The City of Carson filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County on August 26 over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) proposed sales tax increase that is scheduled to appear on the November 8 general election ballot.


The lawsuit claims the proposed Measure M is misleading and unclear to taxpayers, residents and the general public and therefore should not be voted on until clarifications are made and voters are better informed.


“The public deserves, and the law requires, a transparent, accurate description of tax Measure M, including spending priorities,” G. Ross Trindle, lead attorney for Carson and the other petitioning cities [which were not identified by the City of Carson], said. “The public will not receive this essential information from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s current title and description of Measure M, which is critical for taxpayers to cast an informed vote.”


If passed by voters, the proposed measure would raise the L.A. County sales tax by a half-cent, building on the previous voter-approved half-cent increase through Measure R (passed in 2008). Measure R would be extended for 20 years. However, Measure M does not have a sunset date, meaning the tax increase could remain in effect indefinitely. The measure requires two-thirds of voter approval to pass.


Metro officials estimate the increased tax would generate $120 billion in the first 40 years. The increased tax revenue is to be used for transportation improvements such as new rail and bus lines, highway improvements, new bike paths and lanes, and street repair.


Albert Robles, mayor of the City of Carson, explained that the transparent information missing from the explanation of the measure is how much it will cost residents each year, as well as how long these transportation improvements will take.


Robles said improvements to the South Bay Curve on the 405 Freeway would not be completed for 30 years and improvements to the interchange of the 110 and 405 freeways would take just as long. He added that it would be at least 40 years until improvements to the 710, 605 and 5 freeways are completed.


“In other words, if Measure M passes, taxpayers in about 50 communities, representing at least two million residents, will be paying for Measure M forever but won’t see any traffic relief on their freeways and roads for decades,” Robles said. “And this simple fundamental transparency requirement is good public policy that all concerned residents, voters and taxpayers need.”


Other cities in L.A. County that have officially opposed Measure M include the cities of Commerce, Norwalk, Torrance, Santa Fe Springs, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills Estates and Signal Hill, among others, according to the City of Carson. Long Beach, which just received approval from its voters to increase the city’s sales tax by one percentage point for six years then half a percentage point for four years, has yet to take a position on the measure.

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.