Thursday, November 22

LA County to vote on sales tax increase for Metro funding

(Daily Bruin file photo)

(Daily Bruin file photo)

Los Angeles County residents will vote in November whether to increase the sales tax to fund major public transit projects.

LA County Metro officials voted Thursday to put the 0.5 percent sales tax increase on the Nov. 8 ballot. The tax increase would raise about $800 million annually and requires a two-thirds vote to pass.

Officials will use the money to expand Metro’s rail system, including extending the Purple Line to Westwood by 2024 instead of 2035, according to Metro’s ballot measure. The Purple Line currently runs from Union Station in downtown LA to Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue in Koreatown.

Other improvements include decreasing timing between buses, keeping fares affordable and adding lanes to freeways.

The county’s current sales tax is nine percent. Voters have approved three sales tax increases in the last 36 years to fund transportation projects – Proposition A in 1980, Proposition C in 1990 and Measure R in 2008.

Proposition A helped fund the Blue and Red lines and Proposition C helped fund freeway improvements, according to Metro’s website. Measure R is a 0.5 percent sales tax that helped fund the newly finished Expo Line, the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the Purple Line extension to La Cienega Boulevard, the last two currently under construction.

If voters approve Metro’s new ballot measure, Measure R would continue indefinitely beyond its expiration date in 2039.

The increase would also fund a rail line or bus-only lane along the 405 Freeway. The line would connect the San Fernando Valley to Westwood by 2026 and to the Los Angeles International Airport by 2057.

Other projects include a tram connecting the Green and Crenshaw/LAX lines to the airport’s terminals by 2021 and connecting the Crenshaw/LAX and Purple lines at the Wilshire/Western station.

Additionally, 17 percent of the revenue from the sales tax increase would be distributed to cities across the county. Cities will be able to use these funds for local transportation projects such as improving street infrastructure and creating bike lanes.

If the measure passes, the sales tax increase will begin Jan. 1, 2017.

Email Luna at [email protected] or tweet @roberto_lunajr.

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News senior staff

Roberto Luna Jr. is currently a senior staffer covering Westwood, crime and transportation. He was previously an assistant News editor from 2015-2016 and a News contributor from 2014-2015.

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