Two city of Los Angeles officials — the Chief Administrative Officer and the Chief Legislative Analyst — recommend asking voters in November to raise the sales tax by a half-cent to pay for the repair of streets and sidewalks. The City Council will have to decide by July whether to put the tax hike to voters. If so, two-thirds of voters in November would be needed to increase the city’s sales tax, which is currently nine percent.
The office of Mayor Eric Garcetti told the Times that the mayor had not decided whether to support the tax or note. “Mayor Garcetti is committed to improving L.A.’s infrastructure and will continue assessing a range of options to determine the best way forward,” [a spokesman] said in an email. Garcetti, of course, also serves on the Metro Board of Directors and will chair the Board beginning July 1.
The issue has possible implications for Metro, where staff continue to explore the possibility of going to county voters in 2016 to ask them to either extend the Measure R sales tax increase beyond 2039 or possibly ask for a new tax to fund new projects. Voters in L.A. were among the largest supporters of Measure R. How would they respond to the possibility of sales tax issues appearing on their ballots in both ’14 and ’16? Stay tuned!
The opinion piece by Metro CEO Art Leahy explains the need for the fare increase proposal by Metro staff. Excerpt:
In two years, Metro faces a $37 million operating deficit that will balloon to $225 million in 10 years. We’re squeezing every penny we can from local sales taxes and tapping dwindling operating assistance from state and federal coffers to make up the balance between what our riders pay and the cost of delivering service.
We cut overhead, eliminated non-contract jobs, beefed up efforts to curb fare evasion, and boosted productivity — but it doesn’t pencil out. And, no, we can’t legally siphon monies from voter approved Measure R street and highway projects or stop the rail program.
Without additional revenue, the momentum in delivering new transit and weaning solo drivers from behind the wheel will come to a screeching halt. Bus service would be cut and we couldn’t open new rail lines under construction.
Fare changes are necessary. Staff has proposed two options to gradually get us to a point in six years where riders would cover one third of our operating costs. Again, it’s not just about raising fares. Staff also is proposing free transfers within a 90 minute period instead of charging double for transfers as is now the case. This will encourage customers to more fully use their investment in the growing transit system.
There is a public hearing on the fare increases at 9:30 a.m., Saturday, March 29 in the board room at Metro headquarters that is adjacent to Union Station. More info on the increase proposals can be found on the fare change page on metro.net.
Anatomy of a near miss (Peninsula Moves, the Caltrain blog)
The video is scary but it’s refreshing to see a government agency post it as a way to potentially save lives. In this case, the man went around a barrier that was down and almost gets hit by an express train on the San Francisco Peninsula.
First toll lanes in Contra Costa County to be installed along 680 freeway (Contra Costa Times)
Twenty three miles of ExpressLanes will be up and running in 2016 in the East Bay. Tolls collected will help pay for an eventual 500 miles of similar lanes throughout the Bay Area. Officials are billing the lanes as a sort of “congestion insurance” for motorists — something they can pay to use when they positively, absolutely have to be somewhere on time.