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Road Sage

County opposes sales tax hike but puts it on the ballot

August 13, 2008|Steve Hymon | Times Staff Writer

Reversing course from only a week ago, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 2 on Tuesday to put a sales tax increase for mass transit and road projects on the Nov. 4 ballot.

However, the board also voted 3 to 2 to officially oppose the measure.

Confused? Hey, it's local politics.

First, the ballot issue.

Last month, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board voted to put a half-cent sales tax increase on the general election ballot.

But last week, the supervisors -- three of whom say the sales tax wouldn't spread money evenly across the county -- refused to put the initiative on the regular ballot.

Instead, they forced the sales tax onto a supplemental ballot.

However, after learning that a supplemental ballot would cost county taxpayers an additional $10 million, Supervisor Don Knabe said he would change his vote, even though he continued to oppose the sales tax increase.

On Tuesday, Knabe followed through with that promise and was joined by Supervisors Yvonne B. Burke and Zev Yaroslavsky to put the sales tax on the regular ballot.

Knabe was one of three supervisors -- including Mike Antonovich and Gloria Molina -- who voted to take an official position against the sales tax increase.

It's a symbolic move, but one that could resonate during a fall campaign.

It means that three of the most powerful politicians in the county will probably be campaigning against the sales tax.

Here's the key excerpt from the motion calling for opposition:

"Unfortunately, this ordinance was not crafted with countywide consensus nor does it provide an acceptable standard of long-term equity for all regions of Los Angeles County which will be paying this new sales tax."

Of course, all this could be for naught.

The Legislature still must approve a companion bill that would allow the sales tax to go to the voters.

The bill is stuck in the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is scheduled to vote on it Thursday. If the committee kills the bill, no sales tax measure will be on the ballot come November.

The city of Los Angeles' Board of Taxicab Commissioners this week OKd a rate increase of about 10%.

The drop charge is now $2.85 for the first one-ninth of a mile and it's $2.70 per mile thereafter.

The flat rate for trips between Los Angeles International Airport and downtown goes from $42 to $46.50, with a $15 minimum.

The flat fare between John F. Kennedy International Airport and Manhattan, by the way, is $45, according to the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission.

The commuter rail service Caltrain, which connects San Jose and San Francisco, released its bike parking plan this week.

About 8% of Caltrain riders arrive at stations by bike. The report concentrates on improving access to stations and, specifically, offering more types of bike parking at the 10 most popular stations.

Meanwhile, regular Bottleneck Blog reader Bob Huddy sent us a photo showing the deplorable, embarrassing and pathetic bike parking situation at the Lake Avenue Gold Line station in Pasadena.

Cyclists have to lock their bikes to anything they can find at the entrance to this station, which is located on a bridge over the freeway (hospitable for cars, not people).

Huddy also wrote that a friend of his recently had two bikes stolen there in a space of two weeks.

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steve.hymon@latimes.com

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Times staff writer Garrett Therolf contributed to this report.

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