Los Angeles — Downtown Streetcar Tax Approved
Voters in November approved a downtown tax to raise $85 million for the planned downtown streetcar, according to the ladowntownnews.com site. The proposal required a two-thirds majority to pass and easily exceeded that margin by attracting 73% of votes in favor.
While the vote permits taxing property owners up to $85 million, streetcar proponents say the total to be collected will be less. They plan to raise $62.5 million over 30 years to cover half the capital cost of the project. The $23 million not used for construction will cover the cost of issuing bonds and unexpected construction cost increases, according to Shiraz Tangri, the general counsel for Los Angeles Streetcar Inc.
"It's been a long road. We're not across the finish line yet but we certainly are as close as we've ever been," Rick Coca, spokesman for 14th District City Councilman José Huizar was quoted as saying. The councillor has made the streetcar a centerpiece of his decade-long "Bringing Back Broadway" campaign.
The streetcar line would connect L.A. Live to the Civic Center, with Broadway serving as a key part of the route.
Property owners could pay as much as 16 to 45 cents per square foot, with the highest rates for those right along the route.
The average condominium owner would pay about $60 per year, with the majority of residential units taxed less than $100 annually. Commercial building owners would face much higher totals.
Raising half the funds for the project in the private sector is a vital step toward obtaining $52 million from the federal government for the project ($10 million was already obtained through the now-defunct Community Redevelopment Agency). The campaign for the mail-in ballot warned the project would die if voters failed to pass the tax.
The streetcar campaign was controvesial as only registered voters near the route could vote. Property owners could only vote if they also lived in the area.
Project supporters hope to see the line open by 2016.