Los Angeles officials will not seek to put a half-cent sales tax hike for street and sidewalk repairs on the November ballot, a spokesman for a city councilman who had been pursuing the proposal said Tuesday.
Branimir Kvartuc, who works for City Councilman Joe Buscaino, said L.A. leaders are still trying to find the best time to ask voters to approve an increase and will look at elections in 2015 or later.
“We’ve got one shot at passing this and we want to do everything in our power to make sure that it passes,” Kvartuc said. “That’s why we’re looking at future ballots.”
Kvartuc made his comments roughly two hours after Mayor Eric Garcetti said he still had not made a decision on the proposal, which was designed to generate $4.5 billion for repairs over 15 years. Buscaino and Councilman Mitch Englander have tried twice in the past two years to get a street repair tax on the city’s ballot.
More than 35% of L.A.'s streets, or 8,200 lane miles, are considered to be failing or near failing, receiving grades of D and F, a recent analysis found. City officials said 40% of the city’s sidewalks may be in need of repair.
L.A. still faces a potentially costly lawsuit from disability rights activists who say wheelchair users cannot travel successfully on L.A.'s broken and buckled sidewalks. Councilman Paul Koretz, one of the few to publicly support a November tax hike, said the city simply cannot afford to take on a huge repair backlog.
“We haven’t maintained our streets and our sidewalks for decades and it’s about time we get cracking,” he said. “We can’t do it within our budget. We’re over 60 years behind on our streets and over 90 in our sidewalks.”