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Posts from the Measure J Category


Measure R 2 (or 2.1) Season Is Underway

Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 767 authorizing Metro to place a sales tax on a future ballot to fund transportation growth.The ballot measure would likely appear on the 2016 fall ballot, along with the presidential race, Congressional races and a variety of local races.

We’re back!

Within minutes of the signing, Move L.A. released a statement praising the signing and declaring that this time, they will get the a new transportation tax passed.

“It’s time to double down on Measure R!,” beamed Denny Zane, Move L.A.’s executive director.

“We’ll have the right measure, the right coalition and the right campaign — remember that in 2012 the bill authorizing Metro to put Measure J on the ballot wasn’t signed until 2 months before the election, making it difficult for supporters to put together a winning campaign,” he said in the statement.

Zane is referring to the 2012 campaign to pass Measure J, which extended a previous sales tax to accelerate the project list created by 2008’s Measure R. Measure J failed to pass, earning a mere 66.1% of the vote. Measure R earned 66.9% of the vote. With two-thirds of the vote needed to pass a new tax, that .8% is the difference between “just passing” and “just missing.”

Move L.A. has been advocating for a new sales tax pretty much since the moment Measure R passed seven years ago. After the near miss in 2012, Zane has stumped for the new tax, worked hard to build a diverse coalition, and floated a variety proposals: the so-called “strawman” lists. The Los Angeles Times has a list of projects for the most-recent strawman.

But ultimately, the decision on whether or not to move forward with a new sales tax measure now rides with the Metro Board of Directors. Current Metro Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas seems slightly less enthusiastic than Zane*, but still interested in exploring the opportunity.

“Angelenos have been tremendously supportive of measures that help build and expand our transportation system ‎and reduce congestion,” Ridley-Thomas wrote in a statement. “The signing of this bill will allow Metro to continue to work with local stakeholders to determine whether to proceed with a measure for the November 2016 ballot.” Read more…


The Timeline for Metro’s November 2016 Transportation Sales Tax Measure

Denny Zane speaks at the Move L.A. Conference. Photo: Roger Rudick

Denny Zane speaks on Measure R2 at last week’s Move L.A. Conference. Photo: Roger Rudick

There is a lot of discussion these days about a potential ballot measure for a new sales tax to fund transportation projects and programs for Los Angeles County. The non-profit Move L.A. has dubbed the future tax “Measure R2,” after the successful 2008 Measure R half-cent sales tax. Move L.A. first offered their “straw man” proposal on how to spend the money one year ago. More recently, they hosted forums in South L.A., the San Fernando Valley, and downtown L.A. to discuss potential future transportation funds and projects.

The ballot measure will not go before voters until next year’s presidential election in November, 2016. Coinciding with the presidential election likely means a higher voter turnout, which gives the tax a better chance of meeting the “super majority” two-thirds threshold it will need to pass. Even in a presidential election, however, the two-thirds needed will be difficult to achieve. For example, see Measure J, which, despite receiving a strong 64+ percent approval, still fell short of passing in 2012 by a narrow margin.

Even though the election will not take place until 2016, there is a lot happening right now to shape Measure R2. Metro compiled what are called “Mobility Matrices” [PDF] which are basically a massive laundry list of 2,300+ projects and programs. Just like Measure R, the matrices projects are not all trains, buses, and active transportation which Streetsblog readers tend to favor, but lots of freeways, road widening, goods movement, road widening, and more road-widening.

The list totals about $300 billion (where a Measure R2 might optimistically be projected to raise $90 billion) and will be analyzed and subsequently winnowed down to produce a proposed expenditure plan. The winnowing is, of course, a political process — the final project list needs to be geographically balanced enough to draw votes from all parts of the county.

One way to test that voter appeal is polling, which is currently underway at Metro, but has not been made public yet.

After the polling and horse-trading have shaped the expenditure plan, Metro staff will release a draft version, anticipated in June. The draft expenditure plan will be further shaped in committee, and approved by the Metro Board in late July.

