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Coalition Calls For 10 Percent of Future L.A. Sales Tax To Go To Walk-Bike

Other California county transportation sales tax measures set aside funding for walking and bicycling - why not Los Angeles? Image via white paper [PDF]

Other California county transportation sales tax measures set aside funding for walking and bicycling – why not Los Angeles? Image via white paper [PDF]

There is a new twist in the path to a 2016 Los Angeles County transportation sales tax measure, tentatively being called “Measure R2.”

Investing in Place, a new policy-based organization that has examined transportation sales taxes throughout the state, just held its own conference with a coalition of more than thirty community based partner organizations. The purpose of the gathering was to push a policy that  “at least ten percent of the next Los Angeles County transportation sales tax measure be dedicated for walking, bicycling, and safe routes to school investments.”

In addition, the coalition is asking that twenty percent of the “local return” be set aside for active transportation. The sales tax “local return” goes to individual cities on a per capita basis to pay for transportation expenditures. Though a number of cities, notably the City of Los Angeles, have used some local return monies for walk and bike projects and programs, most cities throughout L.A. County have not.

Readers may be familiar with the proposed Measure R2, but if not, see these recent SBLA articles about what it tentatively looks like and what decisions are being made now. Though a very small amount of 2008’s successful transportation sales tax Measure R funding has gone to bike and pedestrian projects, there was no dedicated active transportation funding in either Measure R in 2008 nor the defeated transportation sales tax Measure J in 2012.

The coalition (a listing of groups is shown after the jump) was shepherded under the auspices of the Los Angeles County Active Transportation Collaborative, the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, and Investing in Place.

They researched other transportation ballot measures in California, finding many examples of successful set-asides for active transportation, prominently last year’s Measure BB in Alameda County, with twelve percent of overall funding dedicated to walking and bicycling. Read the coalition research in this January 2015 white paper: Best Practices for Funding Active Transportation with County Transportation Sales Taxes [PDF].

More about the coalition and its demands here.

While we won’t know the final ballot language for a 2016 measure until next year, Metro was promising tht it would have a draft proposal this summer. However, Investing in Place is also reporting that the Measure R2 schedule is being delayed about two months: the final expenditure plan was due in July, now it looks like September.  Read more…


Eyes on the 2016 Transportation Measure: R2 Could Be Two Ballot Measures

A potential Measure R2 L.A. County transportation sales tax could be two different ballot measures: a new half-cent tax and an extension of 2008's Measure R. Graph via SGVCOG [PDF]

A potential Measure R2 L.A. County transportation sales tax could be two different ballot measures: a new half-cent tax and an extension of 2008’s Measure R. Graph via SGVCOG [PDF]

There is a new chart out that shows some of what a possible new Metro sales tax, “Measure R2” might look like. As outlined in this earlier article, the sales tax would be put to the voters in the presidential election in late 2016, but the political process shaping the proposal is happening right now. If all goes according to schedule, the Metro Board will finalize an expenditure plan in July 2015.

Thanks to commenter calwatch for drawing SBLA’s attention to this briefing packet [PDF] from San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG). The various subregional COGs have a lot of say in shaping the massive project lists, “Mobility Matrices,” which are being narrowed down into the Measure R2 expenditure plan. As calwatch characterizes them, “COGs are obscure collections of cities and Board of Supervisors’ reps, but they are where the meat of priority setting and project picking is going on.”

In the proposal as it now stands, there are basically two new Metro sales taxes – two different ballot measures – on the table right now:

  1. A new half-cent sales tax: “Metro staff is assuming that 50% of the revenue generated would be used for local return, transit operations and facility repairs. Metro staff is seeking subregional input on the remaining 50%, assuming the Metro Board elects to distribute the funds by a population- and employment-based formula to each subregion for transportation capital improvements.”
  2. Extending Measure R’s half-cent sales tax: generally continuing the 2008 “adopted expenditure plan consist[ing] of a funding split of 40% for transit capital projects and 20% for highway capital projects. The remaining 40% was split as 20% for transit operations generally, 15% for local return, and 5% for rail operations. Essentially, this meant that of the capital funding that was available, 67% went to transit projects and 33% went to highway and highway-related projects”

The SGVCOG documents (Exhibit E) also include some Metro focus-group polling, but it appears to be a fairly small sample: four focus groups of ten persons each. The conclusions appear somewhat predictable and inconclusive: among participants, “there is a strong sense that the traffic problem is getting worse” and three-quarters of participants state that they would “definitely” or “probably” vote “yes” on Measure R2 as presented.

Perhaps Metro’s research shows otherwise but, in the past, voters facing a large list of bond measures sometimes just vote “no” on everything. What do you think, readers? Are two ballot measures better or worse? If they stack up against other bonds, such as the perhaps-now-dormant L.A. City road bond, is it likely that a two-thirds majority can be achieved?

