Who Is Lining Up to Fight Measure M

So far, most of Streetsblog L.A.’s coverage of Measure M, Metro’s sales tax proposal that will be on the fall ballot, has been positive. With our eyes fixed on graphics showing the growth of our rail and rapid bus network, a robust active transportation funding program, and some flexibility in the language allocating highway funding; there’s a lot to like in the proposal.

Photo: Jose Escobar/Fans of Los Angeles Metro Rail on Facebook
Photo: Jose Escobar/Fans of Los Angeles Metro Rail on Facebook

But no ballot measure, especially one of this size, is perfect and there are many groups fighting the ballot measure for a variety of reasons. Here’s a list of some of the main opponents of Measure M, along with a few others that might join the fight in the future.


Fight for the Soul of the Cities and the Bus Riders Union – The BRU has fought tooth and nail against Measure R in 2008 and Measure J in 2012. Their arguments, both then and now, focus on two points. First, they argue that Metro cannot be trusted with such a large infusion of funds because of a poor civil rights record. Second, they feel the measure’s focus on automobile flow and rail expansion instead of more robust growth for the bus network and greater fare subsidies won’t actually do anything to improve mobility or the environment. Read more details on their arguments, here.

Carson, Torrance, Rancho Palos Verdes, Signal Hill, Santa Fe Springs, Commerce and Norwalk – These seven southeast cities argue that because the main project for their corner of the county, a freeway widening, isn’t scheduled for construction for decades that they are being forced to subsidize the rest of the county’s transportation plan. A recent lawsuit filed against the project also alleges lies in the approved ballot language.


The headline doesn't leave a lot to the imagination. Read the full story, here.
The headline doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination. Read the full story, here.

The City of Beverly Hills – John Mirisch isn’t just a commenter at The Source, he’s also the Mayor of Beverly Hills. Given the city’s opposition to one of Metro’s signature projects, the Purple Line Extension from mid-town to the V.A. Hospital, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the City renewed its opposition to a Metro proposed sales tax. Beverly Hills was a key member of the coalition that narrowly defeated Metro’s Measure J in 2012. Mirisch recently authored a long piece on the Huffington Post outlining why, in his view, a vote for Measure M will benefit Metro staff and developers and be bad for everyone else.

The Crenshaw Subway Coalition – In 2012, the Coalition was also a key member of the No on Measure J campaign mainly because there was not enough funding going to fun a full-grade-separated Crenshaw Line through South L.A.’s black-owned business districts.

At an anti-J rally, executive director Damien Goodmon argued “We are all opposed to…the crony capitalism, we are opposed to MTA becoming an ATM for the 1%, the developers and the contractors. We stand across the street from View Park Prep School (at Slauson and Crenshaw) where a proposed light rail line will be endangering the safety of children. It’s a common thread throughout the region…in Beverly Hills, in South LA, in East LA… and we see an agency that can simply not be trusted with our tax dollars.”

While the Crenshaw Line is under construction, an infusion of funds might not be enough to do the grade separation the coalition wanted four years ago. The organization is still active and is doubtless not happy with Metro.

“Taxpayers Rights” Organizations – There are a handful of organizations that oppose every newly proposed tax including the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Even if they haven’t taken a position on Measure M yet, they almost certainly will.


No on 710 – The No on 710 Coalition is widely believed to have fought Measure J because its imagery appeared at No on Measure J events and the issue of the proposed highway tunnel extension was brought up by opposition. However, when I reached out to one of the leaders of the organization, they stressed that they were not in opposition to Measure J in the past nor Measure M today.

“First, let me say that the our organization, the No 710 Action Committee did not oppose Measure J. The issue of the tunnel was used by other opposition groups, so there was some confusion about our official position. As far as Measure M is concerned, Metro has included language in the ordinance that precludes the use of Measure M funds for construction of the tunnel alternative. The No 710 Action Committee does not oppose Measure M. We have always supported good projects such as the extension of the Gold Line to Claremont, and in fact strongly recommend that the remaining $700 million dollars (approximately) targeted by Measure R for the SR 710 be used instead for the very worthy Gold Line Extension.”


Familiar faces.
Familiar faces.

The Coalition to Preserve LA – The organization which is fighting to pass the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative in March of 2017 has yet to take a position on Measure M and quite possibly never will. However, some of the Coalition’s highest profile backers are vocal opponents of Measure M and some of Measure M’s highest profile supporters are opponents of the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative. Will this lead to opposition on Measure M? Probably not, but stranger things have happened.

Did I miss someone? Let me know in the comments section.

  • John Mirisch

    Ad hominem (Godwin’s law inducing) insults aside, nobody is saying we should “just build nothing.” However, we clearly need to answer the ultimate question about future growth which is “what is the endgame?” A spiral of future growth without end is the very definition of unsustainability.

    In addition to the limited options you mention above, there will be new paradigms created by disruptive and transformational transportation technologies going forward. That’s also the very definition of disruption. Autonomous Oriented Development, as described below, offers exciting opportunities to allow for organic growth, while affording people quicker, more-efficient commutes and — more importantly — easier access to jobs throughout the county.

    This is a much better option than the disproven Reaganomic trickle-down theories of housing you seem to ascribe to above. However, there is no evidence to suggest that a glut of luxury housing (which currently has up to 20% vacancy rates) will put downward pressure on the price of housing elsewhere. There are speculators, absentee landlords and induced demand which themselves can skew the market and preclude any unburdening of the lower end of the market. In fact, the overbuilding of luxury units has led to gentrification and displacement, and is part of the reason a tipping point has been reached. Not surprisingly, the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative is a natural consequence.

