On September 6, opposition to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Measure M hit a roadblock when a Superior Court judge rejected a petition against the ballot measure. The following day, three big names were added in support of Measure M from the local, state and federal levels.
Filed by the cities of Carson, Commerce, Norwalk, Torrance, Santa Fe Springs, Ranchos Palos Verdes and Signal Hill, the rejected petition claimed the ballot measure’s wording was misleading and unclear to taxpayers and should not be voted on until voters could be better informed.
According to the petition, Measure M does not make it clear to voters that the proposed half-cent sales tax increase, which would begin in 2017, does not have a sunset date, meaning it could continue indefinitely. Also missing from the verbiage, according to opposition, is that the measure extends a previous half-cent increase through Measure R to 2039, at which point the Measure M increase would double to one cent to make up the loss.
However, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel stated that there is no evidence showing the wording of Measure M is confusing to voters, nor is it an initiative that requires the ballot language specifics being called for by the action.
“All we are seeking is transparency,” Carson Mayor Albert Robles said after hearing the decision. “The voters shouldn’t be misled or confused.” Robles added that the group is considering an appeal.
The day after Strobel’s decision, U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia endorsed the measure, agreeing it would be beneficial for every city affected.
“Measure M would make significant improvements to the Blue Line and connect riders to a world-class system across the region,” Garcia said. “Measure M would help address the worst freeway bottlenecks affecting Long Beach and would help clean our air by easing congestion. I support the measure, which creates good paying local jobs and delivers important infrastructure projects for Long Beach and across the county.”
The proposed measure would fund improvements to the 710, 605, 405, 110, 60, 57, 10 and 5 freeways, including auxiliary lanes, lane extensions, additional carpool and general purpose lanes, street widening, interchange improvements, and on- and off-ramp improvements.
Additionally, the funds would pay for L.A. County’s portion of a new freeway and toll lanes to connect cities in the Antelope and Victorville Valleys, including Palmdale and Lancaster. The funds would also help with bus and rail operations, local street improvements, repairs and upkeep, bike and pedestrian paths, as well as programs to keep fares affordable for students, seniors and disabled people. All Measure M projects would be built over the next 40 years.
“Measure M will attract federal matching funds to accelerate projects in the Long Beach region that would otherwise go elsewhere. I strongly endorse Measure M,” Rep. Lowenthal said.
According to a July report by the nonprofit Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, Measure M would create 465,900 new full-time and part-time jobs. It is also estimated that the measure would generate $860 million per year to fund its numerous projects.
Assemblymember O’Donnell said, “Measure M strikes the right balance between countywide projects and local improvements to best improve our daily transportation needs, and it will make a tremendous difference in improving our air quality. We need Measure M, and we need it now.”
Measure M is scheduled to appear on the November 8 general election ballot and requires two-thirds voter approval to pass.