- Written by Ken Alpern
17 Aug 2012
GETTING THERE FROM HERE - Anger continues to rise throughout our city, county, state and nation over the need to expand and fix our roads, infrastructure, passenger and freight rail system, and our environment—all while questioning the legitimacy of how well and how much we’re spending to achieve that big expansion and big fix.
That anger and questioning is spot-on, but what must not be forgotten is whether our immediate focus should be on what can be fought successfully in the year 2012.
It is not only those identifying themselves with the Tea Party who are infuriated at the amount of spending and the amount of borrowing we’re doing from future generations, so the obligation to tax ourselves versus the opportunity to borrow from the future must both be considered. Therefore, the question of whether we should be able to borrow from future sales tax revenues (Measure J) has to be balanced with the following question:
Are we in a position to immediately raise sales taxes another half-cent to ensure funding and construction of Measure R projects within the next ten years?
Some argue that Measure R should have been a full penny sales tax, because Measure R only guaranteed that its projects would be built over 20-30 years—but that argument (while worthy of consideration) is moot because:
1) We can’t go back in time, and we must focus on our present and future with respect to an action plan.
2) After fighting like hell to get matching federal funds and loans for the past 2-3 years, Mayor Villaraigosa and Metro and the entire Southern California delegation have gotten only pittances from Washington after L.A. County showed its political courage by passing Measure. It’s therefore time for Plan B.
Plan B…as in Measure J.
Measure J … as in borrowing from future tax revenues without raising more taxes, and as in building decades-overdue Measure R projects now.
Measure J … as in knowing that every penny we get from Washington and Sacramento will ensure that we’ll be able to build projects, and fix our infrastructure, beyond what Measure R prioritizes and guarantees.
Measure J … as in holding our electeds’ feet to the fire to minimize what future generations will have to pay for projects being built today, and to maximize what new projects and fixes can be achieved for these same future generations.
So enter the City of Los Angeles, which for decades has never lost an opportunity to fiscally and legally punish its residents—particularly its homeowners. For several decades, all sorts of excuses and rationales keep being conveniently provided to raises property taxes, to raise utility fees, and to demand homeowners give up their curbside parking for others who do not pay these taxes and fees.
The latest two kicks in the groin from our beloved leaders at the City of the Angels are:
1) The City threatening to renege on its promise to maintain its sidewalks (while preventing homeowners from cost-effectively paying for the sidewalks themselves), and worsening its tree-trimming delays (while preventing homeowners from cost-effectively paying for tree planting and repair despite the legal risks this lack of repair places on homeowners).
2) The City offering a sweetheart deal to developers, landlords and businesses to weasel out of their obligations to pay for parking for their residents and customers. (Link)
That last one is particularly difficult to swallow, because for those landlords, developers and businesses that don’t have adjacent property to physically locate parking, the opportunity to require ongoing funds to build and maintain local parking structures as an alternative is both fair and flexible … and very much needed.
And while communities of homeowners are screaming louder and louder for Preferred Parking Districts, because these beleaguered homeowners know that renters and customers are being forced to park in front of the homes they’re busting a mortgage for every month, the demand that these landlords and developers and businesses help pay for their sidewalks, tree repairs, residential streets and parkways is also both fair and flexible.
So while more communities, most recently my neighbors in South Mar Vista consider seceding from the City of LA in favor of other cities that treat their taxpaying residents with more respect, perhaps Wendy Greuel and other politicians and planning groups would do well to distance themselves from Professor Shoup and all the other head-in-the-cloud academics who equate parking with the root of our urban ills.
The CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee has repeatedly opposed free parking, but also repeatedly demanded more parking. It has also come out in favor of the Expo Line and other mass transit projects while demanding more parking. Parking and buses and rail and sidewalks have not, and never will be, mutually exclusive.
Measure J allows us to expedite road repair, sidewalk repair, alleyway repair, and even parking improvements if our City has the political will.
And while our NIMBY neighbors in Pasadena continue to reject a decades-overdue connection of the I-710 freeway to the rest of the freeway system (while hideously victimizing Alhambra and their neighbors to the south), they’ll be pleased to know that Measure J allows for transfer of planned I-710 freeway funds to extend the Foothill Gold Line and the Alameda Corridor East project to enhance passenger and freight movements, respectively.
Should the voters approve Measure J this November, the City of LA can finally start fixing its infrastructure, the City of Pasadena can further delay the I-710 freeway to suffering of its neighbors, and the rest of the San Gabriel Valley can enjoy better passenger and freight rail mobility and movement.
And maybe we can build the Wilshire Subway and MetroRail to LAX within our lifetimes.
Measure J: J as in Jumpstart!
Vol 10 Issue 66
Pub: Aug 17, 2012