    Autonomous oriented development can — if implemented correctly — solve a lot of that, while avoiding the problems of displacement and sudden gentrification. It can reduce the need for parking, which would open up opportunities for more green space, affordable housing and other amenities which create livability within a city.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Running at six minutes of headway and three car trains, the Expo light-rail Line can carry as many people per peak commute hour in one direction as two mixed-use freeway lanes. This means that the Expo Line is a much more efficient use of space to transport people during peak hours than a mixed use freeway lane.

    As automated automobiles are introduced, its likely that light-rail trains will be able to have headway’s closer together by the increasing use of automation. Trains use fixed routes that have been setup with much more control over the space that it travels in compared to cars. With much less variables where potential collisions could occur, its much easier to automate trains than cars.

    The idea of using cars as the main form of transportation in big cities suffers from a problem known since third century BC Euclidean Geometry and that is that the space that those boxes known as cars take up is much greater to move the same amount of people as one box buses or trains containing three boxes. Cars take up more space to move the same amount of people than any other land based form of transportation. Which means cars are the least efficient way of moving people around in a large city in terms of space. Cars also have to pickup and drop off people by stopping somewhere. That also takes up much more space than buses or trains. Imagine how much space would be needed to drop off or pick up 50 workers at a building at the same time with one or two passengers per car. Here’s a series of three pictures in a blog post that illustrates that problem:


    The time scheduled for the Expo Line to go from its terminus in Santa Monica to downtown LA is 47 minutes. That’s not “almost an hour”, its two minutes more than 3/4 of an hour.

    Los Angeles is built out. The only growth is going to be along arterial streets, all of which are at fixed locations. Heavy rail or light-rail doesn’t need to be flexible to reach population growth in built out Los Angeles.

    The Metro rail lines have expanded the capacity to move people by creating additional transportation corridors. The amount of motor vehicles lanes in the LA area are not going to expand enough to handle the increasing amount of motor vehicles. That means the rail lines will become increasingly competitive in terms of ease of use and speed compared to the automobile during peak commute hours. Which is why commuting by train in the LA area is once again becoming popular as it was 90 years ago.

    The principle of transit oriented development is to create more housing and businesses within walking distance to major transit lines. That makes it much more likely that people will use walking and transit for some of their weekly trips. Also less need for parking spaces since there is a lower percentage of the population driving at any given time.

    Creating more housing is not a cause for the overall increased housing costs in LA. Its lack of enough supply of housing to meet the demand that is the main reason for high housing prices. Newer housing units tend to be higher priced than the older units these replaced. A bigger supply of housing for a given demand means that there is less demand per unit. That increased housing makes it more difficult for the overall prices to rise at the same rate as it did when there was less supply for the demand.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Autonomous Oriented Development is a model for suburbs, not urban areas. It takes a lot more space to move one or two people in a car compared to walking, bicycling, buses or trains. Large cities have more residents per mile of motor vehicle lane than suburbs do. There simply is not enough motor vehicle lanes to efficiently move everyone by car in large cities. High cost of housing is causing people to move further away from LA and then commuting into LA. That is creating congestion on the freeways which lead into LA. More cars on the road is not a solution to that problem.

  • John Mirisch

    You are being very generous by citing scheduled Expo times rather than the real times. Not infrequently, the start to terminus transit time is anywhere from 53 to 55 minutes, not including waiting times. But, sure, let’s even say that it took only 45 minutes. That would give an average speed of 20 mph, which is anything but stellar. And you are only talking about peak traffic.

    The paradigm of fixed transit lines is undoubtedly one that has had currency for the past hundred years, and it is rooted in the turn of the 20th Century. Yet what your support of the status quo doesn’t take into account is the effort which people who use public transportation under such a model have to make. Commuters need to adapt and adjust to the system. Flipping that paradigm on its head and developing a transportation system which adapts and adjusts to the needs of the commuters would completely change the way we think of mobility.

    For all the discussion of geometry, fixed lines have severe limitations (precisely because they are fixed). They necessitate the need for first/last mile (or more) solutions, which have been effectively ignored by our local transit authorities and they ignore the human need for real-life point-to-point transportation, which ideally would be on demand.

    While LA is built out, it is still sprawling. I’m guessing fixed heavy-rail trunk lines will still play a role in a truly 21st Century system, but light-rail less so. While rail may be able to pack more people in (and remember, the more people are packed in, the less attractive the form of transportation becomes for regular commuters).

    Single occupancy cars in today’s model are extremely inefficient. Future systems incorporating AV’s need to try to move away from the single-occupancy model (e.g. AV shuttles, buses, etc.) and move to smaller, space-saving and efficient pod-like vehicles (I’ve seen renderings). While fixed lines can pack more people in, more efficient use of the road infrastructure can provide better service and create point-to-point, on demand mobility.

    I don’t subscribe to the Reaganomic, trickle-down theory of downward pressure on the entire market from luxury housing. With vacancy rates of up to 20% in a county with much lower overall vacancy rates, unregulated development doesn’t work. In fact, development along transit lines has led to gentrification and displacement:


    A new transportation paradigm would allow for planning which isn’t forced to densify around fixed rail stations, but would create flexibility to allow various areas within the region to develop organically with the ultimate goal of livability in mind.

  • John Mirisch

    AOD, especially in connection with AV’s as first/last mile solutions would work particularly well in a region with the relative sprawl of LA County with areas of density interspersed. Future AV development will not simply be cars as we know them now, just without drivers. It will be a whole new ballgame. The focus will be on more efficiency: the vehicles themselves, moving away from the single-occupant model (through AV’s as a form of public transportation) and through better use of infrastructure.

