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Measure J Fails to Get Two-Thirds Majority

Countywide ballot measure falls just shy of passage, with 64.72 percent of votes in favor of the traffic relief sales tax.

A half-cent sales tax that would have accelerated rail, highway, bus and transportation improvement projects across the region failed to secure on Tuesday the two-thirds majority it needed to pass. 

The measure earned 64.7 percent of the vote, two percentage points shy of the 66.7 percent threshold.

Measure J would have extended the Measure R sales tax—the half-cent sales tax hike voters approved in 2008—for the next 30 years. 

Despite the measure's failed passage, Metro CEO Art Leahy said the transit authority would continue its work on transportation projects.

"Metro remains focused on delivering a dozen new transit projects and 15 highway improvement projects that voters approved four years ago in passing Measure R," he said in a statement.

And since Measure R continues until 2039, this might not be the last time voters decide whether or not to extend the sales tax, he said.

"Metro directors have the option of asking voters in the future if they wish to extend the program," he said.

Measure R is dedicated to the construction and operation of a specified list of transportation projects, including the Westside Subway Extension, the Green Line to LAX and the Gold Line extension east from east Los Angeles and a new transit corridor along the 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass.

Measure R received 67.1 percent of the vote in 2008.

The sales tax increase is currently set to last until 2039, and is projected to raise $40 billion in that time period. Approval of the ballot proposal would have extended the tax until 2069.

The Measure J extension would have enabled Metro to continue collecting funds to “bond against” future revenue from the Measure R tax, meaning the agency could estimate the anticipated amount of revenue, sell that amount in bonds to receive the revenue quickly and then pay back bond holders when the money from the sales tax is collected.

A bill authorizing the ballot measure, authored by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), received California Senate approval in August. Gov. Jerry Brown in late September signed a bill that allowed Metro to place Measure J on the November ballot.

Supporters of extending the tax include Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and the bill's sponsor, Feuer.

"We need to get these transportation projects underway now," Feuer said. "By signing AB 1446, the governor has agreed to empower L.A. County voters to jumpstart 250,000 jobs and break through traffic congestion that chokes our region."

The Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education voted in September to adopt a resolution opposing Measure J.

"Our resolution is designed to send a signal to the MTA letting them know how much we oppose running the subway extension under Beverly Hills High School and how their reckless spending has undermined our confidence in their ability to manage taxpayer funds," board President Brian Goldberg told Patch in September.

The measure would have required Metro to break ground on 15 major transit and highway projects within five years instead of 20 years.

—Patch editor Marie Cunningham contributed to this report.

