Transit Sales Tax Is Upheld

From a Times Staff Writer

Orange County's half-cent sales tax for transportation projects was upheld 3 to 0 by the state's 4th District Court of Appeal on Tuesday, raising hopes among officials that they can move ahead more rapidly on dozens of highway and transit projects.

The legal challenge to Measure M, which was approved by 55% of Orange County voters in November, 1990, has reduced the flow of money for transportation projects.

Stanley T. Oftelie, chief executive officer of the Orange County Transit Authority, said the agency will decide whether to start spending the $100 million in taxes collected since the measure took effect last year.

Bill Ward of Drivers for Highway Safety, one of the lead plaintiffs who sued to block the tax, said the group will appeal to the California Supreme Court.

"I knew we would be at the Supreme Court," Ward said, "but we figured it would be the other side that would have to take it there."

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