City Council Adopts Complex Plan to Lobby for a Metro Extension to WeHo

West Hollywood will consider putting a measure to raise the city’s sales tax on the ballot as early as June as part of a complex strategy to get the L.A. County Metropolitan Transit Authority to include the city in its west side rail extension plans.

Metro LineThe measure, proposed by Councilmember John Duran, was approved by the Council in a four-to one-vote, with Mayor Lindsey Horvath voting no. The Council also voted last night to appropriate $200,000 to hire consultants to organize and implement a lobbying effort to build support for a light-rail extension to WeHo.

The city has been pushing for such an extension for years. In 2010 it hired a lobbyist to try to convince the MTA to add a WeHo spur to the planned extension of the Purple Line. Two options the MTA considered in its Purple Line expansion study included an extension of the Red Line from the Purple Line’s Hollywood/Highland station into or near West Hollywood. That extension would run under Santa Monica Boulevard with stops at La Brea, Fairfax and San Vicente and a station near the Beverly Center. The MTA decided both of those options would cost more than it would receive from a half-cent increase in the L.A. County sales implemented in 2009 to fund the Metro expansion. The consultant hired by the city would organize local businesses and residents and civic and government leaders to press the MTA to consider connecting the Metro Red Line to West Hollywood and as well as its Crenshaw/LAX northern extension, which would provide easy access to the airport.

The first section of the Purple Line extension already is under construction, funded by a half-cent increase in the sales tax approved by voters in 2008 along with federal grants and loans. Now Metro must find funding for the final two sections of the project. In October, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that will allow the MTA to put a measure on the ballot that would raise the overall sales tax in L.A. County, now 9%, to 9.5%, with the additional revenue going to fund its expansion plans. Because of the nature of the measure, it would require a two-thirds vote to pass.

Duran noted that the State of California has an overall cap of 10% on sales taxes. Of that, 7.5% goes to the state and 1.5% goes to the County of Los Angeles, with some portion of that revenue used to fund local programs. If West Hollywood residents were to approve an increase in the sales tax rate, pushing it closer to the 10% limit, the MTA would be limited in the sales tax increase it could seek to fund its rail expansion programs. Thus, Duran reasoned, it would be more likely to negotiate with West Hollywood to receive some of its tax increase revenue and extend its line into WeHo.

“This is the window of opportunity, and it will close,” Duran said. “Either we will be in it or we will be out of it.” Duran also noted that the money raised by the tax increase could be used for other purposes if the city is unable to strike a deal with the MTA. For example, said Councilmember John D’Amico, it could be used to fund affordable housing.

John Leonard, the city’s head of revenue management, said a sales tax increase of .25% would generate about $4 million in revenue for West Hollywood in its first year. Sales revenue in the city typically grows 4% a year, and a city staff report said that means such an increase could generate $175 million over 30 years.

The Council voted in June to support Metro placing its sales tax increase measure on the ballot next year, likely during the November general election. If West Hollywood were to put a measure before voters before that, it would have to get the support of at least two-thirds of them for it to pass.

Horvath said she couldn’t support Duran’s proposal because she feared it would be seen negatively by the county officials with whom the city is trying to negotiate for support for a Metro extension into WeHo. “I think this presents challenges to building relationships,” she said.


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mike dunn
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Unfornunately I do not think the West Hollywood Red Line connection bus as scheduled will be a sucess. Both MTA Lines 217 and 780 serve the station and proceed southbound on Fairfax thru West Hollywood. It’s ashamed the MTA killed the original One Line that ran down Hollywood Bl. to Fairfax and then Westbound on Santa Monica Bl. to Century City. Good planning is not the MTA’s forte. We used to have a Bus Line from West Hollywood clear to LAX and Marina Del Rey. It now only runs from the Beverly Center to Culver City.

Jonathan Simmons
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Jonathan Simmons

$200,00 to hire a CONSULTANT! (not an actual Lobbyist, but a consultant to fine one??) HOW ABOUT DUMPING THIS IDEA but redirecting the $200,000 the City has for a “sky dream” and FULLY FUND A REGULAR ALL DAY TROLLEY BUS DIRECTLY TO THE REDLINE STATION. I personally would like to see the trolley service, and it would really make a statement about our city and values if every trolley played a loop of JUDY GARLAND singing “THE TROLLEY SONG” What could be grater – and more realistic use of this $200,000 sitting around in a city so in need of… Read more »

SaveWeho
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SaveWeho

@ Mike Dunn. That’s actually something worth investigating. Although its been 40-50 years…too bad there wasn’t some kind of ensurance for those cities along the proposed SMB freeway. However many cities (including Weho residents) opposed it. This is a good article about it from KCET. Its a shame because the lack of transportation along this corridor is a big part of why we are in such a mess now. A light rail along SMB from the beach to downtown should be of utmost importance.

