California Legislature Must Restore Democracy to Transit Funding

Dec 4th, 2012 | Posted by

Two pieces of transit funding news came out of Los Angeles today. The first is that the LA Streetcar won its vote among downtown property owners to create a local taxing district and raise $125 million in revenue to begin building a streetcar line.

LAMTA Streetcar on Broadway

Unfortunately, we also learned that Measure J, the Los Angeles County Metro transit tax extension that would have helped deliver more rail projects sooner “failed.” It received 66.11% of the vote, a huge landslide victory in almost any other race. But because of the rule requiring a 2/3 vote for most local taxes, Measure J had to get 66.66%.

Metro has said they may try again and there’s every reason to believe they will. Perhaps the next proposal can stay as far away as possible from the 710 extension, and include some more bus funding, both in order to defuse two major sources of criticism and to make a good plan even better.

But it shouldn’t take a 2/3 vote to pass a transit tax. Or any other tax, for that matter. California Democrats have begun exploring reducing 2/3 requirements for parcel taxes to fund schools and other reductions of the 2/3 rule are under discussion. Getting rid of the 2/3 rule for transit funding absolutely ought to be among them.

Many transit taxes across California have “failed” even with widespread majority public support. Monterey County saw transit taxes go down in 2006 and in 2008 despite winning 60% of the vote, leaving many important projects unfinished, including rail to the Monterey Peninsula. Alameda County also saw a transit package narrowly miss the 2/3 mark this year, and is funding a recount to see if 400 votes will flip and lead to Measure B’s passage.

The cost of the 2/3 rule is high. As gas prices soar, as people need reliable alternatives to driving, the lack of transit is an increasing drag on the economy and on household budgets. Money not spent on gas is money that can be spent at local businesses and helping put people back to work. Anti-tax folks may think they’re saving money, but as they sit in traffic and pay high gas prices, they’re losing more than they would pay with a higher tax.

2/3 rules aren’t democratic. They give outsize power small groups who can hold the public process hostage. As California dismantles the legacy of the tax revolt, a revolt that very nearly destroyed the state, the 2/3 rule for local taxes – including transit – must go.

  1. Tony D.
    Dec 4th, 2012 at 20:13

    Yes! By all means, get rid of the stupid 2/3 requirements. It’s outrageous that 30% of the voting populace can decide for the rest of us how to spend our extra pennies on the dollar. BTW, nice photo of the streetcar.

    joe Reply:

    We’ve seen progress since Prop 25 lowered the threshold for a State budget to a simple majority. Now CA can pass a budget on time and make the case for Prop 30 funding via a voter’s Initiative.

    Since the GOP refused to negotiate on any revenue generating compromises – they were irrelevant. The majority decided how to cut the budget.

    IMHO, a simple majority vote will force the opposition party to seek new coalitions and moderate to build and maintain them.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yep and the CRP hated that, no leverage anymore, Oh boo who, boo who… ;)

    synonymouse Reply:

    Note the narrow gauge. Most of those PCC’s went to Egypt; they were reputed to be in excellent shape – no salt. Too bad the City did not pick up on them and re-gauge, but that came at a real transit low point.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The SF Chronicle ran an item today on the LA streetcar renaissance with a snotty dismissal right out of the highway lobby bible:

    “The last streetcar trundled along downtown streets in 1963 before being supplanted in popularity by more flexible choices provided by cars and freeways.”

    Read more:

    More negative was the photo showing the smog and whole bunch of cars on Broadway. Looked worse in the print copy.

    On a more positive key, Friday the 28th is a good day to go to the City. No fares in celebration of the Muni centennial. Evidently cable cars free too.

    Winston Reply:

    The LA streetcar is a great example of a project that should be better. The northern half is well designed, but the loop at the southern end is nearly useless because you can only ride it one way.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “However, some people remained skeptical of such projects.

    “Downtown accounts for only 2 to 4 percent of the jobs in Los Angeles County, and the money would be better spent on regional bus service, said Jim Moore, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Southern California.

    “‘No number of streetcars or connectors is going to cause jobs to re-centralize,’ Moore said. ‘The economic forces pulling us in the other direction are just too strong.'”

    To which I say maybe–and maybe not. Seems a number of cities have had at least a limited downtown revival, and besides, what other arrangements are we going to need when driving becomes unaffordable?