Daryl Hons November 09, 2012 at 09:51 PM
CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS ENTRY... In addition, the cost for blasting or tunneling through neighborhoods would come at a very high human cost. This is one of the reasons why cities today that are building transit lines, notably light rail, utilize existing railroad right-of-ways. There is minimal land acquisition and disruption to neighborhoods, and often the local authorities can use the value of that land as part of their financial commitment where federal funding requirements are concerned. It's also the reason why some people complain after a line is built that "it really doesn't go anywhere or connect to any destination spots." These right-of-ways were once a conveyence for freight and now are used to move people. That said, let's put on our MTA hats and play transit planners. Let's forget about zoning, unions, neighborhood and special interest groups, etc. and think in terms of what might make sense regionally based on limited dollars. First, we have three major airports and four, if you count Long Beach. Using Union Station as the hub for spokes in a wheel, I would connect all the airports with lines: Red Line with Bob Hope, Green Line with LAX, an expanded Gold Line with Ontario, and perhaps a spur off the Blue Line with Long Beach. The Green Line doesn't go to Union Staton but we're stuck with it. Under this plan, you have now connected all the airports in the immediate area. CONTINUED ON NEXT ENTRY...
Daryl Hons November 09, 2012 at 10:06 PM
CONTINUED FROM PREVOUS ENTRY... Now that all the airports are connected to Union Station, it is possible, as convoluted and circuitous as this seems, to go across a large portion of the metropolitan area. Someone in Claremont or Ontario gets on the Gold Line, goes to Union Station and transfers to the Red Line for the Hollywood or San Fernando Valley areas, the Blue Line for South L.A. or Long Beach, or Expo to Culver City or presumably Santa Monica (under construction). Connecting the airports not only provides a framework for a system but it could all be built with a much smaller amount of money than building new lines. Once the framework is in place, then start filling in with new lines, either connectors to the lines connecting airports (think Crenshaw Line) or new ones like the Wilshire Subway or Expo Line. At some point, the money runs dry but at least you have the genesis of something regional and in place for expansion, pending revenue streams. Most corners of the county would be connected and air travelers would have options rather than driving.
not Carl Peterson lll November 09, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Hey Dave I also replied to another post of your a little while ago. Since this is of topic, I will be as quiet as possible. Shhhhh ... Let me ask, If the world was not going toward armaggedon, and global warming science false, would that make it your day, or decade? I have spent considerable time, and I am still shell-shocked that it is false. I could give you concise concrete evidence if you like. As most people are not interested in spending a few minute that can change ones outlook, I will leace it up to you let me know. Happy trails---The Marty
Gayle M. Montgomery November 09, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Got it Marty. I got mine, don't leave home without it. Got great photo apps, too, for it, Marty. Shall I suggest some so you can take pix to use as breadcrumbs so you don't get lost and to send us to remember you by when you do?
pusddad November 10, 2012 at 12:01 AM
The areas past Azusa have the metro link for the commute to LA, and the gold line already takes 30 minutes to union station from its current end point. It won't be much quicker, and likely longer, from Azusa and Glendora. Claremont will be longer than the metro link. I'd love to see it go all the way to Ontario, but still think the planned LA routes will move a lot more people for the same buck.
Daryl Hons November 10, 2012 at 02:59 AM
pusddad, per your comments about Metrolink, there are two basic problems. First, Metrolink doesn't run all times of the day, just rush hours. What's someone supposed to do at other times of the day or night? Related to this is that Metrolink doesn't make many stops. It's heavy rail with not a lot of options. Second, the Gold Line route serves Pasadena, a major center of employment, shopping and entertainment and Metrolink does not stop there. This is my point--if we're talking about a regional framework, we're not looking at Los Angeles by itself. Likely, if you were to net out all the commuters from points east that work in Pasadena there would be a lot less traffic on the 210. We'll just have to agree to disagree on this issue. I take comfort in that Measure J failed--and for good reasons. But I am sure that the plotters downtown are already looking at the voting distributions by area and crafting new messages for the next time they put this extension on the ballot, which wil probably be in a year or two. Hopefully, word will spread of the continued duplicity and the measure will be struck again. Perhaps the MTA should consider a tax initiative in the city of Los Angeles?
not Carl Peterson lll November 10, 2012 at 05:06 AM
