Claremont Insider: East vs. West on Measure R

Monday, November 3, 2008

East vs. West on Measure R

The Los Angeles Times had an article last Saturday that discussed the LA County Measure R sales tax ballot measure. The article focused on the differences between LA's Westside residents and those in the eastern LA County. (Politicians in outlying county areas like Lancaster or the San Gabriel Valley have argued against Measure R, saying that the money generated would go disproportionately to Los Angeles, particularly the Westside "Subway-to-the-Sea".)

The article, by Times writer Steven Hymon, also made use of Hymon's interview with Claremont Mayor Ellen Taylor, who, along with the rest of the Claremont City Council, has opposed the measure. The article also noted that although it is true that West LA does suffer epic traffic congestion, so does the San Gabriel Valley:

Despite the widely held view that the Westside has the county's worst gridlock, traffic statistics from the California Department of Transportation and the Freeway Performance Measurement System at UC Berkeley suggest that drivers on the east side of town aren't doing much better.

Although parts of the 10 and 405 freeways carry more than 300,000 vehicles daily -- a very high load -- so does the 210 Freeway in Pasadena. And in the last two months, the two freeway bottlenecks where motorists experienced the worst delays during the morning commute were in the San Gabriel Valley, on the 10 and 210.

Ranked four and five on the list: the westbound 10 at Robertson and La Cienega boulevards, respectively.

Measure R has generated much excitement on the Westside because it is considered the first concrete funding step for a Wilshire Boulevard subway, which for decades has been the Holy Grail for those trying to reduce congestion.

The subway could get $4.1 billion from the ballot item. That makes the proposal the largest Measure R project, with the subway possibly accounting for 10% or more of the funds that the sales tax is expected to raise over its 30-year life span.

That has led critics to say that Measure R is a thinly disguised plan by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to secure subway funding at the expense of everyone else.

Some San Gabriel Valley officials are upset that an extension of the Gold Line from Pasadena was denied $80 million in seed money this summer by the Villaraigosa-led board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Measure R provides $735 million for the project, but backers say it is not enough for the line to reach Montclair -- their goal -- and they don't believe they will get the money anyway.