Los Angeles County announced Sunday that Measure J, a ballot proposition aiming to extend a half-cent sales tax benefiting transit projects until 2069, failed by only .56 percent.
The half-cent sales tax will remain in effect until 2039 because voters passed Measure R in 2008. Measure J, the extension of Measure R, needed 14,000 more votes to pass and would have helped expedite transit construction projects, including the creation of subway lines that extend to Westwood and Santa Monica.
Tax measures require a two-thirds majority to pass, and only 66.1 percent of voters were in favor of extending the measure.
Had Measure J passed, Metro would have had the ability to borrow against expected future revenue and accelerate current projects implemented under Measure R. It also would have required Metro break ground on 15 major transit and freeway projects in five years rather than 20.
“Fewer projects will be constructed and completed in the next 20 years because potential borrowing is limited to the expected revenues from the existing Measure R, which expires in 2039,” Genevieve Giuliano, a professor in the School of Public Policy and the director of the METRANS Transportation Center said.
Lindsey Khim, a freshman majoring in policy, planning and development, said she wished the measure had passed because she believes the projects make transportation around the city more convenient.
“I was so excited to come to school in L.A., but it’s so hard to get around,” Khim said. “I would have paid more taxes to extend the rail system.”
Current USC students and local residents, though, will not be directly affected as few projects would have been completed in the near future, Giuliano said.
“Still, residents of Los Angeles county in the 2020s and 2030s will have less public transit infrastructure than if Measure R had been extended,” he said.
Another proposed use of the extra revenue was to keep student fares on transit low.
“Even though the Metro is kind of limited, it’s a really easy, cheap way to get to places like L.A. Live,” Khim said. “Raising the fares a lot might make my friends and I look for other options.”
This might not be the last time voters see such a measure on the ballot. Metro released a statement Monday confirming they may pursue the measure in the future.
“Metro directors have the option of asking voters in the future if they wish to extend the program,” according to the statement.
In response to the election results, Metro said the organization is undeterred and will continue pursuing future projects.
“Nearly 2 million Los Angeles County residents, expressed confidence in Metro and the Measure R program,” according to Metro’s statement. “Progress will continue as Metro remains focused on delivering a dozen new transit projects.”