    The Robin Chase article discusses the potential of AV’s to allow people to get to jobs (i.e. the prerequisite for more social and economic justice) with much shorter commute times. This will offer people more choices in where they can live and would not limit development to fixed transit lines.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    What’s most important to transit users is speed and convenience. Driving is the obvious competitor to the Expo Line. The fact that the Expo Line has been packed with customers since the opening of Phase II is a strong indication of potential growth in ridership as more train cars are added and the headway’s are reduced. Having a fixed route is not hampering its ability to attract customers. I was told by a manager of Metro that they expected to reach the 62,000 boarding’s a day, that is on the EIR for 2030, within a few months after the opening of Phase II.

    Its difficult to keep to a schedule on the Expo Line when there are more customers than there is space on the trains. Dwell times at each station increases significantly when it takes more time to get people on and off the trains due to crowding. That problem will be reduced as more train cars are added and the trains run more frequently.

    The status quo for transportation in most parts of LA is driving, not rail.

    There is much less capacity to move people in cars on a street or freeway mixed use motor vehicle lane than there is for one direction on the Expo Line. That’s due to the geometry of being able to fit more people into the space of a train and its platforms compared to the required parking space for cars and the much greater need of space to seat each person in a car compared to those standing in a train. That geometry is not going to change enough to make automated cars a more efficient use of space in a large city compared to buses or trains.

    Trying to squeeze more cars onto a fixed amount of road space is not going to be the panacea to moving people in the city of LA. Creating more choices for mobility by building rail lines and bikeways will also have the capacity to move more people in a given amount of space compared to cars.

    People’s preferences do not stay the same over time. Car travel displaced travel by train when low cost cars and spacious roads came along. Roads in large cities are now clogged with cars. That makes commuting by train more attractive.

    The limitation on the volume of people that can be moved by train in a given amount of space in a large city is much less than it is by car.

    Newer buildings tend to be more expensive per unit than the buildings they displaced. But that’s not usually a equal one-to-one replacement. There tends to be a greater supply of units built when the older building is replaced. Older buildings which used to command the top prices tend to move down lower on the average of prices. That’s not the trickle down theory of Reaganomics, its the value that customers place on newer buildings. Developers are going to try and maximize profits by charging as much as they can. However, they cannot control prices. If there is a greater supply of housing than there is demand, the prices will not rise at the same rate as previously, stay the same, or drop as it did with the most recent recession. That is supply and demand, not trickle down Reaganomics. When the demand for houses dropped, the prices fell.

    As I stated, adding trains along corridors that didn’t have transportation will increase the capacity to move people. That is something positive in terms of transportation for the LA area. Waiting for the day when some other form of transportation can make a significant difference is not going to improve the situation in the meantime. Elon Musk stated that if all cars manufactured today were electric it would take 20 years to replace ninety percent of the fleet. There are no automated cars in mass production yet and it will take several years for that to start happening. Fantasies about what might happen in terms of new technology is just wishful thinking right now. There are still several flaws in how fully automated cars will operate that needs to be worked out before these can reach mass production.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    What you are describing closely resembles the taxi, Uber/Lyft use in Manhattan, only without a driver. New York City couldn’t exist by depending mainly on that form of transportation. That’s a supplement to the train system in NYC, not a replacement.

    Metro’s light-rail and Purple heavy-rail line will play a much more significant role for transportation within the LA area when the regional connector and first phase of the Purple line extension are completed. Only two rail projects have been completed under Measure R. Those have only been operation for less than a handful of months.

    Increasing the capacity to move a greater amount of people along a corridor by the installation of a rail transit line enables the building of higher population density. Waiting for the transportation fairy to supply fully automated motor vehicles is not helping the current situation. A light-rail line can be installed within seven years. What you are talking about could take thirty years to make any significant difference. In the meantime, more transit rail will create a more robust economy for the LA region. What you are advocating is to reduce the mobility choices that we could have in the near future.

  • I’m sorry if you felt like I was personally attacking you. I don’t think I was. I think I was just disagreeing with some of your ideas.

    I agree that endless human population growth is unsustainable from an environmental perspective, but we live in a society where people are free to choose how many children to have. As long as the human population continues to grow, those people need jobs, housing and transportation. I don’t think it’s morally acceptable to deny to others the basic human needs, such as housing, that I enjoy.

    You are arguing for a new paradigm of urban growth without explaining exactly how that paradigm would work. Self-driving cars would probably help people feel more comfortable building structures with less or zero off-street parking, but aside from that, I don’t see self-driving technology altering the fundamental choices we have to make about where to build housing, and at what levels of density. Self-driving cars certainly aren’t a panacea for traffic in dense cities like Los Angeles, since a self-driving car still takes up a lot more space per capita than a pedestrian, a cyclist or a public transit passenger.

    Regarding your claim about vacancy rates for new housing, please cite your source, and how do you account for the fact that profit-maximizing developers keep building lots of new rental housing if vacancy rates are really that high? They could make more money by not building units that will sit empty.

    Regarding supply and demand, suppose the price of gasoline rises to $5 per gallon. By your logic I could say, we shouldn’t produce any more gasoline, because all of the new gasoline that is sold will be expensive and cause gasoline “gentrification” which will further increase the price of gasoline. Of course, that goes against basic tenets of microeconomics. Shortages cause prices to rise. Adding to the supply of a product introduces competition into the marketplace. People have more choices about what to buy and buyers have more power to get better prices. That’s why OPEC likes to cut production to get the highest possible price for the oil they sell. Likewise, existing property owners have a perverse incentive to block new housing from being built to maximize the value of their land: that way they own something that is in short supply.

