Measure M Content

Measure M is Birthed

Mayor Eric Garcetti was elected in the spring of 2013. While he was always a strong supporter of transit, and very supportive of Measure R, he was not initially ready to declare his support for a second half-cent sales tax measure.  Work to demonstrate that there was real support in the community must first be accomplished.  

This effort took on two forms: First, LA County Supervisor and Metro Board member Mike Antonovich proposed that Metro solicit from all the cities in the county their transportation infrastructure priorities, creating what was then called a Mobility Matrix.  Second, Denny Zane and Move LA were impressed with how close Measure J had come to winning 2/3 in November, 2012. Move LA proposed the development of another measure with an expanded project list that built on Measure R:  Measure R2 we called it.  Move LA began meeting with constituency groups around LA County to discuss how an expanded project priority list might look.  The new priorities were reflected in an evolving proposed expenditure program, what Move LA called the “Strawman”. Ultimately, Move LA submitted “Strawman #53” to Metro staff as input in the planning process for a new measure.   Thus, Move LA initiated an early effort to launch the Measure M campaign, hiring Eli Lipmen to work on the effort. 

Meanwhile, Mayor  Garcetti had recruited Phil Washington from Denver to serve as LA Metro CEO. Phil had a national reputation for getting big stuff done in Denver and he turned out to be the guy who could do likewise in Los Angeles.  Phil turned the Mobility Matrix process and the Strawman process into a proposal for a second half-cent sales tax measure for 2016.  This measure would significantly expand the list of subway and light rail projects all around the county, expand the operating dollars available for both bus and rail systems and incorporate significant investments in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in virtually every category of spending.  This would enable Measure M to win support from leaders in virtually every community of the county.  But this measure would have no term limit and it would remove the 30-year term limit on Measure R, having both measure continue until voters choose to repeal them.  

Soon after hiring Phil Washington, Mayor Garcetti became the measure’s primary champion and Measure M was placed on the November 2016 ballot.  Mayor Garcetti was an especially effective champion for the new measure both as a public voice and as the primary fundraiser.  

Notably, his efforts and Move LA were together able to convince the American Association of Retired Persons to become a major champion of Measure M.  AARP spent over $1 M on an independent expenditure campaign asserting why the transit investments in Measures R and M together would make a big difference in the lives of senior citizens.  

And voters rewarded us all and LA Metro with a 71.15% Yes vote.  

The terms of Measure M meant that it and Measure R each had no term limit.  Together they were projected to generate over $120 M over 30 years – and much more beyond 30 years.  This year, 2023, each of Measure R and Measure M are projected to yield $1.2 B, meaning almost $2.5 B together.  

These measures together will provide LA County with a voter approved permanent endowment for transit and transportation modernization, just as an earlier generation had done with the approvals of half-cent sales taxes, Proposition A (1980) and Proposition C (1990). 

One important difference:  Measure R & M needed 2/3 voter approval;  Proposition A & C each needed a simple majority vote.