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Light Rail of Benefit to Few

May 27, 1988

I was dismayed to read "Transit Planners Misled by Light Rail Foes, 2 Charge" (May 13).

Perhaps Roger Stanard and his fellow supporters of light rail are unaware that a special assessment district will likely accompany light rail and will impose a tax on residential property situated near light rail terminals.

The justification for the special tax is that homeowners near the terminals would enjoy the primary benefit from the light rail, so they should bear the brunt of its costs. But that is no justification at all. It instead indicates the limited utility of the proposed system.

If light rail will benefit such a small handful of homeowners that a special tax on them alone is justified, then it is obviously of such limited utility to Los Angeles that we don't need it. And that's assuming those homeowners use light rail, which is doubtful.

Light rail should be implemented only if it will benefit the entire city and, if it does, the entire city should bear its costs.

Interestingly, no similar tax is imposed on property near other public facilities such as LAX, freeways, public libraries or parks, even though the logic is the same. The ridiculous nature of such taxes would be so obvious that no politician would dare support them. Why is light rail any different?

I wonder if Mr. Stanard and other supporters will use light rail if it's built. Probably not. The true support for light rail comes not from San Fernando Valley residents but from Warner Center business interests. They alone will benefit from a train's leading to their doorstep.

Anyone who lives in the Valley and works in Los Angeles knows the current situation is intolerable and something must be done. But light rail, with a special tax assessment district, is NOT the answer. Let's instead spend our taxes on solving the terrible traffic problems we face.



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