    As it is, the driving experience stinks. I’m ready for the alternatives, especially after a 2 1/2 hour ride to an audit appointment this morning (Thursday), and then a similar ride back home in darkness. . .night vision wasn’t too much of a problem on this trip, but you never relax while keeping a lookout for deer, and man, do my knees bother me from holding the gas pedal down just so. . .the roads I travel on are not conducive to using the cruise control, going up and down and with more curves than Dolly Parton and Queen Latifa combined. . .

    How I wish I could have taken my car to the station in Martinburg, W.Va., had a nice ride on the B&O to Keyser via Cumberland on what would likely have been a mail train with a rider coach, taxi to my appointment in Keyser, and then a replay on the return. . .that old rider coach would still have been more comfortable for that trip than even the best car. . .

    A glimpse of B&O in the classic era of blue and grey paint:

    Some duplicate clips, but also some others, including some in color:

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Jim Moore hopes you won’t notice that the ridership projections for the Blue Line, which he proclaimed as total fantasy in the early 1990s, were in fact achieved on schedule.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And I believe the Anaheim light rail will also be a resounding success, a very pleasant surprise for the locals.

    On the other hand I predict the Tehachapi detoured hsr scheme will be a disappointment, an exception to the general pattern of rail success. The traffic is not there; the route too circuitous, the demographic too rural and auto-centric. The only way they can rescue or justify the Roundabout after the fact is to encourage massive sprawl in the on route high desert.

  2. joe
    Dec 4th, 2012 at 21:22

    Rumor is O proposed 50B for infrastructure with 4B for HSR in 2013.

    According to the folks at the Environmental Law and Policy Center, President Barack Obama’s proposal to avoid the cliff includes not only a variety of tax increases on upper-income folks and a range of spending cuts, but also $50 billion in infrastructure work.

    And included in that $50 billion is $4 billion for high-speed rail; $2 billion for Amtrak, which operates the passenger service; and $4 billion for so-called Tiger grants that can go to rail projects.

    Howard Learner, the center’s executive director, said money — if obtained — could go for service of up to 110 mph between Chicago and Des Moines, as well as further upgrades on the line between here and Detroit.

    Beyond that, even Wisconsin Gov. Rick Scott, who turned down money for service to Madison from Chicago, is willing to accept funds on the Chicago-to-Milwaukee line, Mr. Learner said.

    Read more:

    VBobier Reply:

    I wish that were bigger than 50B and 4B, I’d like 150B and 50B in 2013…

    Emma Reply:

    If it was for Obama it would be $50 billion only for high speed rail alone.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    $4 billion? That’s disappointing. You can’t really do much of anything with $4 billion anywhere except the NEC, and the NEC is funded from a separate Amtrak grant that goes down the bottomless SOGR pit.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yep, couldn’t agree more there Alon Levy. :)

    Howard Reply:

    If California got all 4 billion and matched it with 4 billion Prop 1A funds then we should have enough to get to Palmdale. If we got to Palmdale, Express West might find the private investments and federal loans to extend their Las Vegas high speed train from Victorville to Palmdale. This would allow the two systems to connect and offer Merced to Las Vegas high speed trains. With that service operating just outside of LA it seems likely that private investors would more interested in investing to extend an operating high speed rail system into LA. After it is serving LA it would be easier to find investors to fund the extension into the Bay Area.

    VBobier Reply:

    And that’s a very BIG if…

    Emma Reply:

    The original plan was $8 billion. Then the Senate happened.

    Alan F Reply:

    No, quite a lot can be done with $4 billion for “HSR”, $2 billion for Amtrak, and $4 billion for TIGER grants. Amtrak could use the $2 billion for the (north) Portal Bridge replacement, get started on Gateway project, bunch of NEC modernization projects and $500+ million for the downpayment on rolling stock orders. HSR in this context means higher speed rail, so $1+ billion to CA, $1-2 billion to the Midwest for the Chi-StL and Chi-Detroit corridors, and the remainder to the eastern non-NEC corridors. A lot is getting done with the $10.1 billion from the ARRA and FY10 HSIPR grants.

    Unfortunately, the House Republicans will not go along with the idea because 1) the Tea Party is opposed to new spending that is not for the military, and 2) Obama proposed it. At least, Obama keeps proposing increased infrastructure spending for passenger rail, despite the deadlock in Congress.

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    Wisconsin governor Rick Scott?

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah He’s mentioned, strange but true…

    Nathanael Reply:

    That’s definitely confusion.