    The only time I buy the “housing causes gentrification” argument is when existing relatively affordable housing is demolished/converted to build new luxury housing (although even that in the long run is probably positive for affordability if the number of units increases). However, much of the time, infill housing isn’t demolishing existing housing. Instead it is going up on underutilized parking lots and commercial sites (and then adding parking and commercial space).

    By the way, I’m totally in favor of spending public money to subsidize housing for low-income folks, but nobody ever wants to pay for that, and you often get strong NIMBY push-back whenever you try to cite it somewhere.

    Not in my back yard sentiment, and a lack of political will to fund affordable housing are at the root of our housing affordability crisis. When you block housing, you contribute to our housing shortage and harm the most vulnerable people in our society. Saying “it’s just luxury housing” is a cop out, because it ignores the beneficial effect of new supply. At the root, we’re talking about people trying to hold on to a suburban way of life in the second-largest metro area in the United States. Whether that makes sense is the real debate we should be having.

  • Jason

    ctrl-f “nazi”; nothing

    ctrl-f “hitler”; nothing

    Apparently, Mayor Mirisch, you have no idea what Godwin’s law is.

  • wqjackson

    I was surprised not to see the South Bay extension of the Green Line in line for quick funding since Metro is seeking votes from disgruntled voters who feel that they don’t get anything in return from their tax dollars. It seems to me that Metro would want to please the voters of the South Bay to gain more support for the tax increase.

  • El barto

    I tweeted the the Fight Soul Cities and in return, I was called a Trump supporter and blocked. What a joke of a group.

  • Captain Obvious

    The Bus Riders union are a bunch of auto industry puppets. Touting “No cars” while screaming only for buses is truly a smoke screen hiding a red herring. Buses use car infrastructure. The BRU, by demanding bus only is actually demanding a Los Angeles only be built for car transport.

  • neroden

    So the usual suspects arin opposition. Beverly Hills elitists; the BRU which hates good public transport and wants to keep it bad, and those who have been bamboozled by the BRU; the right-wing-lunatics at Howard Jarvis; road-obessed southeastern suburbs; and, sadly, the Crenshaw Subway Coalition.

    This last group is reminiscent of the insane supporters of “subways subways subways” in Toronto, who have prevented the construction of a large mass transit system because they insist on hiding all trains underground. It’s a pity you’ve got some of them in LA. They are simply misguided.

    It’s insulting and ridiculous for them to spew about “endangering the safety of children”. CARS endanger the safety of children, due to the number of reckless irresponsible drivers who swerve out of where they’re supposed to be, speed through crosswalks, etc. By contrast, I can’t recall the last time a child was hit by a light rail train; it basically does not happen. Kids aren’t stupid, they don’t run in front of trains.

  • neroden

    “Organic urban growth” — we had it in the 19th century. What did we get? Railways. Unpaved roads.

    Most particularly, we had NO ZONING, and the city form which you get as a result is well known. If LA repealed zoning codes, some very interesting urban development would happen. We’d end up with a lot more rail lines, trust me.

  • neroden

    I guess I’m not really surprised, but it’s sad to see that Beverly Hills elects people as confused as the stereotypes would suggest.

    It’s obvious that your promotion of autonomous cars is just a stalking horse to try to prevent development of train service, and prevent housing. If you really supported organic growth, you’d repeal the zoning code in Beverly Hills entirely. Will you?

    Didn’t think so. So you don’t support organic growth. Why are you talking about it?

  • neroden

    So “AOD is a model for suburbs, not urban areas”.

    Everything in the LA Basin and the San Fernando Valley is an urban area. Everywhere voting on Measure M, with very few exceptions, is an urban area.

    So you don’t have a model for urban areas? Why are you even talking? You just said that AOD was irrelevant.

    P.S. Beverly Hills is an urban area.

  • neroden

    Well, hey, John, I’d love it if localities in California could pass an income tax, *BUT THEY CAN’T*. Their options are sales tax and property tax. Even the state doesn’t seem to be able to raise the income tax, thanks to the Howard Jarvis types.

    Actually given your support for the poor, I assume you would support Measure M if it were backed by big increases in property tax? Those would hit Beverly Hills more than anywhere else. So you’re supporting that, right?

  • neroden

    Part of the rigged system is stupid little gerrymandered cities designed to exclude the poor. Like the one you’re mayor of. In a non-rigged system, Beverly Hills would be part of LA, you know. Don’t get me started on Commerce and Industry, which were quite blatant about their tax-manipulation schemes to exclude residents and attract manufacturers.

  • neroden

    If you support a fully integrated system of region-wide transportation…. have you talked to your own school district and gotten them to stop fighting the subway yet? Everyone *outside* Beverly Hills agrees that it’s the key to a fully integrated system of region-wide transportation.

    Also, it’s 100% clear that a Sepulveda Pass rail tunnel will be the optimal solution for that area 30 years from now, 50 years from now, and forever. There are no magic pony solutions coming. People want to get from one side of the pass to the other, and the way to transport large numbers of people across the pass is a rail tunnel. Nothing else has the capacity. Period.

  • neroden

    For the record, you do oppose the Purple Line. Your city has opposed every reasonable routing of the Purple Line.

  • neroden

    Your little elitist enclave does not have the right to dictate regional or state policy, no matter how arrogant or rich you are.

  • John Mirisch

    For the record, we support the most reasonable, cost-effective routing, which was LACMTA’s original route down the public right-of-way on Santa Monica Blvd.

  • John Mirisch

    I agree, at least, that we should be doing more to add bike lanes and encourage pedestrianism.

    However, planning for technologies which are much more than “fairy tales” or “fantasies” is simply good urban planning, which is why the FTA itself is talking about it. This is especially true when one looks at the plans for Measure M which do not plan to start construction on some of the fixed-rail lines for decades. And for all the talk about geometry (and I agree an area as vast as LA County needs fixed trunk rail lines for the foreseeable future), one still needs to solve the first/last mile problem. No solutions are forthcoming from LACMTA aside from telling riders “to take Uber.”

