What Was Behind L.A.'s Rejection of its Transportation Ballot Measure?

Was not enough transit spending the culprit for the narrow rejection of Los Angeles County's Measure J initiative, which aimed to speed up construction of a host of the region's transit projects from 30 to 10 years? Damien Newton thinks so.

The forces aligned against Measure J, the proposed extension of L.A. County's half cent sales tax dedicated to funding transportation projects, were an odd mix of bus advocates, and opponents of highly local projects. Counterintuitively, however, points out Newton, "the organized campaign against Measure J wasn't an anti-transit one. If anything, it was an anti-highway, anti-gentrification, and pro-transit operations campaign that included an element that is also opposed to the Westside Subway. The elected officials opposed to the tax extension complained that not enough was being spent on transit in the areas they represent."

"It's an article of faith among Metro Board Members and many in the media that ballot measures need to have freeway funding to pass, but most of the opposition to Measure J was because not enough was being spent on transit projects and operations," argues Newton.

In an interesting postscript, with hundreds of thousands of provisional ballots yet to be counted, the County Registrar's Office flagged Measure J as a "close contest," as of Wednesday. According to Spokeswoman Monica Flores,"[t]he number we have left could potentially change the outcome of [the measure]," which appeared to have failed by less than 2 percentage points.  

Full Story: Measure J’s “Rejection” Was NOT an Anti-Transit Vote


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