Transportation and the New Mayor: The Path Forward

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May 30, 2013 in Politics & Government

The success of Measure R, passed by voters in 2008, the “30-10” plan to accelerate implementation of our transit revolution, and the 66 percent “yes” vote on Measure J each demonstrates that Los Angeles voters are ready to invest in a transportation transformation. There is an opportunity now and a coalition partnership available that’s too good to waste. Together with Mayor Eric Garcetti we must continue cultivating this voter trust and this partnership of labor, business, environmental, community groups and elected officials who share a common vision — of a Los Angeles with a clean public transportation system that is both robust and financially sound, and that has a vigorous economy with prosperity that is widely shared.

As Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has demonstrated so clearly, we can think big about solutions to our challenges as a region — and we can expect to succeed. We can’t let this momentum evaporate. We are a city that wants to continue to grow and prosper, and we are building the transportation infrastructure that ensures our growth and prosperity will be sustainable. And thanks to our mayor we have a path forward, we have the coalition and we have the tools.

Here is Move LA’s take on the Top 10 transportation priorities for our new mayor going forward:

  • Continue working with our coalition to urge Congress to adopt the America Fast Forward bond program, which will provide LA Metro with the financing tools needed to build the 30-year transit program in 10 years.
  • Help build a statewide coalition to champion a California constitutional amendment that lowers the local voter threshold to 55 percent and restores democracy to the voting process. Why should every “no” vote count twice as much as a “yes” vote? Reducing the local voter threshold will enable voters to step up and provide local governments with the revenue that’s needed to build the projects that voters have shown they truly want.
  • Dream big again, as we did in 2008, and begin planning what we could accomplish with another countywide ballot measure — 2016 could be the biggest opportunity to fund completion of the transit system: Extend the Crenshaw Line to Wilshire Boulevard and connect it with a new line from Hollywood and Highland, forming a continuous system from North Hollywood to LAX. Build the vision of a light rail connection from the San Fernando Valley to LAX. Extend the Foothill Gold Line to San Bernardino County and on to Ontario Airport. Extend the Eastside Gold Line to both Whittier and El Monte. Complete the Green Line/Crenshaw connection into LAX and extend the Green Line to Torrance. Complete the West Santa Ana Line from downtown LA to Cerritos. Connect the San Fernando Valley from Burbank Airport to the San Gabriel Valley. Finish the “Subway to the Sea” along Wilshire Boulevard.
  • Pursue public private partnerships (P3s) like the one being talked about to provide relief for the 405 Freeway — where congestion pricing and a toll road tunnel could help pay for a light rail line under the Sepulveda Pass — and provide an enormous opportunity to leverage private investment.
  • Invest with other counties to upgrade the Metrolink regional commuter rail system to provide cleaner, stronger transportation links between Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire, Ventura and Orange counties.
  • Create a truly regional airport system by connecting the regional commuter rail system to airports including Ontario, Burbank and Palmdale. This would provide enormous congestion relief as well as economic development benefit.
  • Continue greening the ports and the regional goods movement system — an enormous resource that provides hundreds of thousands of jobs and can do so with clean technology. There are plans for clean freight. We need to create an investment program to build it.
  • Collaborate with LA Metro on building out the new strategic plan that’s underway for first mile/last mile bicycle, pedestrian and shuttle improvements — so riders can walk and bike and easily access stations.
  • Continue Mayor Villaraigosa’s Transit Corridors Cabinet to coordinate policy and focus public investments along transit lines. Moderate and strategic increases in residential densities in mixed use developments will increase transit ridership while protecting neighborhood character and by honoring — rather than sacrificing — public trust and support.
  • Finally, the mayor must champion, protect and increase the supply of affordable housing, especially in neighborhoods with strong transit service. Affordable housing is an equity imperative and an environmental imperative. Only when working families can live with easy access to jobs and services can we have a truly sustainable community.

(Denny Zane is Executive Director of Move LA, a project of community partners. Gloria Ohland is the group’s Policy and Communications Director.)

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