    Again, you are looking at the current transit options during rush hour, which in some cases may be the lesser of two evils. We need to try to do better than that, rather than aim low (and perhaps miss).

    Clearly, we disagree on the pace of disruption that new transportation technologies will create. And yet the regulators (whom one would think would be most resistant to change) like Administrator Rosekind from NHTSA and Secretary Foxx are embracing these new technologies. Columbus won the Smart City grant in part because it has incorporated these new technologies into its plans.

    By the way, your description of how luxury housing supposedly leads to more affordable housing is the very definition of the Reaganomic, trickle-down theory: as luxury condos age, they become less attractive, thereby becoming more affordable. It could take decades for this to have any impact, even in theory, and in the meantime luxury condo vacancies do nothing to ease the housing shortage, but the displacement and gentrification is very real. To my way of thinking, this is not good urban planning and tries to combine concepts which aren’t readily compatible, namely, free-wheeling, free-market economics, and planned zoning which aims at creating livable cities. When “developer profits” are the core motivator, as suggested above, the result will not be a livable city.

  • John Mirisch

    We’d end up with a lot more than rail lines if LA had no zoning. Interesting? Maybe. Livable? Hardly. If that is your ideal, I’d suggest you move to Houston or maybe Mumbai.

  • John Mirisch

    It’s an attempt to exclude ad hominem attacks from rational and reasonable discussion. And, yes, there are many corollaries.

    I’ll make it simple for you: If you engage in an ad hominem attack, you lose.

  • calwatch

    Lawndale is opposed to the Green Line extension unless it’s underground. The corridor is currently a green way with a freight rail line that operates at low speeds intermittently. Construction of light rail would, by necessity, sever several at-grade crossings and require the right of way to be fenced completely.

  • John Mirisch

    Ad hominem attacks aside, yes, of course, we will consider amending the codes. The discussion regarding the disruption of AV’s — including AV’s within public transportation — encompasses all sorts of planning issues, including parking requirements. We need to start addressing those issues ASAP, and I have openly discussed this at various panels and keynotes I have given on the subject.

  • calwatch

    Beverly Hills existed long before Commerce and Industry did. They incorporated because they were an independent settlement that had their own source of water. The residents of Sherman (today’s West Hollywood), who also take Beverly Hills water, chose to remain unincorporated to avoid higher taxes and more regulation, until they incorporated in the 1980’s. It is unfair to lump in Beverly Hills with the post-Lakewood Plan cities created after 1954.

  • calwatch

    I also supported this route, but the seismologists and the geologists made their objections known. Beverly Hills hired their own experts to try to counteract Metro’s consultants, but failed to show that Santa Monica Boulevard was safer than Constellation. From a ridership standpoint, if the Purple Line had a destination point beyond the VA Hospital (like Santa Monica or perhaps up the 405 corridor to the Valley) the swivel cost more ridership than it gained, but if the Purple Line is terminating at the VA Hospital the added ridership is significant.

  • calwatch

    That’s not Godwin’s law though, which has a specific meaning. It’s just a use of ad hominem.

  • John Mirisch

    In all of these discussions, we need to address the endgame of sustainability. You don’t believe me, fine, but check out last week’s UCLA study about gentrification/displacement. It’s happening, and it’s happening now:


    Undoubtedly, AV technology is not a panacea, but it should be incorporated into any forward-thinking system of regional mobility (including as a great solution to first/last mile challenges) and will help inform how we go about urban planning going forward.

    Part of the problem we suffer from in the US is short-term thinking and not considering the consequences of our actions. We need to think a step beyond and we need to answer the question “What then?” after we engage in your proposed solutions. No spiral of growth can continue unabated. So what then?

    I think we need to start asking and addressing those questions now, rather than later. In my mind, allowing more luxury housing with fewer environmental restrictions is just not the answer.

  • neroden

    “I don’t oppose spending taxpayer dollars on mobility. I do oppose
    spending it on plans whose primary goals are sucking up and spending
    money in the name of mobility.”

    So you oppose the bullcrap spending on super-expensive parking garages by the Beverly Hills School District? Good to know.

    What, that wasn’t what you meant?

  • John Mirisch

    As mentioned before, the new model would not be just to replace all existing vehicles with self-driving ones (though that would reduce accidents and create more efficiency). It’s to include the technology as part of a larger system. The technology is particularly well suited to first/last mile solutions and even Manhattan would benefit (though because of its density and extensive network, the issues are very different than in the sprawling LA region).

    Light-rail lines can in theory be installed in 7 years, yet that is not reflective of the time frames discussed in Measure M. If we could snap our fingers and make everything a reality at once, it might be a different story, but we are talking about investments over the next several decades.

    Advocating for efficient use of limited tax dollars and incorporating new methods of mobility is, quite frankly, to advocate for more, not fewer mobility choices.

  • neroden

    It is not reasonable to disregard geologists and seismologists.

  • neroden

    Good, I was just confirming that you oppose organic growth. So stop talking about it.

  • neroden

    Their loss. If a community wants to vote to keep itself poor, I can’t really argue with them.

  • John Mirisch

    The state has increased income taxes, as well as many other taxes. The overall tax burden in California is already among the highest in the nation. Let’s focus on getting some value for that money. But, yes, I would support increased taxes on developer profits and recurring fees which would go directly to affordable housing.

  • John Mirisch

    Organic in the planning sense does not mean “anything goes” development. I’m talking about it in the sense of respecting local control, and letting individual communities decide for themselves what kind of development they want. AV’s will allow better access to all of these areas, which will not be as dependent on fixed rail mobility.

