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.”

The public process requires that the Metro Board of Directors decide on a proposed sales tax amount and decide how the money will be spent. The proposal will need to be approved by both the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and the Metro Board of Directors before going to the ballot where it will need a two-thirds majority to pass.

The Measure R and Measure J coalitions have included organized labor, business associations, transportation reform organizations and community groups. Opposing the measures were community organizations opposed to projects that would be funded by the measures, the Bus Rider’s Union and government organizations in Beverly Hills.

* To be fair, I was “slightly less enthusiastic than Zane” when the Cubs jumped to an early lead on the Pirates last night. I was pretty darn enthusiastic.

  • calwatch

    There are a lot of challenges still to be overcome. First is the fact that the November ballot will likely be one of the longest in recent memory, with a dozen or more state initiatives, at least four and possibly more which would raise or extend taxes. In some parts of LA County, residents now pay 10% in sales taxes, and they would pay 10.5% with the new sales tax, in addition to having to pay some of the highest income taxes in the nation.

    Secondly, as shown by the sign “Want rapid transit to the Valley?” above, a lot of the projects have not been completed. Metro is still studying what to do in the Sepulveda Pass corridor after all this time, and there is no indication when, seven years after Measure R passed, the environmental studies will be initiated. http://www.metro.net/projects/sfv-405/

    Third, you have a inherent tension between the transit/ped/bike advocates and the high propensity voters, who tend to skew older and drive everywhere. You get arguments from highway people like “two thirds of LA County residents support the 710 tunnel” when all they voted for was a small percentage of a sales tax to fund part of a tunnel. Meanwhile some of the bike and ped advocates want to defund spending on highways in this measure. As part of unconstrained lists dubious projects like the I-405 LAX “expressway” project pop up, which would be eligible for funding from this tax. You can’t please everyone all the time, but can we please 2/3rds of voters to pass the tax? I doubt it.

  • Tom Williams

    AND Guess what…M-R2 contains a highway program which would help build out the High Desert Corridor, SR-710 North, and I-710 South…400lane miles of concrete improvements to get 40K trucks/day to the Antonovich’s LACo Logistics Corridor and Riverside’s Colton Center….Help build because even Metro does not believe it can get the public – U&me – to pay the full bill of $15B+$10B+15B = $40B when Meas.R2 is good for ONLY $90B…So they want to make it easy for a Public Private Partnership (also translate as Privates Plunder Publics)…also the highway program has expanded to give lots of little presents ($10-20M / each to local towns and cities to promote acceptance of the highway troika)…

  • Matt

    Calwatch,

    I agree it will be very difficult to pass a Measure R2. The bar has been raised and we already have 3 sales tax increases in LA County going to transportation. I think Metro has had a very tough year. Ridership is falling on both bus and rail lines throughout the system. Rail lines have had major maintenance problems with the Gold Line having major failures almost monthly it seems.

    Maybe 2016 will show things turning around as Metro opens quite a few small projects as well as the Expo and Foothill Gold Lines. However, with so many tax increases on the ballot and a more cynical electorate than 2008 as well as reduced gas prices, the measure will likely do no better than Measure J in my opinion.

  • Tom Williams

    Sierra Club Angeles Chapter is opposed to any new pavement…let’s make the existing pavement work better….Metro is trying to keep the political legacy project of M.Antonovich alive – High Desert Corridor which would get about 40,000 53ft container trucks per day from the I-710 > SR-710 > I-210 > I-5 > SR-14 > HDC…that is why they have been rehabilitating the I-710, I-210, I-5/SR-14 pavements and to squeeze another lane for an Express Lane couplet (=$$$)…. SC-AC wants – get on rail…especially for the Goods/Freight….

  • Mike

    I’m typically against such proposals, but I do think that LA metro has displayed their capabilities and come through with their promises of improving transit in the area. We have the most extensive transit improvements in the country happening at a great pace (comparatively…) and their efforts will do wonders to alleviate LA’s biggest problem (car dependency) I’m voting in favor.

  • James Fujita

    “It’s not perfect! Destroy it before it grows!”

    ***a few years later***

    “why is there no train to here?”

  • Well, we don’t really know what is in R2…Move LA’s strawman proposal is just that, it’s up to MTA to decide what would really be in the proposal.

  • antiqueshopper

    Some things to ponder…money for 710 tunnels in Measure R, not! This myth has been promoted by the city of Alhambra and is factually incorrect. The cities of La Canada Flintridge and South Pasadena litigated this issue and lost the court case on appeal, but won In the end.

    Metro attorney’s are on the legal record that the tunnels are “not” a project listed in Measure R and that the money earmarked for 710 Gap Closure, the actual listed project, could be used for other projects. If anyone doubts, go look it up!

    Second thing to ponder…the No on Measure J coalition was outspent $111,000 to $1. They won because they had a winning argument that the R money was not being spent effectively and why hand over more to the Metro Board by approving J!?!?! And, in addition, in the few months prior to the vote there were a series of really negative large public meetings held by Metro and the City of Pasadena, with over 1,000 people attending and protesting the 710 tunnels from Pasadena to El Sereno (city of LA). All of this negativity was the perfect storm to produce the defeat of Measure J by the slimiest margin.

    Some might argue that was then and this is now that that couldn’t happen again. Well, that is not a winning argument, because just as attention is being focused on “son of Measure J,” Measure R2, we have the release of the draft EIR for the 710 Gap Closure comments and again we have a whole rash of negative comments that have come in against the 710 tunnels from EPA,AQMD, Keck School against the air quality, etc.

    Best chance of passing Measure R2 for Metro Board is by the elimination of the 710 tunnels once and for all and all the negative press surrounding the tunnels instantly goes away. Throwing any more good Measure R money after bad studying a doomed project ($40 million and counting) that can never be built shows the Metro Board as being fiscally irresponsible.

  • CV Gal

    True Damien, we won’t know which projects will show up on the final list of projects. But I have seen the so-called “wish list” for the Crescenta Valley and it is all highway focused. The projects couldn’t be more frivolous and irrelevant. And for this, we saddle our future grandchildren with this tax? Just like Measure R, taxpayers may be tempted to vote for the bad projects to get the good projects done. I agree with Tom that transportation leaders may have more of a chance of the measure passing with the I-710, SR-710 and HDC removed. I look forward to seeing how this all plays out.

  • Alex Brideau III

    I hate to say it, but I agree that it’s more likely than not that the measure will fail. Of course, I plan to vote for it, but my admittedly amateur grasp of the current political climate tells me that a 2/3 supermajority of the electorate will not agree with me. :-(

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