By Ted AYALA
Measure J, a ballot initiative intended to extend a half-cent tax for transportation projects until the 2060s, failed at the ballot box last month. Despite having earned over 66% support, the initiative was not able to surmount the two-thirds majority needed to enact the measure. But certain civic transportation projects still have a viable future thanks to funds accumulated by Measure R, which was passed in 2010.
Councilmember Ara Najarian explained the details to the Glendale City Council on Tuesday night. Najarian, who also serves on the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), made note of his ability to secure approximately $200 million regional equity funds for projects in the Arroyo Seco Region, which Glendale is a part of. Though the monies are designated for use for highway improvement projects, Najarian said that use of the funds can be more flexible.
“Not necessarily [for] highway [upgrades],” he said, “but for highway-connected access roads, ramps, and perhaps some express transit between the Gold Line and the Orange Line may be available.”
Najarian also urged the city to submit its transportation proposals to the MTA’s biennial call for projects.
“There is a wide range of projects,” said the councilmember, “and we should encourage staff to take a broad look at that and to apply for as many categories and projects as possible. City staff is certainly doing so at this point.”
Mayor Frank Quintero made mention that while Measure J did not pass with the supermajority required it still gained wide support among demographics dependent on public transportation.
“Low-income cities passed [it] with percentages in the [70% range],” he said. “But higher-income cities – and I hate to say other cities, but cities like San Marino and La Cañada – guess what? Nobody was interested in public transit.”
Both Najarian and Quintero noted that the measure passed above a two-thirds majority in the city of Glendale.
The mayor expressed his disappointment with the failure of the measure.
“So I think the fact that it barely missed, when you look at people that are transit-dependent, they sure were for it,“ he said. “It’s too bad that it didn’t pass, but it came very close.”
He then added, “I guess the high-income cities don’t want to give their maids a break.”