    Walker == Wisconsin. (And do not give any money to that state’s government until he is in prison, which he should be soon thanks to the “John Doe Probe”.)

    Scott == Florida. (And he was elected AFTER being the mastermind behind the biggest Medicare fraud ever, so… Florida voters are stupid.)

    Jo Reply:

    50B is woefully inadequate. What ever happened to the proposed infrastructure bank? Could some of this money instead go to start up an infrastructure bank? It may encourage private investment.

  3. Numan Parada
    Dec 4th, 2012 at 21:44


    The 710 Freeway Tunnel opponents published the following op-ed just days before the Measure J vote, stating that a “no” vote would spite Metro for supporting the tunnel. Their argument:

    1. Metro supports Measure J
    2. Metro supports 710 Tunnel, therefore
    3. Yes on Measure J = Yes on Metro = Yes on 710 Tunnel, so
    4. No on Measure J = No 710 Tunnel

    Opponents believed voting “no” would deny money for highway projects including the tunnel, when in fact these will be funded regardless of what happened with Measure J. The 710 Freeway Tunnel is already funded through Measure R, would not have been accelerated under Measure J, and indeed had nothing to do with Measure J.

    In fact, said measure also had a provision that would have allowed the Metro Board to move money from highway projects to transit projects within a sub-region. With that option off the table and with not little irony, the efforts of tunnel opponents to defeat Measure J have now instead made the tunnel more likely to be built. However, with the environmental studies ongoing, Metro may still opt to choose a transit project paralleling the corridor.

    Being a supporter of the 710 Freeway Tunnel myself, I express nothing but disappointment to anyone who believes this tunnel shouldn’t be built, when Los Angeles has long been in need of a north-south bypass around Downtown LA. In the past, it was easy to shoot the concept down because the surface routes proposed would indeed have damaged communities. With the tunnel, however, these communities stand to lose significantly less, so they will have nothing to take exception to anymore.

  4. Reedman
    Dec 4th, 2012 at 22:13

    $4 billion is enough to build the entire Casablanca-Rabat-Tangier HSR system.

    China built the entire 819 mile Beijing-Shanghai line for $34 billion.

    VBobier Reply:

    But not with US Currency or with US wages or US prices on materials…

    Emma Reply:

    Exactly. They also don’t have to go through EIRs and NIMBYs like here. Just build it whenever wherever

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Emma Reply:

    Those countries don’t have the CHSRA making sure we always choose the worst, slowest and most expensive option.

    If it wasn’t for Jerry, they would probably still claim that the project will cost $90 billion.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    So it’s not NIMBYs and EIRs, then. And perhaps densely populated first world countries have environmental laws and are full of people who don’t want construction in their back yards also?


    But but but but … KILL CEQA OR NO CHOO CHOO FOR YOU!

    Jonathan Reply:

    And just who wants a CHOO CHOO?

    synonymouse Reply:

    What ever happened to Spokker? The iconoclasm is missed.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Materials cost the same everywhere. And Beijing-Shanghai is one of the most expensive HSR lines built outside the Anglosphere.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Yeah, just think of all the money used to bribe local officials.

  5. Matt
    Dec 4th, 2012 at 22:37

    Just read on the MTA’s Source blog that Senator Carol Liu has already proposed a constitutional amendment to lower the 2/3 threshold for transportation related sales tax.

  6. Andy Chow
    Dec 5th, 2012 at 03:50

    If the threshold is lower then you might see more taxes going towards the bad projects (like new highways), and you will have little leverage to try to change that course (because they have the money and it won’t be able to reallocate to something else). Just because not all taxes pass (Measure R was approved 4 years ago under the same rule, even though it is a tax increase and not an extension), it doesn’t mean that tax proponents should build as a wide coalition as it can. Lowering the threshold means the core proponents (which generally don’t include us) don’t need to build as wide a coalition (meaning that they can ignore us).

    Nathanael Reply:

    So what?

    2/3 rules need to go away. I mean, OK, it’s all very well to have a supermajority requirement for things like changing the Constitution — because changing the Constitution has been used, in the past, in other countries, as a scam in order to end democracy and establish dictatorship, by “pulling a fast one”. Hell, this was done in Hungary in the last few years by the dictatorial Fidesz party.

    But 2/3 rules for normal governmental activity, like taxes? No. That has to stop.

