The record will indicate that the city of La Cañada Flintridge supported Measure M, the half-cent sales tax increase to raise money for transportation projects.
But it wasn’t full-fledged support at Tuesday’s City Council meeting: Mayor Jonathan Curtis was joined by council members Michael Davitt and Terry Walker in voting to support the measure as a city. Dave Spence and Len Pieroni voted against proclaiming such support after first making a motion, unsuccessfully, to take no vote on the item at all.
“I don’t think we as a council need to tell our residents how to vote,” Spence said. “They’re smart enough to look at the pros and cons on the ballot measure, and I think we should let them make up their own minds.”
Walker countered that the city’s support would send an important message to Metro and Caltrans, the groups with which LCF and other cities have been dealing on the contentious prospect of a tunnel connecting the 710 Freeway.
With pressure from LCF and other opponents of the proposed tunnel project, Measure M was written to read, in part: “No net revenues generated from the sales tax shall be expended to the State Route 710 North Gap Closure Project.” Considering that, Walker suggested LCF could gain by expressing its approval.
“Sometimes I get comments that La Cañadans live up here on the hillside in our ivory towers and don’t give a darn about the rest of the region,” she said. “I don’t believe that, but I believe that that’s the perception sometimes. In supporting Measure M, we are demonstrating that we do care about regional improvements.”
As explained by LCF Division Manager Ann Wilson, LCF would likely receive $67 million over 40 years via its membership in the Arroyo Verdugo Mobility subregion, as well as annual local return allocations that would begin at $292,544 in 2017 and rise each year until 2040.
The measure, Wilson explained, adds a half-cent in sales tax on top of Measure R until 2039, at which point Measure R ends. At that point, Measure M’s one-half cent will becomes a full cent, effectively continuing the Measure R rate indefinitely.
Since its passage in 2008, Measure R money has been used by LCF to fund $10 million of the original $45-million sound wall project, as well as other local improvements.
Going forward, Measure M would help LCF fund the completion of the sound walls, as well as paying for traffic signal improvements and repair; resurfacing and reconstruction of roads and sidewalks; and bike and pedestrian projects, Wilson said.
City governments in South Pasadena and Pasadena also approved resolutions in support of the measure, while Glendale and Burbank have not weighed in, Wilson said.
“Nobody wants more taxes,” Walker said. “But the impacts regionally will improve traffic conditions for our commuters … and, hopefully, ease some of the traffic congestion we have on the 210 Freeway that goes through our city.”
“What I’ve learned over the years is you can’t tax your way out of a problem,” Spence countered. “To me, it’s extremely bad public policy to vote for a tax increase, and it’s forever — that alone will make me not vote to support this resolution.”
Davitt echoed those concerns, saying, “I’m troubled by this because it has no sunset on it. Even though we don’t want it to go to the 710, this money goes into this big hole. So, from a philosophical standpoint, I really do have a difficult time with this. But that being said, I do think that transportation is one of the critical issues, if not the critical issue for the county.
“We can’t live in a bubble,” he added. “This affects our community and residents. They commute and we need to be more active on that forefront, so reluctantly I’d support this.”
FIRE INSPECTOR IMPERSONATORS
Beware of people impersonating fire inspectors making the rounds locally, Stephanie English, L.A. County Fire Department spokeswoman, warned at Tuesday’s meeting.
“Some so-called fire inspectors are going to businesses and presenting themselves as official,” English said. “And sometimes it appears they’re presenting themselves rudely.”
She said the fraudulent actors often also try to charge for inspections — which is something no legitimate fire prevention officer will do. She suggested the imposters also might be casing businesses with the intent to burglarize them.
“Fire prevention officers do go out and do inspections, annually or bi-annually,” she said. “But they’ll always be in an L.A. County Department uniform, with a badge with a bear on it and a last name on a nameplate on the uniform.
“And if it’s not a convenient time, they’ll be happy to come back another time. They do not always schedule inspections, but certainly they would behave professionally and be accommodating to residents and business owners.”