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Are Valley Stakeholders Buying Into LA County’s R2 Transit Tax Pitch?

LOS ANGELES

GUEST WORDS--"(T)he Metro plan itself, looks good on paper. It’s missing one critical element though, which is a transit system to California State University, Northridge (CSUN). Of even more concern though, is the lack of legal guarantees in the plan. The plan is built on trust, and unfortunately I do not think Valley residents trust Metro to follow through." -Richard Close

Metro’s sales tax expenditure plan, now commonly referred to as Measure R2, is scheduled to be considered by the entire Metro board June 23rd.  If approved, Metro’s expenditure plan—coupled with an evergreen provision that obviates the need for Metro to ever come back to the voters—would then be on the November ballot. Serious concerns are being raised by reputable Valley leadership that the San Fernando Valley is not receiving a fair share of the proposed funding resulting from passage of new sales tax. As one of the Valley’s most recognized and tenured leaders, what are your thoughts on Metro’s Draft Expenditure Plan?

The people of the San Fernando Valley realize that they have not received a fair share of the money that has been raised through the original Measure R sales tax increase for rapid transit. Of the 88 rail stations in the County, the Valley only has 2. In the prior ballot measure, we were promised a number of light-rail lines, and those never were built. Therefore, Valley residents are very skeptical of the newly proposed Metro plan.

That said, the Metro plan itself, looks good on paper. It’s missing one critical element though, which is a transit system to California State University, Northridge (CSUN).

Of even more concern though, is the lack of legal guarantees in the plan.  The plan is built on trust, and unfortunately I do not think Valley residents trust Metro to follow through.

In the original Measure R, they raised our sales taxes but we received very little. Now, they want to raise the sales tax to 9.5% with “commitments”, not legal requirements.

I want to see the Measure pass. But without legal guarantees, Valley residents will not vote for the measure in November and it will not get the 2/3 vote needed to increase the sales tax. 

As one who has been in the room when reaching consensus is necessary what does Metro need to do to entice the San Fernando Valley voters to support by a super majority Metro’s new Sales Tax Measure R2?

Before the Metro Board vote next Thursday it is necessary to change the plan so that what is promised on paper is legally binding. Secondly, they have to put more programs and funding into the San Fernando Valley because we have not received our fair share for the last twenty years. For example, where are people to park to use the transit lines. In the Valley, we need adequate parking to encourage more use of the system. 

It is time for the Valley to get their fair share of rapid transit projects and take part in the transformation that is occurring in other places in the county.

Who are the Valley stakeholders and whom should Valley residents turn to for guidance on this issue? Who, essentially, is looking out for the Valley?

The transportation leaders for the Valley are Senator Robert Hertzberg, former Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and former Assemblyman Richard Katz. These are the community leaders that are working to protect the Valley.  Without 2/3s Valley support in November, the Metro plan is dead. 

(Richard Close, President of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association, for nearly four decades has been a well-recognized San Fernando Valley (SOHA) civic advocate. This piece was posted originally at the Planning Report.) 

-cw

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