Gayle ohhhhhhh....I never thought of that,pic as you go,send them, so just in case something happens, a trajectory of the adventure can be tracked. right? cool! That gets me thinking now. i saw a utube once where someone condensed a walk across the country into a one minute thing. Maybe a head camera. What do you think of an idea I have, Since I am addicted to trail running and hiking, I figured lots off people can't get out much do to phsical problems or age. They can pay to go one one one with me on a vicarious hike. Helmet camera, and sound. They link up with me. I go to the hiking destination, they will be seeing, and hearing everything as if they were with me from their screen, and it becomes a personal and fun experience. I am good with people (unless i marry them) and it would actually be fun.
William Korn November 10, 2012 at 05:43 AM
Marty, could I make a possibly interesting suggestion about your walk to San Francisco? Try following the San Andreas Fault. It goes through the most amazing variety of country, from howling desert (in Santa Barbara County!), over the Tejon Pass (more or less) and up through beautiful live oak covered hill country. That's got to be more interesting than 200 miles of the essentially flat San Joaquin Valley, where the main ambiance in almost any time of the year is fertilizer.
not Carl Peterson lll November 10, 2012 at 06:32 AM
William K Thanks. That is quit a different way to think about what the scenery might be. I have driven through the San Juaquin Valley a few times over the year. But your comment makes me think perhaps i was thinking about the relaxing feeling of driving through farmlands, but would not tranfer to the extreme longer walking.
William Korn November 10, 2012 at 08:14 AM
Buzz, for me "extreme walking" is more than six miles without a nap. Good luck to you! I think the route I suggest would be challenging - even for you, perhaps. Most of the route this side of the Bay Area is very scantily populated. Whether that's an issue for you I don't know. Over 15 years ago I drove through one section of it, the Carrizo Plain, in mid-summer, with my family. My sons, both city boys born and bred, were rather put off by the dirt road (they had never seen one before), the near 100-degree heat, the tumbleweeds, and the lack of any signs of civilization (i.e. McDonald's, Best Buy, houses, etc.). They were convinced we were going to get a flat tire there and die before anyone could find us. But it was neat to actually climb down into the fault trace itself.
Michael November 10, 2012 at 05:45 PM
OMG, voters rejected a tax increase on themselves! Relax, now that the Democrats have a 2/3 majority they will raise all these taxes and wipe out Prop 13 protections, or is that "protections" for you Democrats. The ONLY thing I look forward to is watching fixed-income Democrats lose their homes when Prop 13 goes away. They never feel the consequences of their vote. These stories were in the news in 76-77, most everyone has forgotten them.
Chris Faulconer November 10, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Well, we may have done that with this measure but what about Prop 30 which passed with ease. And we have now taxed ourselves, both sales tax and a tax on the wealthy. Hooray!!!
David V. November 10, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Prop 13 isn't going anywhere, Michael. But what should happen is that the part of Prop 13 that applies to commercial real estate should be repealed. Why do market actors deserve protection from increases in their property values? The revenue it costs the state is a true scandal.
Michael November 10, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Wow, you must have not lived in CA in the 1970s. You will find out the hard way, as most of you do. How do you think Prop 13 came about? And what does the State do with the money? High Speed Fail project, $150K pensions, AB32 enforcement for $6.00 gasoline? You will get all of these things and the price you pay will be your home, as many did. I don't want to convince you of anything, you voted for it, it's in motion, and you will feel the consequences.
LocalGuy November 10, 2012 at 10:15 PM
@Michael W, the High speed rail is paid in the majority by federal funds and private investment, only part of it will come from california state taxes and David is right market actors and other people with commercial properties don't deserve a huge tax break from the rest of us who have to pay more and more income taxes when they get to pay less property taxes. I think we should keep prop 13 for home but I'm not sure if you notices but he said that we should repeal the commercial real estate section of prop 13 not the residential real estate so the price we would pay wouldn't be our home it would be the price that large commercial real estate owners would pay.
LocalGuy November 10, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Also measure J is a half cent increase thats not a big price to pay for better transportation and is barely a tax increase
Vito Spago November 10, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Half cent here, half cent there. Adds up. Why don't you up the sales tax .000001% and send the money to me. That is so small, you will never know it.
David V. November 10, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Yes, Michael, I lived in California in the 1970s. And I still don't understand why you think big business' *commercial* real estate should enjoy special tax protection. It doesn't make sense -- why protect businesses from the market? -- and it hurts all of us by depriving the state of needed revenue. Protecting the little guy, residential homeowner from increases in property tax when property values increase is one thing. Protecting big businesses, which are getting wealthier as their property values increase, from having to pay correspondingly higher property taxes, by contrast, is downright perverse.
