Villaraigosa's transit proposal getting cautious reactions

Really a mixed bag. L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich is not thrilled about making the half-cent sales tax a permanent deal, and a Daily News editorial questions the need to adjust a measure that doesn't expire until 2039 ("No one should rush to judgment about what the Angelenos of the future will need or want to fund," the paper wrote). The LAT is in wait-and-see mode.

There's no doubt that this accelerated schedule would be good for Villaraigosa's legacy; what's unclear is whether it would be good for Los Angeles. Subways and light-rail lines are a modern city's economic arteries, and the sooner we build them, the better. And it's true that they have long lifespans and would benefit future generations. But by bonding now against revenue that won't materialize for more than 25 years, we would in effect be billing our kids (or grandkids) for today's projects and setting transportation priorities now for a city that may look very different in half a century. That's a trade-off that has to be carefully considered as Villaraigosa's proposal is fleshed out in the coming months.

In the San Gabriel Valley, where local officials opposed the original Measure R because of concerns that the funding would be focused on Westside projects, the view was a bit more positive - mostly because the money is being used on several Eastside projects. From the San Gabriel Valley Tribune:

Keith Hanks, a member of the Gold Line Construction Authority and an Azusa City Council member, said in order for voters in the San Gabriel Valley to approve the extension, Villaraigosa, as chairman of the Metro board, would have to include San Gabriel Valley projects. For instance, he cites the lack of funding for phase 2B of the Gold Line from Azusa to Claremont as a good project. The Gold Line board is waiting on Congress to fund the second half of the foothill light-rail extension, but the federal transportation funding bill has been stalled and may never pass.

Press materials that were sent out in advance of the mayor's State of the City address included endorsements from several local leaders. "In the absence of a federal transportation bill that provides that well-deserved support, the voters of L.A. should support this new approach," said Russell Goldsmith, chief executive of City National Bank and chairman of the Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy and Jobs.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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