Metro Board Can Move Measure R Funds with Two-Thirds Vote

Despite near unanimous opposition by a parade of public speakers, the Metro Board of Directors voted with near unanimity. In fact, there was more disagreement among the present Board Members over grammatical changes to the ordinance that will allow voters to vote on extending the Measure R sales tax than there was over Duarte City Councilman John Fasana’s plan to allow the Board to move Measure R funds dedicated towards highway projects to transit projects. You can read the Board

The Metro Board of Directors, led by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, are proposing to extend the Measure R transportation sales tax passed by L.A. County voters in 2008.  Currently, the tax is set to expire in 2039, but under “Measure R+” it would expire in 2069. By extending the tax, Metro can bond against future revenue to build transit and highway projects faster.

The Fasana motion will allow funds to be moved from highway projects to transit projects, and vice versa, within a funding region. This motion will allow funds generated for highway projects in the San Gabriel Valley to be split between the Alameda Corridor East Grade Separation Project and the Gold Line Foothill Extension if two-thirds of the Metro Board of Directors approves the change. The motion was key to earning the endorsement of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments for the sales tax extension on the fall ballot.

A full list of the Metro Measure R project list and current funding plan is available here.

The only Board Member in attendance to vote against the motion was Metro Board Chair Mike Antonovich. Antonovich argued that because the Mayor of Los Angeles controls four votes on the Board of Directors, he could stop any transfer by just getting one more person to vote with him.  Of course, one could also argue that the entire five member Board of Supervisors could veto any swap themselves.

In truth, speakers spoke against pretty much everything on today’s agenda, which was both a continuation of the Board Meeting from 10 days ago and a special hearing on the Fasana motion. Many used the hearing as an opportunity to voice concerns with the proposed sales tax extension. Advocates for a variety of causes argued that the extension will speed up highway projects to the detriment of the region.

The always colorful John Walsh thundered that the tax extension, which would extend the sales tax until 2069, amounted to a “tax on our children’s grandchildren.” Later, he gestured disgustedly at the Metro Board that with the tax, “We are handing them a $135 billion blank check, unparalleled in the history of the world.”

Also testifying against the sales tax extension was the Bus Riders Union and opponents of the I-710 expansion project.  Speaking for the Crenshaw Subway Coalition, Damien Goodmon attacked public documents prepared to “explain” the sales tax extension for listing the Crenshaw Subway as a project that would be accelerated.  In truth, the Crenshaw Light Rail Line will receive no extra funding or accelerated timeline if the sales tax is extended. After Metro staff referred to this error as a “typo,” other Crenshaw advocates asked why South L.A. voters would support a tax that had no benefits for their immediate community.

In total, the Board approved the Fasana Amendment which allowed the swap of Measure R funds, a change to authorizing language to the ballot language for this fall’s extension, and a plan to publicize (not promote) the extension to L.A. County voters.  Measure R+ still needs the support of the State Senate, Governor Jerry Brown and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors just to make the fall ballot. It needs a two-thirds vote to pass.

  • Matt

    The city of Los Angeles is 40% of LA County.  Antonovich’s logic is silly as it would apply to anything in the County

  • Anonymous

    The regressive (and easily avoided) sales tax can now be used to lay more asphalt?  Be careful what you wish for!

  • Npayton

    South LA residents should support Measure R+ because the more extensive and robust the rail system is overall, the more value there is in the Crenshaw line. Every new stop on the system benefits every other pre-existing stop by providing that much more access. It’s a virtuous cycle

  • Jerard Wright

     When vital items such as food, rent, utilities and transportation are exempted from this sales tax the regressivity of the tax is significantly reduced and shifts slightly to a more progressive tax as the ones who will be paying more for it are the ones who have more disposable income

  • I want to drive

    How far can people go on the rails? I am talking about not driving car to stations.
    In case you forget, there are massive bus cut after 2008. No, they are not duplicate. It resulted in more transfer, more waiting, and more suffering.
    LA is so unique. It kept spending money on the rail, and Iit never thinks about how to transport the people around within the communities.
    Vote no on Measure R+.
    Teach those politicians. Tell them to go to New York and live without cars.
    They will know Measure R/R+  is a stupid design

  • I want to drive

     It is very silly to build limit miles of rails.
    Do you see the big parking lot structure at Expo Stations? They are all fully parked.
    It is West LA. It is not Westlake near Ventura. Why can’t we have better public transportation in WLA?
    Why can’t we better public transportation in 40% of area.
    Why can’t we have better public transportation in the rest of LA.

  • John0610

     That is exactly why I will be one of those voting against this tax.  If it just took from highways and put the money into transit, I would have been happy.  More asphalt, I say no!  30 years of tax is more than enough!  Stop the stupid taxing, taxing, and more taxing, and VOTE NO ON R+!

  • Dan Wentzel

    I look forward to voting for the Measure R extension.

  • calwatch

    This is light rail that is more of an S-Bahn type service, rather than intensive local rail like a streetcar. LA has gone for trains that stop every mile, figuring that most people can walk or bike to the stations. It’s not as bad as BART with their stations every four miles, but that is a legitimate concern. On the other hand, local bus service in central and eastern Contra Costa County is horrible, and most transit oriented development is concentrated along the BART stations. LA is trying to focus TOD near train stations, but people on bus lines need to change their trip patterns or walk or bike more.

  • Tmgulotta

    Vote NO on Measure R Fasana Amendment in the November Election. Are you kidding? $90,000,000 more dollars for freeways/highways and tunnels that run through neighborhoods and carry 90,000 trucks a day???? And guess what? All new highways and freeways are toll roads? Yep. Ad the monies from the toll roads are NOT staying in California. They are going overseas to foreign investors. So American tax payers across the U.S. will be paying for the Billion dollar projects but the foreign investors are keeping the profits. And we will incur damages of our “spacious skies and purple mountain majesties” until kingdom come. and let’s not forget about “eminent domain” and the $.50 cents on the dollar that the people will be forced to take for their homes. And the pollution that will be in the communities that are left living around these armpits of ugliness. Instead why not help business and commerce by building a CARGO FREIGHT RAIL LINE to move merchandise from the LA ports to the HIGH DESERT CORRIDOR. Cleaner, safer, more environmentally friendly. And everyone one on that MTA Board voted yes with the exception of Antonovich.

  • Tmgulotta

    I meant 90,000,000,000 billion more bucks for Fasana Amendment. NO SR 710 Extension does NOT HAVE ANY CHOICE FOR CARGO FREIGHT RAIL LINE. We want a cargo line that will move goods to get trucks out of the picture and destroying neighborhoods with freeway and highway choices.

  • Anonymous

    Jerard’s point is something that is forgotten far too often. 


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