Metro’s new CEO Phil Washington starts this Monday, May 11. He is credited with success in passing and implementing Denver’s FasTracks, including a ballot bond measure entirely for public transit, without all that counterproductive highway widening. It will be interesting to see where Washington weighs in on the Measure R2 processes underway.


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…


Move L.A.’s South L.A. Forum Asks if Transit Can Deliver Shared Prosperity

Figueroa Ave., just north of 85th St.

A man takes shelter in the shade of a telephone pole at a bus stop on Figueroa Ave., just north of 85th St. in South L.A., on a hot summer day. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

Riding my bike the 15 miles between my apartment and a Move L.A. forum on the future of transit at Southwest College on a dreary Saturday morning while battling the tail end of a stubborn respiratory infection was not among the brightest ideas I had ever had, I reflected as it began to drizzle and my hacking started getting the best of me.

But I hadn’t wanted to take the bus (buses, as, technically, I would have had to have taken two). Between the walking and the waiting for lines that run less frequently early on Saturday mornings, my door-to-door journey would probably come out at about two hours — half the time it took me to ride the route.

And the scenes I passed at bus stops on my way down the length of Vermont were not exactly selling bus riding to me.

The many, many folks crowding narrow sidewalks at unprotected bus stops looked rather miserable in the areas where rain was falling. Most yanked hats down over their ears, snuggled deeper into jackets, held newspapers or other random things over their heads to fend off the drizzle, and huddled over their kids to keep them dry. There are actual bus “shelters,” but they are few and far between, generally filthy and overflowing with trash, and offer little protection from the elements.

I even found myself dodging wet, frustrated people who had stepped out into the street to make the long-distance squint up Vermont that only regular bus riders can, searching in vain for a flash of orange. Others called out to ask if I had happened to pass a bus on its way to pick them up.

The state of the bus system in L.A. is not spectacular, in other words, despite the fact that it is responsible for ferrying 3/4 of all Metro transit riders (approximately 30 million people) back and forth per month.

But discussion of the bus situation was notably absent from the discussion on the future of transportation that unfolded over nearly five hours the morning of January 8.

Aside from the remarks of Southwest College alum Leticia Conley, who complained that some students’ ability to access education could be harmed by having to rely on buses that only ran once an hour, most of the discussion focused on rail.

The dotted blue lines represent Move L.A.'s proposal for expanded rail lines throughout L.A. County.

The dotted blue lines represent Move L.A.’s proposal for expanded rail lines throughout L.A. County.

In some ways, the oversight was by design. Besides gathering together leaders from the African-American community to talk about opportunities to make investments in transit translate into investments in the development of South L.A., the larger goal of the forum was to build support for putting a proposal for “Measure R2” on the 2016 ballot. Read more…


Guest Editorial: Dreaming Big About Rail Lines, Grand Boulevards, Bus Rapid Transit and Measure R2

The proposed Lorena Plaza development. Source:

The proposed Lorena Plaza development. Source:

(Move LA’s mission is to build a broad constituency that will advocate for the development of a comprehensive, diverse, robust, clean and financially sound public transportation system for Los Angeles County. Denny Zane is the executive director. Gloria Ohland is the policy and communications director.)

More and more people — from elected officials to bike and pedestrian advocates — are talking about projects that could be funded if a transportation sales tax measure is put on the November 2016 ballot.

Most recently, for example, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian stood in front of the TV cameras with a host of heavy-hitting transportation leaders from San Fernando Valley to advocate conversion of the super-successful Orange Line to light rail, and an extension to Bob Hope Airport, then Glendale, then Pasadena.

Other cities and their councils of government are dreaming big as well.

It’s all possible if voters have the opportunity to approve the right measure. Move LA is using a “strawman” proposal of funding ideas to gin up a “let’s dream big” conversation about the sales tax, which some are fondly calling “Measure R2” in acknowledgment of its predecessor — the Measure R half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2008 that is building the five new rail lines underway now.

The proposed 45-year half-cent sales tax “strawman” could generate $90 billion for transportation. The centerpiece is, as it was in Measure R1, significant expansion of the rail system. But we have another favorite in our strawman proposal — a transformational “Grand Boulevards” program. We propose taking 5-10 percent of the $90 billion for cities and councils of governments to invest in reviving and reinventing several-mile, multi-community-long stretches of maybe 15-20 arterials around L.A. County as transit-oriented boulevards that promote economic development as they pass through more than one community.

This money could fund both conventional and sustainable transportation improvements, from repaving and signal synchronization to clean, green, cool, and complete streets with more bus service,  better bus stops with real time arrival info, and wider sidewalks and bike lanes. It could fund landscaping and other community improvements that would make the boulevards appealing places on which to live and shop, and there would be incentives for transit-supportive mixed-use community development. Funding it could help leverage and implement L.A. Mayor Garcetti’s Great Streets program!