  • John Mirisch

    As mentioned, there are many corollaries to Godwin’s law. More importantly, he intent of Godwin’s law is to limit ad hominem attacks in on-line conversations. Godwin took Hitler/Nazis as the most extreme example of such ad hominem attacks.

    As the Jargon Dictionary says:

    “The point of the law is that the more protracted and bitter the argument, the more likely it is that someone will resort to name-calling or some other form of ad hominem attack.”

    Reductio ad Hitlerum is really just a form of reductio ad hominem.

  • John Mirisch

    A Sepulveda Pass rail tunel “will be the optimal solution for that area… forever”?

    Interesting theory and strong words, which not only anticipate future technological advances, but which also seem to rule out the possibility that there even could ever be any future technological advances. I know a few engineers, who would disagree with you on that…

    And, again: nobody is fighting the subway: it is a matter of the route, the process and local control.

  • John Mirisch

    The area continues to change. A major project which was going to be office (corner of Constellation and Avenue of the Stars) now looks like it will be residential. More redevelopment will likely occur on SM Blvd. itself. And you can bet your bottom dollar that LACMTA will at some point plan on extending the Purple Line. After all, it continues to be known as the “subway to the sea.”

    Beverly Hills has offered to share in the cost of trenching on SM Blvd, which is the gold standard to ascertain reliable seismic information. LACMTA was and is not interested. That should tell you something.

  • John Mirisch

    As a scientist, it is not reasonable to refuse to pursue the highest level of scientific rigor. We have offered to help pay for trenching on SM Blvd to establish once and for all if there are dangerous faults which would preclude a subway line. The fact that LACMTA wasn’t and isn’t interested should tell you all you need to know…

    (Incidentally, there are other routes which were discussed and reasonable, and which LACMTA rejected).

  • calwatch

    The adoption of autonomous vehicles will be much, much slower in the United States than advocates expect, due to liability and equity concerns. Note that the average age of a vehicle continues to increase every year as cars get more reliable and new cars get more expensive. Currently it is 11.5 years. I think they will probably be implemented first in China or elsewhere in Asia.

  • calwatch

    The other option would be politically unsustainable but make good use of the capacity available – congestion pricing of two or more lanes, including raising the carpool limit to three and building Direct Access Ramps between the carpool lane and surface streets.

  • Slexie

    Thank you so much for saying that! It’s difficult to make people understand that even if the luxury towers of today become middle class housing in the future, that is absolutely decades away. I also agree with you that letting developers make up their own zoning is a terrible idea. Even with zoning restrictions, developers have done what they wanted, and those living near a developers bad decision are paying the price. And what do they care? They don’t live in the neighborhoods they develop and have no stake in making a street or a neighborhood pleasant or livable.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The main reason why the LACMTA does not get on their horse and ride off in all directions at once in terms of constructing major transit lines is that there is not enough money to build all of those transit lines all at once. In other words there is not enough money to pay for more horses. If people are going to vote no because they feel a transit project is going to take too long in their area, then they could end up with a whole lot of nothing if Measure M does not pass. A transit line in their area that may not be built “forever” into the future.

    Getting people to walk and bicycle in a greater amount to and from major transit stations would be a way to improve the first and last mile portion of the trip for people using transit. To do that there needs to be separation of bicycling from motorized vehicles to get a significant increase in the rate of bicycling. There also has to be improvements to sidewalk areas to make it more encouraging to walk to and from a transit station.

    However, LACMTA does not own the streets and sidewalks in any of the eighty-eight cities and unincorporated areas of the county. The LACMTA has been recently holding public meetings to teach municipalities what the potential is for active transportation and also to help them write a plan and apply for grant money. The LACMTA also started funding bicycle sharing systems to work on first and last mile connections to their major transit stations.

    Trickle down Reaganomics is cutting taxes on the wealthy to create jobs and stimulate the economy. That has been shown to not work. Creating a greater supply of housing to meet the demand does have the potential to reduce increases in housing prices. Lack of enough housing enables property owners and developers to increase prices to the highest bidder. Are you trying to infer that if 100,000 additional housing units were built in the city of Los Angeles in 2016 that the average price of housing would rise sharply? That amount of additional housing units in one year would eliminate the shortage of housing units. Which would reduce or eliminate the upward average price of housing units. That’s not trickle down Reaganomics, that’s supply and demand–which is a proven economics principle.

    The reason that the Los Angeles area has the second highest level of disparity between prices of housing to average income compared to any other city in this country is mainly due to a lack of enough housing units to meet the demand.

  • Sine Metu

    Bigotry? I guess I’m an anti-car bigot so I will concede that! Lol.

    I have to admit, your tenacity and resolve are impressive. Kudos to you for engaging with transpo honks and bike weirdos like myself. You’ve brought up some things that I agree with in fact.

    To be fair, I have only caught BHPD twice over the last decade but twice is too many. By way of comparison, I have caught Sheriffs and LAPD more but there are more of them out there endangering our lives so it’s a wash maybe.

    I’m not confident you will be able to achieve what so many have failed at – bike lanes on SM Blvd. If it was up to you, I actually do believe we would see them but since it’s not we won’t hold our breath (we’ve been fooled before – ask Mark Elliot). Your last mayor referred to us as ‘organ donors’ which still makes me seethe every time I think about it.

    I agree that AV technology will be helpful and I look forward to the improved safety of riding with them since citizens, LEOs, sitting judges etc. cannot be trusted to put down their *&^%$$^& phones.

