Would you, city of Los Angeles resident, support a higher sales tax for smooth streets and sidewalks? How about backing a higher sales tax to build light-rail and subway lines? Would you support both tax increases?
That's the question L.A. leaders and voters may soon confront.
On Tuesday, two Los Angeles officials proposed putting a half-cent sales tax increase on the November ballot to raise money for road and sidewalk repairs. City leaders have considered a street repair tax since at least 2006, but council members previously favored a bond measure, which would be paid by property owners. The sales tax would be paid by anyone who shops in the city.
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been pondering its own half-cent sales tax measure for the 2016 ballot, which would allow for new transit projects and speed up the construction of existing projects. (If passed, the new tax would be in addition to the Measure R half-cent tax approved in 2008, meaning L.A. County residents would pay one cent in sales tax for transportation on every dollar they spend.) Metro has eyed the 2016 election for its ballot measure.
So, would Los Angeles city voters be willing to pass two tax increases to fund transportation infrastructure in two years? That's a pretty tough sell to voters, and there's a very real concern that a street repair tax would cannibalize support for another transit tax.
Ultimately the deciding factor will be Mayor Eric Garcetti. His support will decide whether the street tax ends up on the city ballot. The mayor's made "back to basics" the theme of his administrative so far, and there's nothing more basic than paving the streets. But he becomes the chairman of Metro's Board of Directors soon and would presumably lead the campaign for the transit tax, if the board decides to move forward on it.
Will Garcetti prioritize local streets over regional transit needs? Or will he put urbanization and transportation interconnectivity above the parochial politics of potholes? Or will the mayor shake off his low-profile, soft-spoken style (at least, according to the New York Times), and become the champion for both tax measures?
Must-read headlines from L.A. to CA:
LAX shooting response criticized in report, Los Angeles Times
Officials promise to address the lack of communication and poor coordination between agencies after the chaotic response to the Nov. 1 shooting in which a TSA officer was killed and three people were injured.
Another tale of two cities, New York Times
While (Bill) de Blasio has been publicly battling Gov. Andrew Cuomo on raising taxes and closing charter schools, (Eric) Garcetti has been quietly and amiably working with Gov. Jerry Brown on climate change and on providing tax inducements that would stem the exodus of film and TV production companies to Louisiana and Canada. Garcetti recalled that Brown told him over dinner: "You only have a few chances to really communicate. Don't waste them." Garcetti said, "I'm not that interested in a bunch of flash early on," noting that you have to build a team, figure out your style and "find a narrative for your city."
Richmond council moves forward on $12.30-an-hour minimum wage, Contra Costa Times
The City Council on Tuesday passed a first reading of an ordinance that could make Richmond's minimum wage the highest in the state. The council voted 6 to 1 to hike the local minimum wage to $12.30 an hour, with increases pegged to inflation after it is fully phased in by 2017.
Trial by fire for L.A.'s 'interim' fire chief, Los Angeles Times
James G. Featherstone's first day on his new job was the day of the LAX shooting, and it's been lights and sirens ever since.