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Michael Antonovich: Let's make 30/10 work for all of L.A. County

Posted: April 19, 2010 3:02 p.m.
Updated: April 20, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
This past month, millions of our county's residents participated in the Census. This crucial form provides equitable federal funds to local government supporting a variety of programs from public safety to education to transportation. These monies are locked into local government, committing them to projects they can or cannot fund until the next Census in 2020.

Likewise, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is at a pivotal moment that could lock up all of its resources for the next 10 years with the proposed 30/10 transit plan.

The selling point of 30/10 is the acceleration of the construction of 12 Measure R transit projects from 30 years to 10 years. While it sounds great on paper, 30/10 is inherently flawed and neglects large regions of the county.

When Measure R passed last November, it promised voters a healthy mix of transit and road projects. But 30/10 neglects to include any highway projects. This circumvents the mobility promises made to the gateway cities - the San Gabriel, Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys - and the Glendale/Burbank subregion, which have most or all of their Measure R dollars allotted for highway projects.

The county Economic Development Corp. last week released a report stating that 67 percent of the jobs, economic output and earnings generated by Measure R come from highway projects, with the remaining 33 percent from transit projects. Without incorporating highway projects, the 30/10 plan will leave behind 341,500 jobs, $46.3 billion in economic output and $15.1 billion in earnings. We cannot afford to leave the benefits of highways out of 30/10.

Our county's San Fernando, Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys, under 30/10, would continue to receive the short end of the stick from the city of Los Angeles and the MTA.

The San Fernando Valley, for example, which represents one-fifth of the county's population and 40 percent of the city of Los Angeles, is slated to receive a paltry 13 percent of the city's Measure R dollars and benefit little from the transit plan. The Orange Line Extension, which is under construction, will finish construction and be up and running well before 2020 regardless of 30/10.

In the northern county areas, the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys will grow from 7 percent to 11 percent of the county's population by 2030, but will only receive 5 percent of Measure R funds and no 30/10 projects.

Furthermore, 30/10, as it is written, includes no firewalls or caps on the projects. Only two of the 12 Measure R transit projects - the Gold Line Extension and Orange Line Extension - have their environmental work done, thus any cost estimates for projects like the Wilshire subway extension are not reliable. If project cost estimates go up because of either poor project management or completed environmental review results, would 30/10 cannibalize itself by taking funds from one project to another or use new federal, state or unclaimed local tax dollars to backfill project budgets?

Specific language is required to ensure each of the transit projects are built within their budgets without comprising funds to be utilized by the MTA to provide its mobility duties.

Lastly, accelerating construction for 30/10 transit projects without identifying new revenue sources to operate is a recipe for disaster.
With transit operation funds from the state drying up and federal assistance negligible, the 30/10 plan will require the MTA board to de-fund bus operations, raise fares or propose a new local sales tax to fund the new rail commitments on an accelerated schedule.

Prior to endorsing the 30/10 plan these issues must be vetted at the MTA, and I look forward to working with the board of directors to ensure the plan is regional, balanced, equitable and supported by the entire county.

Michael D. Antonovich represents District 5, which includes Santa Clarita Valley, on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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