Sales Tax for Transit Projects Fails to Benefit the Entire Region

Last Thursday, the Metro Board voted 11-2 to place a sales tax measure to pay for transit projects on the November ballot. I voted against it for a number of reasons.

While I absolutely support improving transportation across Los Angeles County, the sequencing of major projects and the funding levels in this ballot measure will fail to make improvements that benefit the entire region.

There are 88 cities in Los Angeles County–not just one–and taxpayers from each city voted in favor of Measure R in 2008 because they were promised projects that would improve mobility and decrease congestion in their communities.  Now, eight years later, many of our cities are still waiting for their major projects and if this ballot measure is approved, they will be waiting even longer.

Multi-modal projects that would benefit our Gateway cities and South Bay cities are being leapfrogged by higher profile projects like the Sepulveda Pass Tunnel and Westside Subway, which are also being given priority access to federal funding. That is simply not geographically equitable, nor is it fair to our residents who will be funding these projects for decades before they truly benefit.

Unlike Measure R which sunsets after 30 years, this new funding measure is a ‘forever tax’ that will be placed on generations to come. I want to ensure that taxpayer money is spent wisely and fairly, and that we are not issuing a blank check.  Promises that we make today won’t even be guaranteed years down the line because all it will take is a two-thirds vote by a future Metro Board to change the funding and delivery of projects.

It is easy to support this measure and congratulate ourselves on building the transit future of our region; the fact is that it doesn’t–not in a fair and equitable way. Our residents across Los Angeles County deserve better.