Metro Board Has Three Huge Decisions on Thursday
When a decision on a proposed budget that assumes the cutting of another 72,000 hours of bus service is the third most controversial item on the agenda, you know it’s going to be a long meeting. Highlighting the agenda, which will include discussion of diversifying options for buying weekly passes and the HOT Lanes transponder issue are: a vote on the Crenshaw Subway and Leimert Park Station motion, a decision on the Wilshire Bus Only Lanes route, and passage of the FY2012 Budget.
Last month, the Board postponed what advocates for a grade-separated Crenshaw Line and a station for Leimert Park are simply calling “The Decision.” L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas caught transit advocates, and some fellow Board Members, off guard with a motion last month calling for funding grade-separation of the Crenshaw Line from 48th Street to 59th Street and construction of a Leimert Park Station. His motion suggested that some of the funds for this addition to the Crenshaw Line could come from Measure R funds dedicated to Expo Line Phase II and the Green Line extension to LAX.
As you might expect, this caused quite a lot of debate and concern from Westside politicians and advocates, but Ridley-Thomas and “Crenshaw Subway” supporters insist the proposal isn’t about dissing other projects, but about getting the project they want for their community. The Board didn’t vote on the proposal last month after it cleared committee by a 2-1 vote, waiting for the then-absent Mayor to make his return at this month’s meeting.
While it takes a two-thirds vote to actually move voter-approved Measure R funds, it would only take a majority vote to pass this motion declaring the “Crenshaw Subway” and Leimert Park Station part of the Locally Preferred Alternative.
Advocates for the improved Crenshaw Line are planning to pack the Metro Board Room. Chartered buses will leave the Crenshaw District at 7:30 A.M. For more information on how to get involved, please visit Fix Expo.
Next up is a vote on the Wilshire Bus-Only Lanes. The final route for the project must be approved by both the Los Angeles City Council and Metro Board of Directors. In short, there are three routes being proposed by Metro staff. The first runs from Downtown Los Angeles to the border with the City of Santa Monica excluding the City of Beverly Hills. The second is the same route minus a one mile stretch of Westwood opposed by County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky for political reasons. The third cuts off the route at La Cienega and excludes the entire Westside of Los Angeles. Metro staff is recommending the second option after the Metro Board asked them to study it at a Board Meeting in 2010. Anyone that is interested but wants more details on the politics of this decision, click here.
After a Metro Committee voted last week 5-0 for the staff recommended 7.7 mile route including a 5.4 mile stretch east of La Cienega and a 2.3 mile stretch west of Westwood through Brentwood, it is expected that the Board will endorse this route. However, the City Council, pushed by Westside Councilman Bill Rosendahl who doesn’t seen the benefit of a Westside route without the support of Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, could still back a 5.4 mile route causing a showdown between the two governmental bodies. If a route is not approved by both bodies by September, the project could lose its federal funding.
Speaking of budgets, the last showdown of the day could be on Metro’s proposed FY 2012 budget which runs from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. Earlier this month, noting that the overall increase in funding in this year’s budget was Capital funds for rail projects created by the 2008 sales tax, Streetsblog said this budget “represents a changing tide in the bus v. rail debate.” As you might expect, not everyone is happy about that tide, and some amendments, including ones eliminating the proposed 72,000 hours of bus service not already cut this year, are expected.