http://www.kcet.org/updaily/socal_focus/history/la-as-subject/why-isnt-there-a-freeway-to-beverly-hills.html

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

Mayor Hovath’s concerns are not ill founded. The decisions regarding subway expansion, which we all hold dear, will necessarily have to take into concerns all of the citizens of the County. While a spur up San Vicente is certainly a financially prudent option, we are not likely to see a line along Santa Monica simply because it will not be a fiscally viable nor the best use of Metro funds. But when the City starts receiving an additional $4 million in revenue, it is unlikely that it will give it up, even for a subway. Furthermore, our City Manager is… Read more »

mike dunn
Guest

If the MTA intends to extend the politically evolved Crenshaw line to Hollywood and Highland Red Line Station no matter which route is picked much of it will have to be underground. Currently the north terminus is being built underground adjacent to the street level Expo Line. The published reason being Crenshaw Bl. is to narrow to be running much of it’s route at street level. So once it reaches Venice Bl. the old P.E. right of way could be re-established and the line could run to ether San Vicente Bl. then turn north or to La Brea Ave and… Read more »

Randy
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Randy

Yes, whatever the city can do to try and get a subway or light rail (which seems easier to pull off, and faster to build). The problem, as I understand it, is with where the voters live. The majority of voters in our district live in the valley, and even with their vote to increase the sales tax in 2008, money was appropriated to other Metro projects, such as the Orange line. They have no interest in relieving congestion on SMB, or into making this a car-less community. It doesn’t affect them. It is sad that these variables have resulted… Read more »

Todd Bianco
Guest

If the City is looking for additional revenue, we all know that it’s coming in waves over the next few years. The City’s transient occupancy tax (the hotel tax) is currently 12.5%. Add 1/2 percent to that rate to make it 13%. There are a bunch of new, expensive hotels coming online in 2016, 2017 and beyond. The LA Times just reported that The Edition hotel up on Sunset @ Doheny just got financing. There is another proposed hotel at Sunset @ Hammond. There is a hotel planned for the Hustler site on Sunset @ Hilldale. The two hotels on… Read more »

Lynn
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Lynn

We’ll soon need to change all the signage in town to West Hotelwood. Lol!

Dave Atkins
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Dave Atkins

There was an odd juxtaposition in my reading of this article today and my reading about a delivery driver being shot in an ongoing series of armed robberies in West Hollywood. So the City debates our taxing ourselves higher to extort the MTA into promising an extension of a line into the City before we repeal it, so that we can stop the other citizens of the County from adding more to their sales taxes to raise enough money to do some good for the far more underserved areas of the County. This as my daily walk from Fuller Ave… Read more »

Lynn
Guest
Lynn

Far behind? That is such an understatement it would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic. Los Angeles has its dreamy concepts in the 21st century but it’s head and feet are stuck in the 19th and early 20th c. The fact that such exponential development could have been conceived without suitable infrastructure and sophisticated transportation measures on the boards shows incompetence at a high level. We have become the poster child for “hunt and peck”planning in this area and execution by “2 guys and a bucket of tar”. Perhaps emergency implementation funds should come from all new development and… Read more »

David Reid
Guest

A city with $100,000,000+ surplus needs to raise $4 million extra in taxes?
If they are short on funds compel airbnb to collect bed taxes for all the units in WeHo.

C.R.
Guest
C.R.

We are so far behind where we should be in 2015 in Los Angeles and in particular the West Side with transportation. Whatever it takes to get the subway into West Hollywood as soon as possible should be supported. The Los Angeles and West Hollywood of the future will be great, but fixing the gridlock and transportation issues is key and the subway access is essential. Make it happen!

Brian Holt
Guest
Brian Holt

Let’s see, we want to raise taxes “in the hope” we’ll be able to convince the County/Metro to add us to their plan. Don’t see it happening. Not gonna happen. Nope. Sad, but true. It’d be one thing if it was a sure bet. But a gamble? Nah. Thank you, Mayor Horvath.

Sam
Guest
Sam

I live in studio city but travel to weho/mid town all the time. I was thinking the great option for a subway would be something going from laurel canyon / ventura blvd in the valley, and then going under the hills and following fairfax all the way down to wilshire. Another line that would be more weho focused would be a line with stops 1. highland/hollywood 2. sunset /crescent heights 3. santa monica / la cienega 4. melrose/ la cienega 5. beverly blvd / la cienega 6. san vicente / la cienega 7. wilshire / la cienega. Either or both… Read more »