  7. Derek
    Dec 5th, 2012 at 07:21

    Back to the Drawing Board for Regional Transit Plan, by Andrew Keatts, Voice of San Diego

    San Diego rules against sprawl:

    A Tuesday court ruling found the San Diego Association of Government’s 40-year transportation plan violated California environmental regulations.

    The plan ignored environmental regulations, saying that GHG emissions would rise under the plan but with no adverse environmental impact. And the plan pushed freeway projects to the beginning of the 40 years but bicycle and transit projects to the end.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    SCAG is too heavily influence by the suburban cities in Northern SD County. The city itself has insufficient influence to win an argument for transit and alternative transportation

    Emma Reply:

    Exactly. SANDAGs plan was getting worse the more they talked about it. For a 40 year project, this was pretty lousy. A serious government could have gotten it all done in a decade.

    BMF from San Diego Reply:

    Ooops. I meant SANDAG and not SCAG.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Good news. Maybe they’ll come up with a sane, legally compliant plan now. The people are probably ahead of the governments anyway; the support for public transportation and electrified transportation *has* been increasing, even in northern SD County.

  8. Derek
    Dec 5th, 2012 at 08:49

    Transit tax failure has backers seeking changes to California law, by Ari Bloomekatz, Los Angeles Times

    “The two-thirds threshold is an excessive barrier to progress and it needs to change,” said Matt Szabo, head of the Yes on J effort and a former top aide to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

  9. Reedman
    Dec 5th, 2012 at 10:11

    FYI, last night the Alameda County Transportation Commission decided not to pay for a recount of the election ballots, and in doing so conceded the failure of their proposed Measure B1 sales tax hike. The recount would have required looking at about 510k ballots by hand, at an estimated cost of over $100k (which would have to be paid by the Commission). The Commission paid about $5k for a recount of a small number of ballots to gauge what to expect, and based on those results decided to admit defeat. It cost the Commission about $1 million to put the measure on the ballot, and the Commission is expected to spend a similar amount to try again.

  10. Emma
    Dec 5th, 2012 at 10:41

    Los Angeles is everything that is wrong with the United States. A metropolitan area of this size anywhere else in the world would have a massive public transit network with at least 10 light rail lines reaching every part of the city. Especially the famous areas like Santa Monica. A 2/3 majority for a referendum is absolutely unnecessary when you have such an overwhelming majority for expansion.

    I just wish the federal government was as supportive of public transportation as the ones in Europe, Asia heck everywhere else but North America.

    Mike Reply:

    It’s just symptomatic of a bigger difference, namely that our federal government has a policy of neglect (sometimes benign, sometimes not) toward our major cities and metro regions. National governments in many (most?) other countries are enthusiastically devoted to their largest cities and regions, recognizing them to be the primary drivers of economic advancement. We Americans, being extra special and smarter than any other nation, are instead slavishly focused on the so-called needs of our rural areas.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    US states are larger and richer than many counties.

    US states are filled with people who vote for the quality of state government as the federal government they elect.

    The problem isn’t the big bad feds being mean to the poor little local states.

    It’s not the US federal government that wants HSR to Los Banos, HSR to Palmdale, the Muni Central Subway, the Seattle Alaska Way tunnel, CBOSS for Caltrain, BART to the San Joé Flea Market, the $150 Amtrak NEC “Vision”, etc, etc. It’s all Democrats, it’s all Democrat-controlled, it’s all in impossibly wealthy megaregions, it’s all shit. The Tea Party has nothing to do with it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sadly more money mostly does not translate to better results – just more spending.

    The Muni Central Subway is emblematic and small and simple enough the planning flaws are in your face. I guess they just gave up on any level of rescue; it would require throwing a lot more money at it, when Geary has so much more patronage potential. The Pagoda idea is a pathetic crapout. Path of least resistance and least imagination once again.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Nothing in San Francisco is emblematic of anything in the rest of the US.

    If you want emblematic, look at New York, where we elect Democrats and they actually *defect to the Republican Party* (State Senate) or openly announce that they want the Republicans to win (thanks for nothing, Governor Cuomo). The rule of frauds is a big problem.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Don’t we all wish it was only $150 to fix the NEC.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Richard, your political analysis is pathetically inaccurate in the extreme. I suggest actually learning something about politics today.

    Hint: we have an internal fracture in the Democratic Party between the majority (on the one hand) and a bunch of craven idiots (on the other hand). The craven idiots remain on top.

    synonymouse Reply:

    LA did have a “massive public transit network”. It was intentionally and systematically destroyed. The same kind and degree of stupidity that enabled that incredible mistake is still in play today.

