By Dana Bartholomew, October 27, 2015
Oct. 26--VAN NUYS -- Their motto said, "It's our turn: Ahora Nosotros!"
For the San Fernando Valley leaders who turned out for a
Transportation Summit in Van Nuys on Monday hoping to wring more Valley
rail projects out of a proposed 1-cent sales tax for public transit,
they meant it.
"This is a golden opportunity for transportation in the San Fernando
Valley," said Los Angeles Councilman Paul Krekorian, who represents a
traffic-clogged district from North Hollywood to Van Nuys. "The Valley
must be part of a systemized (transit) plan.
"We must now speak as a single voice: The Valley must not be left
out. So it will be imperative for everyone in this room to fight tooth
and nail ... to make every penny that this Valley deserves goes into the
The top priority of the transit summit was to identify the best
railways and bus systems linking residents to jobs and market places
throughout a sprawling region long underserved by local transit
Hosted by state Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and the Valley
Economic Alliance at Valley Presbyterian Hospital, it drew mayors and
city officials from Glendale to Calabasas, as well as neighborhood
council members, transit officials and residents from across the Valley.
At issue were a proposed extension of the Measure R tax, as well as a tandem tax proposal known as Measure R2.
If both half-cent sales taxes make the November 2016 ballot, they
could inject $121 billion for new, people-moving projects across Los
Angeles County for decades.
If approved by voters, a so-called Measure R2 could generate $75
billion for transit fixes over the course of 40 years. A renewal of the
Measure R tax, in addition, could add another $46 billion in transit
Half the combined $121 billion would be distributed to
the region's 88 cities for local transportation needs, including bike
lanes. The other half would be dealt out to nine subregions, including
the Valley, based on a proposed list of rail and transit priorities.
Approval of the 1-cent tax would signal the fourth sales tax since
1980 meant to help ease gridlock on L.A. County's logjammed streets and
freeways. A similar Measure J half-cent sales tax just failed to pass a
required 67 percent majority in 2012.
More than two dozen speakers Monday highlighted transit shortfalls in
a more than 250-square-mile region, with nearly 2 million residents,
who had once fought a resurgence of rail transit.
At issue for Valley elected officials and business leaders has been
the unfair return on Metro rail lines in the Valley compared to money
spent. Of its $52.4 billion in current Measure R budgeted projects,
according to the transit agency. Of that, the Valley share was $2.5
billion, or 5 percent, while Valley residents make up 15 percent of the
county's population and an estimated 23 percent of its tax base.
Of the 80 rail stops built by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan
Transportation Authority financed by voter-approved sales tax measures,
only two are located in the Valley.
"As the sign says, 'It's our turn,'" Hertzberg said. "We need to put forwards a strong and comprehensive (transit) plan."