From there, more polling and more politics will likely follow, with a final Metro board vote anticipated in June 2016.

There are lots of competing needs – maintenance and operations vs. shiny new projects, bus vs. rail, rail vs. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and whether any of the funding will be specifically designated for walking or bicycling. Measure R + Measure J totaled exactly zero percent set aside for active transportation, though some cities, notably Los Angeles, have used Measure R local return funding for bike and pedestrian projects. Read more…


The 710 and Measure R2: Can Los Angeles Build Transit and Beat Its Addiction to Asphalt?

Mayor Eric Garcetti addresses attendees at the MoveLA Conference at Union Station. Photo: Roger Rudick.

Mayor Eric Garcetti addresses attendees at the MoveLA Conference at Union Station. Photo: Roger Rudick.

“We have to build an army of people who are willing to say ‘enough is enough,’” said Mayor Eric Garcetti at Wednesday’s MoveLA conference at Union Station, speaking of the region’s traffic and pollution problems.

He was there, along with hundreds of other county and city leaders, drumming up support for Measure R2, a proposed sales tax measure to raise more money for transit.

A recurring theme at the conference was the need to reduce the number of cars.

“We must address CO2 emissions,” said Dr. Manuel Pastor, a director at USC’s Center for Sustainable Cities. “One way to do that is to reduce vehicle miles driven.”

Which made me wonder how R2’s successful predecessor, Measure R, ended up funding projects that will do exactly the opposite, such as double-decking the 710.

In 2008, voters approved R’s half-cent Los Angeles County sales tax for a slew of transportation projects. It raises about $40 billion over 30 years. Denny Zane, former mayor of Santa Monica, founded MoveLA to push for this initiative. It grew out of a need to fund the Wilshire subway extension; Downtown Los Angeles, Koreatown, Century City, Beverly Hills, Westwood, Santa Monica — the “core” of Los Angeles stretches down the length of Wilshire Boulevard. Without a heavy rail “spine” connecting the region’s densest area, the entire transit network is handicapped.

Denny Zane speaks at the Move L.A. Conference. Photo: Roger Rudick

Denny Zane speaks at the Move L.A. Conference. Photo: Roger Rudick

But how do you convince someone in Encino or Alhambra to vote for a subway under Wilshire? Read more…


Measure R++? Maybe in 2014. Probably in 2016

When Should Metro Push for a Measure R or Measure J Type Ballot Initiative

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In November of 2012, the Measure J ballot initiative went down to a narrow defeat despite garnering over 66% of the vote. Measure J would have extended the 2008 Measure R sales tax so that further bonding would be possible and promised transit projects could be completed sooner. From pretty much the moment the final vote was counted, transit watchers have wondered when Metro would try to pass another funding measure on the ballot.

The 2012 initiative received 66.2% of the vote. It needed 66.67%. The successful Measure R initiative in 2008 funds almost every rail transit expansion project now occurring in L.A. County.

A staff report discussed at yesterday’s Planning and Programming Committee of the Metro Board of Directors examines the major questions surrounding a proposed future sales tax to fund transit expansion. As The Source notes, nobody on the Metro Board of Directors is saying they support such a measure, yet, but pretty much everyone who watches the agency believes that a new transit funding ballot initiative is just around the corner.

A read of the report raises many questions, but two stand out:

1) What makes more sense, a 2014 or 2016 ballot initiative?