    $10 billion to be conceivably saved at Tejon and they turn their collective backs on even studying it? These bozos are no better or smarter than the Jesse Haugh’s of the fifties.

    synonymouse Reply:

    $10 billion is five Central Subways.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I have no idea what you people are talking about. LA has a public transport system, it is called roads and highways. It goes everywhere, is free to use, and is supported by federal, state, and local governments.

    What LA does not have is a “pay per ride” system like trains. But you can’t say the government is not supporting a transit system, they are, and it is public.

    Peter Reply:

    I guess those people without access to cars get to walk in your “public” transportation system? You know, like poor people?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or people who are too young, too old or just too sick to drive.

    joe Reply:

    Ride bikes? Sidewalks?

    swing hanger Reply:

    Bicycles? -get off the damn road! Sidewalks?- what are those, nobody walks here! It’s survival of the fittest, and the fittest drive their own vee-hickles.

    Joey Reply:

    You mean survival of the fattest?

    swing hanger Reply:

    yeah, that too:) The skinny ones stay that way coz they drive their SUV 2.5 miles to their members only gym for their workout on the exercise bike and stepper.

    Goat Reply:

    Last I checked LA has a rather extensive system of trains with a fare structure.

    synonymouse Reply:

    What is overlooked is that the rail system in LA and the Basin ca. 1940 was extensive and quite efficient. The very antithesis of boondoggle.

    Of course the highway lobby saw rail in the way of the quest for 100% market share.

    Also forgotten is the nefarious role of the so-called transportation “experts” who jumped on
    the anti-rail bandwagon. What the PE and LARy desperately needed was the endorsement of the city fathers and their hired consultants. Instead they got stabbed in the back.

    Now we are reconstructing at an enormous cost. Same genre of faddist and brain dead group think that trashed the PE is holding forth at PB-CHSRA. For every Van Ark you have 10 Jesse Haughs.

    (1950)Electric rail is old-fashioned and obsolete – stupid
    (2012)Spending an extra $10bil on a 50 mile and half hour extra detour – equally stupid

    Same class of overpaid, blindered, and politicized transit wunderkinder in decision-making positions in both cases

    Jon Reply:

    Just in case anyone is tempted to take synonymouse’s rantings at face value, the Tejon route would have saved about 5 minutes, not 30, and the savings would have been about $2 billion, not $10 billion.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is about 50 miles, especially if you add go to the west in Bako.

    Best-case scenario is wholly dependent on nothing is off limits eminent domain at the Tejon Ranch.

    Just take out your AAA highway map and compare the routes. No brainer.

    They are trying to claim Greece and Venezuela are the most corrupt – naah, it is the once Golden State in spades. Moonbeam and the teachers union right up there with Hugo.

    Peter Reply:

    If you will recall, your route mileage numbers change from post to post as well.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They are going to be variable until an exact route is fixed. for both alternatives In the case they a priori outlawed the best routes.

    The disparity in route miles, travel times, and costs of construction, operation, and maintenance is substantial. Given the pervasive and continuing unwillingness to do a study of the optimum route, you can take it to the bank that the disparity is very substantial and it is the last thing that Moonbeam, PB, Palmdale and the Tejon Ranch Co. want the voters to know.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Should read in the case of Tejon

    Peter Reply:

    No, I’m not talking about the Authority’s numbers. YOUR mileage numbers change. Significantly.

    Jon Reply:

    Yes, it is about 40-50 miles difference, but that’s not what I was disputing. It’s your cost and time savings that are grossly exaggerated.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I am using best-case for Tejon vs. worst case for Tehachapi.

    And every indication has been so far that Tejon does evidence a good to perhaps very good route and there aren’t any exceptional routes at Tehachapi no matter how much you gold-plate, short of a base tunnel. And for a base tunnel you would look for the shortest alignment.

    Jon Reply:

    I see. And where did you get these ‘best case’ and ‘worse case’ numbers from?

    CAHSR have pegged Tehachapi at $15 billion and 38 minutes. If you can show me a route that does LA to Bakersfield for $5 billion in 8 minutes, I will be very impressed and will concede the point.

    Otherwise, what you are doing is sandbagging the comparison to make your preferred route look better- precisely what many have accused CAHSR of doing, with some justification.

