Will the streetcars return to a revitalized downtown?
Proponents claimed victory last night after the L.A. City Clerk reported that a special measure to fund the old-timey transportation was winning 73 percent in favor to 27 percent opposed with nearly 2 in 10 registered locals turning in their ballots.
The special mail-in election for downtown voters will probably mean that the streetcar project will get …
… $62.5 million in local funding, about half what's need to get the thing built, according to L.A. Streetcar Inc., the nonprofit booster group behind the project.
The City Clerk's results were unofficial.
Streetcar Inc. said it was over, however, with its general counsel, Shiraz Tangri, stating:
We found that the more people knew and understood the streetcar and why it's important for Downtown, the more strongly they supported the streetcar.
Here's how the group says it will be funded, at least in part:
At an estimated 5% bond rate, a 10,000 sq. ft. parcel will be taxed $4,490 if located directly on the proposed streetcar line; $3,640 if located one to two blocks away from the streetcar; and $1,730 if located approximately three blocks away. Condominium units will be charged their unit's proportional share of the underlying land, similar to the structure of most home owner association fees. The majority of condominium units within the streetcar CFD will be charged $100 or less per year, with a median cost of $60 annually – less than dinner out once a year, or one parking ticket that can be avoided by using the streetcar.
City Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents parts of downtown, adds:
Now that the people have spoken, Los Angeles is well on its way to bringing a modern streetcar back to Downtown Los Angeles. With this critically important local funding approved, we will now work closely with our Washington D.C. representatives to advocate for the federal funding needed for construction.
Boosters say the project could be worth 9,000 jobs and $1.1 billion in development for the area.
They say construction could begin in 2014 and that its possible you could be hopping on one of the cars by 2016.
L.A. once had the nation's leading streetcar system, at least until mid-century, when the mode became extinct. (The last car ran in 1963). Streetcar Inc:
… At its peak [L.A.'s system] traversed over 1,100 miles of track with 900 electric trolley cars; this dense network produced a rate of public transit usage higher than San Francisco does today on a per capita basis.