  • DannyB

    the Crenshaw Subway Coalition is Damien Goodmon, the one who said that LRT was a way to genocide Black kids; he took Cheviot money to pursue nuisance suits to delay Expo for three years, and now everyone’s complaining that they didn’t open it sooner
    he’s trying to do the same with the LAX/Crenshaw line but the local aren’t convinced (there the worries are more about gentrification)

  • wqjackson

    Norwalk demanded the same from Metro when the Green line was being built back in the day. Metro told Norwalk its either street level or nothing. the issue was the cost. Maybe Lawndale needs to consider taxing its residents for the underground line..

  • Scott

    20 reasons to Vote NO on Measure M (Metro’s forever sales tax to fund primarily rail infrastructure expansion)

    My name is Walter Siembab and I work professionally in the area of sustainable transportation. I’ve been a resident of LA County for decades, I love train travel, and I’m a long time member of the Sierra Club. I believe passage of Measure M will accelerate the decline of quality of life in LA County and is simply not “good government.”.

    Here are 20 reasons for voting NO. Some are a little more technical than what have been previously included in the public discussion. But that’s the problem I hope to address. Voters have been deprived of the information needed to make an informed decision. The press carries a big portion of the blame.

    You may not agree with all of them but any one is a reason for voting NO on M.

    County residents know that traffic congestion has been worsening for years. M claims to ease congestion and that claim will attract a number of voters desperate for relief. It’s even been titled the “LA County Traffic Improvement Plan.” Problem is M will actually make congestion worse, not better. Many voters aren’t aware that any significant transportation investment will lead to adjacent land developments of some kind. In the case of rail, those will be, dense, large scale residential and “mixed–use” developments. For example, see the November 2 LA Times article (Santa Monica Measure Targets Growth) — “Measure LV comes as Santa Monica sees a boom in new projects, with developers seeking to take advantage of the new Expo Line….” The promise is that high density will have little impact on streets because the rail system will carry the traffic. This is false. Numbers tell a different story. The percentage of household trips that are carried by rail is low, currently averaging around 3% throughout the system. Being very generous, assume that in the future 20% of all trips generated by for example a 300 unit building adjacent to a station will be carried by some form of public transit. However that means that 80% of those trips will be driven. Rail investment will lead to increased density which will lead to more congestion, not less. Developers have been using promises of increased transit use to justify their projects for years. The result is most evident in the traffic congestion experienced daily. Vote NO.

    A related point, Metro has been telling us that a leading transportation planning firm has pegged reduced travel delays due to congestion at 15%. There are 5 problems with that projection. First is that the projected congestion benefit won’t be realized until 2045, 30 years from now. Then it’s only 15%, relatively insignificant (for example it would cut a 60 minute commute to 51 minutes). Third, it ignores population growth and the spread of the peak period to virtually an all-day phenomenon. Fourth, it doesn’t account for the increased congestion that will delay transit service as freeway congestion spreads to parallel arterials. For example, the transit rich Westside currently experiences gridlock on its new rail line, its freeways and streets. Fifth, it’s a computer projection and couldn’t possibly be accurate given all the assumptions that would need to be met. Vote NO.

    We are on the cusp of experiencing a quantum leap in transportation innovation. There is a good chance that scheduled fixed route public transit is already an obsolete service, or surely will be within a few years. Recent private sector innovations in the form of car sharing (Zipcar, car2go) and ride hailing (Uber, Lyft) are only the leading edge of new services that are on the way. Then there are self-driving (robot) cars that will offer very low cost on-demand door to door service. 2016 is a very poor time to raise taxes to support a large scale investment in a system that is well on its way to becoming obsolete. Notice that cable TV industry with its fixed schedule of limited programs is quickly becoming obsolete due to competition from the new streaming access to vast catalogues of programs on-demand anytime, anywhere. Transportation consumers likewise want on-demand door to door service to a vast array of destinations. Anyway, if M fails to pass, Metro can come back in 4 years and try it again. Four years will give us a chance to see what can be accomplished with real innovation. Vote NO

    The argument for M states that the funds will build a 21st Century transportation network. Explain how a 19th Century rail technology can address 21st Century transportation needs. Metro produces no innovation itself and real innovators are in the process of greatly reducing Metro’s significance. Vote NO

    Need for mobility in most areas of LA County is for short trips, fewer than 5 miles, less than 3 in many cases. Only a small percentage of trips occur across the region, yet Metro’s investment plan dedicates 66% of it M revenue to transit and only 17% to highways and 17% to street maintenance. The service promised by Metro can carry some of those longer trips, usually associated with the journey to work. But there are many cheaper, faster deploying alternatives to address those work trips – from UberPool to telecommuting. Would it be more cost-effective to give the transit dependent riders vouchers for using Uber-Lyft-taxis? It the rail system is not cost effective, provides a tiny share of mobility in L. A. County, and is obsolete, we don’t need to spend hundreds of billions of dollars for those relatively few long trips, so why should we? Vote NO.

    Advocates say “don’t worry about demand, build it and they will come.” But they haven’t been coming. Despite billions of dollars invested in rail service, transit ridership has actually decreased over the last 20 years and it is decreasing nationwide. Metro’s expansive rail program will not significantly change that trend. Vote NO.