David V. November 10, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Because the government can do more important things -- buy public goods, such as public transit, that benefit everyone immeasurably -- with the money than you can.
Michael November 10, 2012 at 11:41 PM
OMG, you Liberals/Hippies are so naive. What were you doing in the 1970s, campaigning for Jimmy Carter? You weren't paying attention to the housing market and people losing their homes. I got news for you, the Democrats won't care about commercial or residential, they want the MONEY. Your commercial argument is absurd, given that most commercial property is paying the full rate because it's newer. Most commercial property in Orange County was built after 1978.
not Carl Peterson lll November 11, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Business property tax; I have had several business leases. They all had "triple net", which meant that on top of the rent, everyone had to pay their percentage of all other expenses that included property taxes. Therefore the taxes were paid either by the cost of merchandise or as in my case recently, right out of retirement account, since the biz was already losing money. I built it. I saved it. They took it. But no roads or bridges. One could say, in a roundabout way my retirement account went to the state to pay for their retirement. California is the least biz friendly state. Fun facts: Interviewing employees, a woman can be 9 months pregnant, But I can't ask. I can't ask where they are from just out of curiosity. If a prospective tenant asks if there is a nearby church I AM NOT ALLOWED TO EVEN ANSWER THAT QUESTION If I see really old mildred struggle with her groceries and help her, any tenant can sue me for preferential treatment. Plumbing stopups have increased because of the low flush toilets. Water heaters have tripled in price, and can not be fixed by a handyman anymore, do to new regulation I am not allowed to state no section 8 in my advertisement. (government paid). Anyone can walk in your biz and find any small thing, and file their 100 th lawsuit for ADA. EVERY SINGLE DAY Roadblocks, taxes fines, regulations, and general harassment, I won't open another biz.. Biz can not always pass these things to the customer, But you can with tenants. .
Michael November 11, 2012 at 01:16 AM
LocalGuy, sorry to make you look so ignorant, but you are. Read below, it makes your comment ABSOLUTELY foolish: "The amount of bond debt service for this rail would more than offset the cuts to the University of California, California State University or Medi-Cal," LaMalfa said. This train is more important than education or Medi-Cal??? You sure must love trains. http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/07/local/la-me-bullet-debt-20120307
Marg November 11, 2012 at 07:24 AM
David V. If you believe they can buy more things and do more important things with the money than the private sector, I suggest you attempt to buy the Golden Gate Bridge. It's for sale, y'know. /S That's as lame as people believing Obama and FEMA are actually doing any good up in the Sandy stricken part of the country. He's off playing golf and they are sitting around staring into the empty store rooms wondering, "Gee, who had the grocery list?"
David V. November 11, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I do believe that, Marg. I do believe that government can build things -- roads, bridges, subways and light rail lines; public schools; emergency management capabilities; a national defense; regulatory systems to keep our food safe and our markets working -- that the private sector can't. That's not to say that the private sector can't do wonderful things: of course it can, and of course it has. But it is to say that those who demean the role of government and extol unregulated markets as a salvation to all our problems speak on the basis of a faith that has not been borne out, in crisis after crisis, from the Great Depression to the Great Recession. The trick is getting the mix of private and public just right. That's not easy to do, and reasonable people can disagree on just where that optimal point is. Trying to find that point requires humility and a willingness to experiment and change one's mind. Just where that point is -- that's something I wish we talked about far more often. By contrast, ideological primal screams that demonize government in every one of its aspects -- those aren't helpful, or even interesting, at all.
William Korn November 11, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Buzz, may I ask you a few questions? As you point out yourself, renters can (and do) have property taxes and other expenses incurred by the property owner included in their rent. If someone is renting a property for his/her business, why shouldn't the owner of that property pass on the same expenses/taxes to the renter? Does the fact that a renter is a businessman make him exempt? That doesn't sound too fair to the property owner, who is also a businessman. I regret and commiserate with you that you had to use your retirement funds to help support your business. Are you suggesting that the reason that your business was losing money was the property taxes/expenses passed on to you by the property owner? I worked much of my career at the Brentwood VA Hospital and UCLA. Both organizations have regulations that make the state look like the Master of laissez-faire. But my question is, how many of the "fun facts" actually happened to you?
