Measure R: Mayor Villaraigosa Asks Taxpayers to Keeping Funding His Subway Dreams

Will we see a "Subway to the Sea" in this lifetime -- or just pay for it?
Will we see a "Subway to the Sea" in this lifetime -- or just pay for it?

Were you one of thousands of Angelenos drooling over the fantasy L.A. subway map we rediscovered last week?

If so, here's your chance to make it a reality. (Sort of.) At his "State of the City" address tonight, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa reportedly plans to ask you, the voter, to make permanent a half-cent transportation tax that you already approved through 2039.

So really, you'd more be bestowing the tax onto all future generations of L.A. taxpayers...

... whether they like it or not.

The original Measure R was part of the mayor's ambitious plan to extend various subway lines throughout transit-challenged Los Angeles. He called it the "30/10" plan, because -- on the promise of 30 years' worth of Measure R revenue -- he could borrow the money from the federal government, and build in one decade what would normally take three.

Here's scary thing about that pipe dream: Without the federal loans Villaraigosa took for granted, we won't get the promised subway extensions until we're old and gray and the thought of taking the subway makes our false teeth chatter.

By extending Measure R indefinitely (until L.A. is taken out by global warming, aliens, robots or whatever -- a scene from "2012" or "Battle: Los Angeles" in which our entire rail infrastructure is uprooted in one explosive/expensive second), the mayor will apparently just be heaping more of our subway fantasies onto Washington's unpredictable funding whims.

Yay for invisible money!

Four years after we approved a half-cent tax on ourselves, the 30/10 loan is currently tied up in Congress, being eyed skeptically by Republicans who don't buy into Obama's make-it-rain attitude about any and all things green.

Then there's the question, locally, of whether a few more stops on the Metro rail system are really worth the billions we'll be pumping into them.

What about the beleaguered bus system -- the only current public transit option that can deliver a low-income worker from one end of sprawling L.A. County to the other? And what about the pockmarked roads and highways of L.A., whose cracks and potholes total lowriders and spill hot coffee on our collective lap daily?

"By continuing Measure R, we will be creating jobs, relieving highway congestion, and completing light rail and subway projects in one decade instead of three," Peter Sanders, head spokesman for Villaraigosa, tells the Los Angeles Times.

For one, the "relieving highway congestion" thing is completely unproven.

And for two, this sounds an awful lot like a concession that the 30/10 plan is not on track to fulfill the mayor's original promise -- unless we offer up more of our unborn children on a similarly flimsy promise this November.

How much more talking can this guy do without a little action?

[@simone_electra / / @LAWeeklyNews]

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