    What if they did come? Rail capacity will always be low compared to the parallel corridor capacity and so it physically will be unable to reduce congestion. The new Expo line is currently carrying 45,000 weekday trips with trains every six minutes. Its theoretical capacity cannot be higher than 65,000 to 75,000 trips because of track congestion and limited platform size which limits the number of cars possible per train. By comparison the dreaded Santa Monica Freeway carries approximately 360,000 daily trips. Rail expansion will not provide significant relief to freeway congestion, it isn’t physically possible to do so. This reality was recently confirmed by researchers at USC concluding that the Expo Line has had zero impact on I-10 congestion. Vote NO

    Follow the money. M is well financed by the interests that will financially benefit if it passes. The LA times identified developers, construction companies, organized construction labor and engineering firms – I’ll add east coast bond firms. For the campaign funders, the money spent is a business development investment, not a public benefit contribution. There are no potential financial gains to those who oppose M, consequently the no side has minimal funding and a relatively muted voice. Vote NO

    If public transit has a role over the next 40 years, it will depend on how “rapid” the service will run. Speed requires either under-ground or aerial construction. Running at street grade or on streets simply slows cars and trains alike to a crawl. M plans very little rapid service. Last year a friend took the Expo Line from Culver City to the Blue Line in order to visit Long Beach and it took him 2 hours each way. Vote NO.

    Metro needs a cash infusion in order to meet its current commitments because of cost over runs and under budgeted operations and maintenance expenses. Because of that, Metro is ill-advised to take on massive new commitments. Metro needs to get its house in order and then determine what expansion it can afford to build, operate and maintain in the future. We cannot trust that the projects promised by this measure will be implemented – especially since we are not seeing the previous Measure R commitments fulfilled as promised (Measure R is the most recent Metro sales tax passed in 2008). Vote NO

    There will be no public oversight of this multi-billion dollar investment, other than the self-interested Metro Board and its self-appointed advisory board. One of the most troubling elements of the Ordinance is the fact that the Metro Board can unilaterally change the Expenditure Plan every 10 years after merely consulting with an advisory committee that the Board appoints. There is no provision in the ordinance that requires approval by voters to these decennial changes in priority. The struggle to revise priorities will be politics at its worst. Vote NO

    Financial projections are based on a fare box recovery (the share of operating costs paid by riders). Fare box recovery is currently at only 26%. Yet Metro’s “yes” campaign is promising to keep fares low while it assumes a fare box recovery of 33% in its Long Range Transportation Plan. Clearly this will result in a shortfall. So fares will need to rise by 25% or service will have to be reduced, or another tax will be needed down the road to pay for the operations and maintenance of this expanded system. Vote NO

    Measure M removes the 2039 sunset date for Measure R that voters approved in 2008 and adds a fourth permanent half cent sales tax for transportation on top of Proposition A (1980), C (1990) and Measure R (2008). In other words, Metro is currently receiving 1.5% of every retail dollar you spend and wants to increase that to 2% — forever. Paying taxes is ok so long as the investment promises a reasonable payoff. Vote NO.

    Measure M is already 100% bonded for the first 40 years to meet the stated obligations. Bonding to accelerate projects allows repayment of debt to be deferred into later decades of the plan which would add significantly to the cost of projects and consume a significant share of future sales tax revenues thus endangering Plan revenues for projects scheduled after 2040. By scheduling politically favored pet projects at the beginning of the Measure M expenditure plan, Metro has increased the cost and prevented acceleration of existing Measure R commitments. Vote NO

    There is a segment of voters who will vote yes on M so that others will have transit options that will get them off the road. In order to justify a yes vote, you or someone in your family should be planning on taking some form of transit 4 or 5 times a week – every week for the next 40 years. And, due to densification and population growth, you should not expect to experience any significant improvement in travel times or roadway condition for your yes vote. Vote NO

    Metro’s Expenditure Plan for Measure M has a $19 billion shortfall and Metro’s response is vague, misleading, and unreliable. Even with revenue from three previous L. A. County transportation sales taxes (Propositions A and C and Measure R), there is a shortfall in the Measure M Expenditure Plan of approximately 16% of the estimated $120 billion program over the first 40 years of the forever taxes. Metro says that it will bring private sector funding to build projects faster but that funding needs to be paid off in future years – it is a loan not a grant. Additionally, using this as a strategy means that the private sector will is prioritize the public investment, instead of building projects according to need. Vote NO.

    The nostalgic idea of rebuilding the vast Pacific Electric system that was so valuable from 1900 to 1930 is just that, nostalgic. That rail system was powered by private developers and transportation operators to grow Southern California outside the urban core of Los Angeles. Over the last 100 years in LA County, the development pattern, technology, travel needs, and cultural expectations have all changed. LA County needs whole new transportation concepts for the 21st Century. With the emerging shared mobility, automated transportation technology and communications revolution, attractive alternatives to rail transit are available. Vote NO.

    Throughout the United States, transit systems are falling apart due to lack of regular maintenance – D.C., Boston, BART. Metro originally was going to dedicate 5% to maintenance which is already low taking into account that some of the lines (Blue, Green and Red) are over 25 years old. Instead, they dedicated only 2% to maintenance. This is not enough and Metro knows it but isn’t telling the voters. Vote NO.

    Metro assures voters that it is seeking “Federal, local, state, and other Funding” to “enable all Major Projects to be delivered expeditiously.” But there are no future state and federal transportation funds available to leverage using local sales taxes. New federal and state transportation taxes would be needed to match Measure M, so the Metro board will have to successfully advocate for increased state and federal taxes that you will pay. Vote NO

    Metro experiences cost overruns on literally all of its projects. That results in increasing budgets beyond their original contingency reserves and extending schedules on projects that are in final design or construction. The Metro Board recently rejected a motion by Directors representing the South Bay and Gateway Cities to complete Measure R projects before initiating new projects. Then it promised to accelerate other projects using creative financing of loans which will need to repaid 40 years from now when Metro’s 3rd decade promises will not be kept. Vote NO

    Don’t be railroaded into the future. Vote NO on M and send Metro the message that you want innovation, not nostalgia, cost mismanagement or backroom politics.

    Walter Siembab




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