UCLA researchers hoping to induce mayoral and City Council candidates to spend more time discussing long-term sustainability in political races dominated by fiscal and economic issues today released a sweeping environmental blueprint to turn Los Angeles into a green metropolis.
The 85-page report, titled "Vision 2021 LA: A Model Environmental Sustainability Agenda for Los Angeles' Next Mayor and City Council," details goals and deadlines in 11 areas, including energy and climate, transportation, water and waste, among others. It calls on the city to adopt a sustainability plan by 2014 and review it every other year.
"These are realistic, sustainable goals that the city has the capacity to do in an eight-year period, two mayoral terms," said Megan Herzog, an Emmett/Frankel Fellow in Environmental Law and Policy at UCLA and one of the plan's seven authors. "We're looking at ideas where the funding is available, with implementation measures that could be deployed right away. These are shovel-ready projects."
Bittersweet news has hit Los Angeles transit advocates over the past two days.
First, Measure J, the L.A. County November 6 ballot initiative to extend a sales tax dedicated to transportation projects by 30 years, lost by nearly a half a percentage point, according to the final ballot tally posted Sunday. Still, all may not be lost: "The Measure R transit sales tax for transit - approved in 2008 - continues until 2039, so Metro directors have the option of asking voters in the future if they wish to extend the program," read a statement by Metro, which stewards the special tax money.
Second, a special tax district to fund a streetcar in downtown L.A. has won, according to preliminary results. Voters approved $62.5 million in local funding, it was announced Monday evening. The approved funding would cover about half of the cost of the system and the rest will be sought from the federal government, backers of the project said.
The Los Angeles City Clerk, which announced preliminary results of a special mail-only election, said that 73 percent of voters approved the funding, topping the two-thirds majority required for adoption of the measure.
Out of 2,066 ballots cast by voters in the streetcar voting district, 1,508 were in favor of the funding, which will come from a bond, according to Shiraz Tangri, general counsel of Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc.
A community facilities district formed through a City Council vote earlier this year called for the special election, through which voters were asked to decide on a bond not to exceed $85 million.
To pay the bond, a tax will be levied on land owned by all property owners within the district. The streetcar voting district extends about three blocks around the proposed streetcar route, according to Tangri. Properties closest to the route will be a higher tax rate than those farther away, system backers said.
Ballots were sent to voters on Nov. 13 and had to be returned to the clerk's office in time to be counted today.
City Councilman Jose Huizar, who has backed the streetcar proposal, lauded the results of the vote, saying the streetcar system would improve "transit connectivity" and positively impact downtown revitalization.
"Now that the people have spoken, Los Angeles is well on its way to bringing a modern streetcar back to downtown Los Angeles," Huizar said. "With this critically important local funding approved, we will now work closely with our Washington D.C. representatives to advocate for the federal funding needed for construction."
The tax for most condominium owners in the district will be less than $100 per year, according to Tangri. "We've earned great support from property owners who will be paying the tax who understand the benefits the streetcar will bring."
The streetcar system would run seven days a week, approximately 18 hours per day and would serve the Civic Center, Broadway and the Historic Core, the Fashion District, South Park, L.A. Live and the Convention Center, the Financial District and restaurant row through the Jewelry District, according to project backers who hope construction can begin by the end of 2014 and be complete as early as 2016.
With streetcar reporting by City News Service
Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan today ended his campaign to place on the ballot a pension plan that would move new city employees to 401(k)-style retirement accounts.
Riordan's Save Los Angeles campaign determined it could not meet a self-imposed Dec. 28 deadline for gathering about valid 265,000 signatures necessary to place the pension plan on the May 21 ballot.
Riordan launched his campaign early this month, saying that rising pension costs will sap taxpayer money from other essential city services. The former mayor warned that within five years, the city will only be able to afford to pay for police officers, firefighters, and pensions.
The City Council voted today in favor of scheduling a $400,000 special election for May 21 to replace City Councilman Tony Cardenas in the Sixth District, with a runoff, if necessary, on July 23.
Cardenas was elected November 6 to represent the Northeast San Fernando Valley in the House of Representatives. The council seat will become open after the congressman-elect officially resigns.
County officials still have 215,991 ballots to process, it was announced today in their bi-weekly update. The L.A. County Recorder-Registrar/County Clerk's office has through early December to finalize processing votes.
Today's update gave Measure J, the proposal to extend an already existing sales tax dedicated to transit funding, another small percent increase -- from 65.06 to 65.33 percent. The tax, imposed by L.A. County voters in 2008, is scheduled to expire in 2039; Measure J would extend it another 30 years to speed up transit infrastructure projects and needs a two-thirds vote -- 66.67 percent -- to pass.
County Clerk Dean Logan has deemed it a "close call," but Metro officials, who are stewards of the special tax money, announced that it lost early on.