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L.A.'s "Save Our Streets" Tax Increase Abandoned

L.A.'s "Save Our Streets" Tax Increase Abandoned
Honora Talbott/YouTube

Perhaps wary of suggesting that Angelenos pay even higher sales taxes than they already do, two L.A. City Council members announced they're walking away from a proposal to put a half-cent sales-tax hike before voters in order to help pay for repairs to our crumbling streets and sidewalks.

See also: L.A.'s Failed Streets: City Hall Wonks Seek Sales Tax Hike on Residents

If voters went for it, it could have meant tax of 9.5 cents on the dollar instead of today's 9 cents.

Although Mayor Eric Garcetti wasn't yet for or against it, he could have used it to bolster his "back to basics" agenda that includes making everyday life smoother for Angelenos - in this case, literally:

The 15-year tax increase, technically proposed by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana and Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller, would have raised a much-needed $4.5 billion to, as council members Joe Buscaino and Mitch Englander put it, "Save Our Streets."

Buscaino and Englander were the leaders most allied with the tax initiative (they proposed fixing 8,200 miles of roadway), but yesterday both backed off, with Buscaino saying that, after taking some time to think about it, there's not enough time, and this needs time:

After thoughtful and careful consideration, we have decided this November is not the best time to place the Save our Streets LA (SOSLA) measure on the ballot.

The City of Los Angeles is facing an infrastructure crisis, which will require an investment in the billions of dollars - not only in our streets, but in our sidewalks and stormwater system as well. Before asking voters to open their wallets, we owe it to them to thoroughly and exhaustively explore all options, and to ensure that we are maximizing the use of every tax dollar we receive by operating as efficiently as possible.

See also: Video Spoofs Sorry State of L.A.'s Sidewalks

Englander hasn't really explained his cold feet, only to say that it was clear infrastructure funding took a hit during the recession and needed to be addressed. He had this to say:

 ... The single biggest impediment [to maintaining infrastructure] was dedicated, continuous funding, sufficient to keep pace and address the massive backlog. The sources that we have depended on have been reduced, are restrictive, or have disappeared entirely, leaving a larger and larger gap for which the only eligible backfill source was the General Fund. After several years of recession and limited recovery, the competition for funding with other core responsibilities like police and fire services, parks and libraries has grown stiffer, with infrastructure often taking a backseat.

While work on the SOSLA [Save Our Streets Los Angeles] proposal is terminated, I am proud of the excellent policy recommendations that came out of the process ... 

Interestingly, a poll found that Angeleno voters probably would have passed the sales tax increase . Go figure.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.