2) Should the initiative fund an extension of the existing tax and project acceleration or should their be a new project list? Read more…


Garcetti to Mobility 21: We’re Planning for the Next Measure R Campaign

Video provided by the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti

This morning, Eric Garcetti delivered a video message to the 1,000 attendees of Mobility 21’s 12 Annual Transportation Conference. The Mayor, in Washington D.C. to try and raise more funds for local and regional transit projects, stressed some familiar themes: America Fast Forward, Great Streets, Measure R…

But what grabbed my attention was about 20 seconds of text that may serve as the unofficial public kickoff for the next transit expansion ballot initiative campaign. Until there’s a more formal name, let’s call it Measure R++

This is why my first action as mayor was to call together a meeting of regional mayors from across the county to discuss the issues of future development. One common theme that emerged from that gathering back in August was that we desperately need more transportation investments. Currently, all the cities across L.A. County are submitting their ideas for investments as part of another transportation investment ballot initiative. These efforts will ultimately expand our transit system while at the same time increasing planning efforts to deliver vibrant neighborhoods across our transit network.

Read more…

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With Blumenfield in the City Council, What Happens to His Infrastructure Legislation in Sacramento

Following the near-miss Measure J, a 2012  ballot proposition that would have extended Los Angeles’ half-cent sales tax for transportation projects, local legislatures began examining a “fix” to state law. Despite Measure J receiving over 66% of the vote, it failed to reach the 2/3 threshold required by law.

Bob Blumenfield

ACA 8, Legislation introduced by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, will give voters a chance to reset that threshold through a constitutional amendment if the tax would go for infrastructure improvements.* If passed by the Senate, it would place a measure on the November 2014 ballot to reduce the threshold for passage of local infrastructure bond measures to 55% from the current two-thirds, the same threshold that currently applies to school bond measures.

It only takes a majority vote to pass an amendment to California’s constitution at the ballot box.

“ACA 8 will free local communities to determine for themselves the level at which they wish to invest in infrastructure projects and enhance their quality of life,” Blumenfield concluded.

But now Blumenfield sits on the Los Angeles City Council. So what does that mean for ACA 8? Apparently very little. The proposed Constitutional  Constitutional Amendment was passed by the Assembly in June, on Blumenfield’s last day in office. It is awaiting a hearing in the Senate’s Governance and Finance Committee before moving on to the full Senate. Blumenfield’s job change has no impact on the legislation’s progress.

For the many groups that fought for the passage of Measure J in 2012, Blumenfield’s Constitutional Amendment is a sort of holy grail. Barring a major shift in public opinion, a 55% yes vote for a transit tax extension such as Measure J would be easier to attain. After all, Measure J just missed receiving a two thirds vote just last year. In Alameda County, a 2012 vote on a transit tax was even closer. Read more…


Measure J’s “Rejection” Was NOT an Anti-Transit Vote

Measure J Needed 2/3 of the vote to win. It didn’t get it. Analysis to come. Photo:County of Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder

Maybe a two-thirds local threshold is just too high a bar to cross, maybe the No on J Campaign did its job too well, maybe voter turnout for the top of the ticket was too low. Whatever the reason, Measure J received “only” 64.7% of the vote last night, a full 1.95% short of the two-thirds threshold it needed to pass. “Only in California is 65% a defeat instead of a landslide victory,” wrote Denny Zane on his Facebook page. “…and that has to change.”

Measure J was a proposed extension of the 2008 Measure R sales tax that dedicated a half cent of L.A. County sales tax to transportation projects. Measure J would have extended the tax from 2039 t0 2069 allowing Metro to bond against the new revenue and “build 30 years of transit projects in 10 years.” The Measure needed the support of two-third of L.A. County voters in yesterday’s vote to pass.

There are many lessons that can be inferred from last night’s results, none of which point to a lack of support for transit expansion by L.A. County voters. We will conduct a better analysis after the election results are broken down geographically.

First, credit needs to be given to the No on J Campaign. On a shoestring budget, the group pulled together a county-wide campaign of opposition and planted stories and opinion pieces in newspapers and media outlets both large and small. The campaign also ran a grass roots effort of door knocking, phone banking and handing out literature on buses. Compare the No on J Campaign to the Bus Riders Union’s muddled “No on the 6” campaign in 2008 and their improved organization could be one reason for the small tilt in support.

