has gotten us into this mess to begin with? The unending traffic, the incessant lack of parking, the unhealthy dependency on our cars, etc. If you ask me, downtowners spending $62.5 million, in addition to bond issuance costs, of course, is an absolutely tiny price to pay for the tremendous amount of benefits this new streetcar would bring.
The knee jerk reaction I have heard from the few skeptics out there who still view the streetcar with unfounded wariness is “Why do we need a streetcar when we have buses servicing Downtown L.A.?” That’s a valid concern about service redundancy, but the reality is these are two very different beasts: buses on rubber wheels and the streetcar on fixed rail alignments. The pink elephant in the room refuses to leave no matter how hard we wish more people would just get on those buses. Read more…