It’s important to remember that this is a transportation sales tax and must be used for transportation purposes. But what if 30 percent, a significant share of the funding in the Grand Boulevards program, were set aside in a competitive pot for cities willing to promote transit ridership by permitting moderate-density mixed-use transit-oriented development (TOD) along these grand boulevards?

This extra funding for transportation projects could be made available to those cities willing to permit apartments over shops and other housing that’s affordable and appealing for young people, aging Baby Boomers and others who want to be able to live without a car — and who can do that because it’s easy to walk and bike and take transit instead. Read more…


Move L.A.’s Measure R2 Draft Proposal, Including Their Rail Fantasy Map

Move L.A.'s draft breakdown for a possible 2016 transportation funding measre. Source: Move L.A.

Move L.A.’s draft breakdown for a possible 2016 transportation funding measure. Source: Move L.A.

Last week, Move L.A. convened its annual transportation conversation conference under the banner of “Imagining Measure R2.” The daylong conference was profiled in the L.A. Times and at the Source. Today SBLA takes a look at Move L.A.’s “strawman” R2 proposal presented that day. It’s a draft for purposes of discussion, very likely to change some before it would reaches the ballot in 2016. It looks a lot like Measure R, but there are also a few big differences.

Measure R was a 30-year county-wide half-cent sales tax narrowly approved by L.A. voters in 2008. Measure R funding has been key to Metro’s rail expansion underway, including the Gold Line Foothill Extension, Expo Line Phase 2, Crenshaw-LAX Light Rail, the Regional Connector, and the Purple Line Extension. In 2012, a subsequent transportation bond proposal, Measure J, received 66 percent approval, but narrowly failed to pass the two-thirds needed.

Measure R2, under Move L.A.’s initial strawman proposal, would be a 45-year county-wide half-cent sales tax, with project revenues approximately $90 billion. It would run concurrently with Measure R for R’s remaining 20+years, which presents some issues with overall sales tax limits in some L.A. County cities. R2 is anticipated to be on the 2016 ballot and would need to pass by a two-thirds majority.

The overall R2 breakdown (see pie chart graphic at top of post) is somewhat similar to Measure R.

category 2008 Measure R 2016 draft Measure R2
New rail & BRT capital 35.00% 30.00%
Metrolink capital 3.00% 5.00%
Rail capital existing lines 2.00%
Rail Operations 5.00%
Bus Operations 20.00%
Transit Operations 20.00%
Highway Capital 20.00% 20.00%
Local Return 15.00% 15.00%
Active Transportation (bike-ped) 4.00%
Goods Movement 6.00%

There are a few important differences. The strawman proposal includes funding for active transportation: pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

Read more…

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Expand Your Streets Knowledge at Upcoming Conferences

Move LA imagines the next transportation funding measure - details below

Move LA imagines the next transportation funding measure – details below

Over the next couple months, there are number of upcoming local conferences that L.A. Streetsblog readers might be interested in:

UCLA Lewis Center’s Digital Cities Smarter Transportation
Thursday, March 20th, 2014, 8 am – 7:30 pm
Japan American National Museum, DTLA
This conference explores the way mobile technology is changing transit, parking, food, and more – and the role of public and private institutions in managing these technologies.
Registration $179Streetsblog special: limited quantity of $129 tickets available – use discount code “sbla

Move L.A.’s Imagining Measure R2 … and Thriving L.A. County Communities
Friday, March 28th, 2014, 8:30 am – 4 pm
Cathedral Center, DTLA
This conference explores how Southern California communities can come together around investing in a robust transit system.
Registration $25-$75; scholarships available

Open Streets Project’s (with CicLAvia) Open Streets National Summit
Friday, April 4th – Sunday, April 6th, 2014
Line Hotel, Koreatown, L.A.
Learn the ins and outs of hosting open streets ciclovía events – from marketing to outreach to fundraising to route selection. Includes observation of and participation in the April 6th Iconic Wilshire Blvd CicLAvia festival.
Registration $395 (earlybird rate good until midnight tonight)

Urban Land Institute’s 14th Annual Urban Marketplace 
Wednesday April 23rd, 2014, 7:30 am – 12 pm
Dorothy Chandler Pavillion, DTLA
This conference and expo are designed to explore development strategies for L.A.’s lower income and higher poverty neighborhoods. Topics will include infill development, L.A. River revitalization, and development around USC and UCLA. More information as Urban Marketplace approaches. (L.A. Streetsblog is a media partner.)
Registration $70-$120

And, a couple of conferences hosted a bit farther away:

If you’re hosting a similar event, let us know – and consider promoting your event via an advertisement at L.A. Streetsblog.


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…