    Peter Reply:

    He’s comparing apples to oranges. Service to Bakersfield and Fresno to I-5.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I wish I had precise and certain figures for the Tejon optimum mileage, travel time, estimated ccost of construction, operation and maintenance. I’m afraid it is above my pay grade and certainly my security clearance, but I suspect Mr. Van Ark has a pretty decent ballpark for all of the above. You have to factor that any specifics on the optimum, call it the “golf course high option” Remember the CHSRA effectively slapped an embargo on studying the Tejon Ranch – you’d think it was Area 51. Any solid info on it and the banned select thru it would have been off the record.

    Damn if I can understand all the pious PB worship emanating from the cheerleaders. As the expression goes, it should be obvious to the most casual observer there is a concerted conspiracy to spend many extra billions on a scheme that only benefits one town and some out of state gambling interests, who are not interested in public transit and who don’t even care for Brown’s politics. Tejon is better for the cause of hsr and it better serves the future interests of the State overall. Always go with the most efficient.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Factor in that any specifics on the preferred alignment were politically verboten.

    Jon Reply:

    In other words, your numbers came out of thin air.

    The study did specifically avoid Tejon Ranch for the final routing, but the discarded routes found by Quantm that cut through Tejon Ranch were very similar to the one they took forward and priced, except for the few miles through Tejon Ranch itself. How much money would a straighter tunnel alignment through that short section have saved? Maybe half a billion, tops.

    I have no interest in cheerleading for PB and I called out the sandbagging in the I-5 study when it was published, but you are distorting the facts to serve your argument far more than they did.

    synonymouse Reply:

    As I recall the report did allow that the Bear Trap Canyon route was superior and was not allowed to be considered.

    Others with better interpretative skills have read between the lines and have concluded the banned route was vastly better and cheaper. That is why it was off limits. PB’s mind was made up for it way in advance by politicians not engineers.

    Why would one try to distort PB’s “facts”, as they are so questionable from the get-go. I think the best term to describe them is “subject to change without notice”. Or, according to the political dictates du jour. I am admittedly looking at the exquisite best-case scenario for Tejon and conversely the atrociously worst-case for Tejon.

    PB has for years blatantly tried to represent Tehachapi as without sin or shortcoming. Utter bs.

    synonymouse Reply:

    uh, substitute Tehachapi after worst-case

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    In other words, your numbers came out of thin air.

    Considering where he pulls them from I doubt the air was very thin when he does it.

    Joey Reply:

    Should people be required to own a car in order to vote too?

    Nathanael Reply:

    John, a road system devoted to automobiles is very much a “pay per ride” system. Price of entry: one car and a whole bunch of gasoline. (Or, to be fair, one very expensive electric car.)

    J. Wong Reply:

    The Expo light rail is already half way to Santa Monica (and operating to Culver City) and scheduled for completion in 2015.

  11. BMF from San Diego
    Dec 5th, 2012 at 17:30

    And just to be crystal clear… LA County’s Measure J would have extended an existing tax. It currently expires in 2039 – 26 years from now. 26!

    If passed, the tax would be extended from 2039 to 2069.

    My gawd people, let’s get a grip. The failure means nothing except the 66.67% is sometimes not enough to really indicate the will of the people.

    LA County is already embarking on a massive expansion to its existing rail network. It’s already a system that has 2 subway lines and 4 light rail lines. Over 350k ride the lines each weekday.

    VBobier Reply:

    Which is a lot of people, no matter how one slices it. If I were Metro I’d wait until and if the Legislature can lower the requirements down to 55%, after the people vote on it of course.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The will of the people is determined by, y’know, 50% + one vote. That’s why we call it the “majority” and have these things called “elections”.

    Supermajority requirements are actually designed to thwart the will of the people. This may be good in cases where the people might be inclined to be a lynch mob this week (“yeah! let’s abolish civil rights for X!!!”) but might calm down in a few weeks. But in normal cases, thwarting the will of the people is bad.

  12. RWS
    Dec 6th, 2012 at 11:33

    The 2/3 majority requirement is outrageous and needs to be amended. Since when does a NO vote count twice as much as a YES vote? The people of LA County and Alameda County both spoke with resounding supermajorities re: transit measures on November 6th, and both counties were told to shut up by a law from 1978. Time to amend the state constitution to allow for transit measures to pass with a more reasonable threshold, like 50% to 60% max. Howard Jarvis passed Prop 13 in 1978, he died in 1986 and he certainly doesn’t have to suffer driving in California in 2012. It’s a new day, let’s fix this California and let democracy and transit shine.

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