By Damien Newton, September 1, 2016
So far, most of Streetsblog L.A.’s coverage of Measure M,
Metro’s sales tax proposal that will be on the fall ballot, has been
positive. With our eyes fixed on graphics showing the growth of our rail
and rapid bus network, a robust active transportation funding program,
and some flexibility in the language allocating highway funding; there’s
a lot to like in the proposal.
But no ballot measure, especially one of this size, is perfect and
there are many groups fighting the ballot measure for a variety
of reasons. Here’s a list of some of the main opponents of Measure M,
along with a few others that might join the fight in the future.
Fight for the Soul of the Cities and the Bus Riders Union
– The BRU has fought tooth and nail against Measure R in 2008 and
Measure J in 2012. Their arguments, both then and now, focus on two
points. First, they argue that Metro cannot be trusted with such a large
infusion of funds because of a poor civil rights record. Second, they
feel the measure’s focus on automobile flow and rail expansion instead
of more robust growth for the bus network and greater fare subsidies
won’t actually do anything to improve mobility or the environment. Read
more details on their arguments, here.
Carson, Torrance, Rancho Palos Verdes, Signal Hill, Santa Fe Springs, Commerce and Norwalk
– These seven southeast cities argue that because the main project for
their corner of the county, a freeway widening, isn’t scheduled for
construction for decades that they are being forced to subsidize the rest of the county’s transportation plan. A recent lawsuit filed against the project also alleges lies in the approved ballot language.
The City of Beverly Hills – John Mirisch isn’t just a commenter at The Source,
he’s also the Mayor of Beverly Hills. Given the city’s opposition to
one of Metro’s signature projects, the Purple Line Extension from
mid-town to the V.A. Hospital, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the City
renewed its opposition to a Metro proposed sales tax. Beverly Hills was a
key member of the coalition that narrowly defeated Metro’s Measure J in
2012. Mirisch recently authored a long piece on the Huffington Post outlining why, in his view, a vote for Measure M will benefit Metro staff and developers and be bad for everyone else.
The Crenshaw Subway Coalition – In 2012, the
Coalition was also a key member of the No on Measure J campaign mainly
because there was not enough funding going to fun a full-grade-separated
Crenshaw Line through South L.A.’s black-owned business districts.
At an anti-J rally, executive director Damien Goodmon argued
“We are all opposed to…the crony capitalism, we are opposed to MTA
becoming an ATM for the 1%, the developers and the contractors. We stand
across the street from View Park Prep School (at Slauson and Crenshaw)
where a proposed light rail line will be endangering the safety of
children. It’s a common thread throughout the region…in Beverly Hills,
in South LA, in East LA… and we see an agency that can simply not be
trusted with our tax dollars.”
While the Crenshaw Line is under construction, an infusion of funds
might not be enough to do the grade separation the coalition wanted four
years ago. The organization is still active and is doubtless not happy
“Taxpayers Rights” Organizations – There are a
handful of organizations that oppose every newly proposed tax including
the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Even if they haven’t taken a
position on Measure M yet, they almost certainly will.
No on 710 – The No on 710 Coalition is widely
believed to have fought Measure J because its imagery appeared at No on
Measure J events and the issue of the proposed highway tunnel extension
was brought up by opposition. However, when I reached out to one of the
leaders of the organization, they stressed that they were not in
opposition to Measure J in the past nor Measure M today.
“First, let me say that the our organization, the No 710 Action
Committee did not oppose Measure J. The issue of the tunnel was used by
other opposition groups, so there was some confusion about our official
position. As far as Measure M is concerned, Metro has included language
in the ordinance that precludes the use of Measure M funds for
construction of the tunnel alternative. The No 710 Action Committee does
not oppose Measure M. We have always supported good projects such as
the extension of the Gold Line to Claremont, and in fact strongly
recommend that the remaining $700 million dollars (approximately) targeted by Measure R for the SR 710 be used instead for the very worthy Gold Line Extension.”
The Coalition to Preserve LA –
The organization which is fighting to pass the Neighborhood Integrity
Initiative in March of 2017 has yet to take a position on Measure M and
quite possibly never will. However, some of the Coalition’s highest
profile backers are vocal opponents of Measure M and some of Measure M’s
highest profile supporters are opponents of the Neighborhood Integrity
Initiative. Will this lead to opposition on Measure M? Probably not, but
stranger things have happened.
Did I miss someone? Let me know in the comments section.