The mayoral candidates stopped by Move LA's 5th annual transportation conversation last February to join the conversation about:
• accelerating the Measure R funded transit construction program,
• reducing the local voter threshold to 55% to make it easier to win transportation funding measures that are placed on the ballot,
• ensuring that housing near stations remains affordable to high-propensity transit users, and
• Mayor Villaraigosa’s Transit Corridors Cabinet -- which is coordinating and focusing city policy and investment around new and existing stations in the city. (Currently there are 71 light rail and bus rapid transit stations in the city, with 42 new stations coming soon.)

We wanted to remind you of the commitments they made to the audience of 600, and show you the very short video clips posted on the left of our website. (In alphabetical order, Garcetti is first, Greuel next.)

Eric Garcetti said, “Yes, of course,” he is committed to reducing the voter threshold to 55% so that a majority vote can approve future transportation funding measures on the ballot – whereas the current 2/3 supermajority requirement means a minority vote of 1/3 decides. Four bills have been introduced in the California legislature this session to reduce the local voter threshold for transportation funding measures to 55%. And Garcetti said he would "carry on" the Transit Corridors Cabinet "because looking at the intersection between transit and community development is critical – even though these were segregated topics of conversation not so long ago.”

Wendy Greuel said, “Absolutely, yes,” as mayor she would support going back to the voters to get Measure J passed. Measure J, which would have extended the Measure R sales tax to enable LA Metro to finance an accelerated transit construction program, won a 66.1% of the vote but failed to win the required 2/3 supermajority last November. Gruel added that she was very pleased with the Transit Corridors Cabinet, noting that when the first segment of the Red Line opened back in the late 1990s “we weren’t even thinking about planning for development around stations. We can no longer afford to think that public transit is for somebody else and not for us,” she added. “And we need to ensure that all stakeholders are involved in redeveloping neighborhoods around stations."


Garcetti added that he believes we should also reduce the threshold for funding for affordable housing projects as well as transportation projects, noting that affordable housing projects near transit stations in his district helped revive the real estate market in Hollywood. The pending bill (SCA 11) that we favor, by Senator Lonnie Hancock, would enable cities or counties to put affordable housing funding measures as well as transportation measures on the ballot and to win with a 55% vote.

Garcetti asked the audience to consider what his district was like 10 years ago – when the neighborhood was overrun with prostitution, drugs, gang violence, and murder. While it is still the third poorest council district in LA, he notes that the revitalization around the three subway stations has been remarkable, much of it due to the construction of affordable housing enabling lower-income people to live near where they work instead of commuting from lower-cost neighborhoods and contributing to traffic congestion.

He notes that his district added 5% more jobs during the recession even as other districts lost jobs, and he cites important transit-oriented development projects like the W Hotel at Hollywood and Vine, “which provided living wage jobs, and offers luxury housing, middle-class apartments, and 25% affordable housing with no subsidy from the city.”


Greuel says she supports accelerating construction of Measure R funded transportation projects because she wants to see these improvements made “in my lifetime” – so that projects can support the taxpayers who will vote on whether to fund them as well as their children. She added that it’s critical that the City of LA work closely with LA Metro to make this region as competitive as possible for federal grants and other funding.

Greuel also said that while it’s important to build housing around stations it’s as critical to make sure there’s a jobs/housing balance so that that long commutes don’t contribute to the region’s notorious traffic congestion. People and businesses consider the problem of traffic when they made decisions about whether to move here, she says, “and we need investments in better streets and sidewalks, bus and rail – we need a seamless transportation system.”

She spoke briefly of working for former Mayor Tom Bradley, “who believed that we should have a public transportation system that works for everyone, and that no part of LA should be left behind when it comes to housing, transportation, public safety and social services.”

Note: Their responses were remarkably similar, which is interesting since neither heard the other’s response, suggesting that in fact these are the right answers to the questions!

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