For anyone who believes the Bus Riders Union is a political relic, yesterday’s win marks the second time in two years the group has expanded their coalition and pulled off a victory. Working with the Crenshaw Subway Coalition, the Beverly Hills Unified School District and the No on 710 Coalition, the BRU is showing it knows how to work with groups outside their traditional allies to pick up headlines grabbing victories. The first time would be the stopping Westside homeowners groups from exempting the entire Westside from the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit project. Read more…


Beyond the Spin, Breaking Down Measure J

On Monday, October 15, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was feeling good. The Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, which includes the Daily News, Daily Breeze, Long Beach Press-Telegram, SGV Tribune and Pasadena Star-News, had endorsed Measure J. In front of the hundreds of transit advocates and professionals at Railvolution, a sales tax extension that would largely accelerate transit projects was a popular topic. Villaraigosa smiled as he characterized the opponents of Measure J.

“The same familiar chorus is sniping and complaining,” he laughed before launching his applause line, “Of course, the same people are the first in line to spend the money.”

Bus Riders Union members and BHUSD President Brian Goldberg surround Damien Goodmon at a "No on J" press conference. Photo: Sahra Sulaiman

One week later, the “familiar chorus” responded with a pair of press conferences slamming Measure J, Villaraigosa and Metro. In the morning, a rally for the “No on J” Coalition gathered to a smattering of press. Attending were a who’s who of Metro’s harshest critics, including the Crenshaw Subway Coalition, the Bus Riders Union, The No on 710 Coalition, Union de Vecinos and the Beverly Hills Unified School District. L.A. Weekly referred to the gathering as a “Rainbow Coalition.” In the afternoon, two L.A. County Supervisors, one of whom is charing the Board of Directors at Metro, held their own event.

A poll taken last month, and published by L.A. Weekly shows that Measure J, which needs the support of two-thirds of L.A. County voters next Tuesday, is in a tight race. But beyond the spin and politics, the questions remains. Should it? Streetsblog attempts to go behind the spin and politics and takes a look at the same issues surrounding Measure J.

Image by Metro via Move L.A.

With all the discussion of the impact of extending a sales tax until 2069 and “corporate welfare,” at its heard Measure J is about expanding transit options. In 2008, Los Angeles County voters passed Measure R, a sales tax extension that goes largely towards transit expansion with some money set aside for highways, “local return,” transit operations and Metrolink “modernization.” Following the bills passage, Villaraigosa went on a crusade to convince the federal government to change its transportation funding formulas to benefit areas willing to tax themselves. This would benefit Los Angeles by allowing projects slated for construction decades from now to come online in the next ten years. Read more…


No 710 Coalition: No on Measure J

The No on J Coalition at the start of their October press event. Photo: Sahra Sulaiman

(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 and Wednesday Streetsblog Board Member Joel Epstein did the same. In between, the BRU made their case for a no vote. – DN)

Only in the car capital of the world could a proposal to build the next generation of mass transit include an enormous payout to the highway lobby. Measure J will provide $18 billion for highways. If “pro-transit” politicians, environmental, and livable communities advocates choose to ignore the fact that highways are not the future of Los Angeles, but rather our past, why should we have to pay for their misapprehension?

Today in Northeast LA and the San Gabriel Valley, $760 million, a quarter of a billion dollars from Measure R, the current 2009 ½ cent sales tax, is being dished up right now to a few contractors and developers merely to study the 4.5-mile 710 extension tunnels. It does not matter to the developers whether or not this disastrous polluting dangerous pair of tunnels is ever actually built, they are getting that money now. Measure J will extend that tax money until 2069.

This pair of 4.5 mile double-deck tunnels is being planed to run from El Sereno through Alhambra, South Pasadena, Pasadena to connect to the 210 freeway a few blocks from Huntington Hospital. Read more…


Measure J and the future of [transit in] L.A.

(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.

He voted.

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. Read more…