not Carl Peterson lll November 12, 2012 at 12:03 AM
William Korn, Are you related to anyone from Mother Jones magazine? Property taxes are passed on no matter what, and are eventually paid by the end consumer. Homerenters: Apartments are valued and sold as a business. All costs, including taxes. are part of the equation. renters in effect pay the taxes as the rents have to justify the costs to the owner. Business: Taxes paid more directly to the building owner, are part of the costs of goods, and passed on to the consumer. I am not saying who or who should not pay. I am just saying the costs taxes end up the burden of the end consumer. The property taxes in regards to my business, was more of a shmarky remark. I lost the majority of what I built up because of a whole host of items. But, I built it. I lost it. I will buid it again.. Having said that, taxes,regulations, and such, have weighed a heavier burden than I think it should. Fun facts:Water Heaters, plumbing, section 8, general road blocks, and regulations are all common. The political correct items listed. I still do it my way. I still do the right thing weather it is or is not politically correct. The makeup of my tenants is a diverse as our community. And I will still help "Mildred" I handle tenant and customer issues with one on one talks with the person as a person, not as a customer or tenant. No lawsuits yet.
William Korn November 12, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Buzz, by a weird coincidence I am related to a David KORN, but not the David CORN that writes for Mother Jones. My brother David KORN is a retired railroad worker who is amused by being mistaken for David CORN, although he agrees with some of what Mr. CORN writes (as do I). Indeed, I believe that David CORN did the country a great service by helping to reveal the scorn Gov. Romney expressed for almost half the population when he thought the population wasn't listening. I'm glad we share common ground on the matter of property taxes. If I patronized your business, I would fully be fine with and expect you to pass on your costs, whatever they are, in proportion to the percentage of your income that my patronage represents. I may be a Democrat, but I absolutely want you to make a profit. Contrary to the beliefs of some that frequent these comment pages (see Marg & Gregory, for example), the immense majority of Democrats are fine with free enterprise and with businesses making profits. In fact many small- and large business owners are Democrats. (continued)
William Korn November 12, 2012 at 01:04 AM
(continued) Although I consider myself to be a "liberal", I happen to believe that the concept of PC is the dumbest thing that liberals ever came up with. However, I must also say that I've never been the object of "hate speech" or "fighting words", so I can't really say what it feels like to have them directed at me. But it seems to me that the PC-related "fun facts" you refer to are caused less by the regulations themselves than by a certain very low breed of lawyer who makes his or her living blackmailing businesses by threatening to charge businesses with code, regulation, or ADA violations. Or by people who have been approached by said lawyers. Or by people who have some other grudge. The codes do serve a purpose. Would you like to eat in a restaurant that didn't meet the sanitary codes set out by state & local governments? Conservatives like to say stuff like, "Well, a restaurant that is a sanitary pesthole will lose customers," which is true. But what would you think if you were one of the customers that got terminal food poisoning?
Al November 15, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Can anyone explain the financing math behind the proposed Measure J funding ? Accelerating bond funds that will receive their first revenue in 2039, and then be on a 30 year payback schedule ? Given the first date to start was in Jan. 2013, how is this 26 years (=2039-2013) of "extra" interest paid on these Measure J expenses from the acceleration ? (or it is "free" money!!?) How can people feel good about voting in taxes for their grandchildren (57 yrs from the start) ? And why commit to such expenses when there is no technical innovation included (keep status quo), do we expect the same technology per mode to be the only options 50+ yrs from now ? And what is the expected lifetime of these improvements, both rail/transit and highway ? Asphalt pavement maybe 15-20 yrs and cement 20+, all less than the life of the bonds.
ROBERT E. FISHBACK November 15, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Oh wow, so many words to read....Two Maxims: :If you have it, flaunt it; if you don't have it, buy it on time and then flaunt it. This is the E=MC squared of the economy. Another brilliancy: Build a good highway all the way up and on top of the S.A. Then, let patience had her perfect work> After the big one, there will be many well placed off and on ramps to the real highway to be built after the big one.

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