Victor Lindenheim: Measure M is a good deal

SCV Voices: Guest Commentary
SCV Voices: Guest Commentary

Supervisor Michael Antonovich is to be commended for ensuring that L.A. County Measure M, as proposed, includes a fair return on investment for Santa Clarita Valley communities.

About two years ago the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce was invited by the supervisor to coordinate an effort to identify the priority transportation needs of Santa Clarita and surrounding communities.

The SCV business community was represented by the Chamber with the participation of the SCV Economic Development Corporation and the Golden State Gateway Coalition.

With the help and participation of the supervisor’s office, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works and representatives of unincorporated communities, a consensus was reached.

A letter was sent to then-Metro Board Chairman Eric Garcetti describing the primary and secondary transportation priorities of the Santa Clarita Valley.

The result? Metro listened. It came up with a ballot proposal that offers most of what we asked for: funding for toll-free I-5 capacity improvements (a $784 million project with 30+ miles of new roadway) with a construction start accelerated by 20 years; an additional minimum of $3 million a year to the city of Santa Clarita for local roads; $2.6 million a year for bus operations; $1.2 billion available for Metrolink improvements over 40 years; $170 million toward right-of-way purchases for the High Desert Corridor/SR138 project; and much, much more in future program commitments and available grant opportunities.

Metro has not only made it a point to ask what the SCV wants and needs; it also addresses the obvious concern: how can we be sure that Metro will do what it says it will do?

Measure M is proposed as an ordinance. Every major project has a projected start date and a funding allotment spelled out. The plan for distribution of funds is in writing.

The investment? An additional half cent in sales tax on the dollar. The city of Santa Clarita has conservatively estimated that the Measure M plan will return more than 94 percent of the additional tax revenue it contributes – and that revenue includes sales tax contributions by visitors to Santa Clarita.

So Santa Clarita residents will see more than 100 percent of their Measure M sales tax revenue returned in the form of transportation improvements.

To quote Metro CEO Phil Washington: “No community gets everything it wants, but every community gets something it needs.”

And, to quote Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti: “If you like the way transportation goes now in L.A. County, don’t vote for Measure M.”

Why vote yes on Measure M? First, as noted above, it fundamentally gives us what we asked for and creates a sustainable funding source that allows us to plan, design, build, operate and maintain transportation infrastructure and amenities in our valley and the county for the foreseeable future.

And regarding the location of infrastructure investment returns, we need to think beyond our valley and our city limits: our residents’ transportation needs transcend municipal boundaries. Half our work force travels out of town to jobs.

Second, as Supervisor Antonovich pointed out in his Oct. 1 column in The Signal “Measure M is fair,” it is fair. I would go further and say that Measure M is a good deal for Santa Clarita based on an objective assessment of what we put in and what we get back.

Finally, there is no alternative on the horizon. Neither Congress nor the California Legislature has been able to develop sufficient and sustainable funding sources for the current and future transportation needs of the nation and the state, let alone the Santa Clarita Valley.

As a Signal columnist recently pointed out, sure, we want the best roads and the best schools and lower taxes. Good luck with that.

Again, transportation infrastructure costs money to design, build, operate and maintain. Our transportation infrastructure is aging – and maintaining safety and functionality have become urgent considerations.

So if traffic is your displeasure … then support the measure. Vote yes on Measure M.

Victor Lindenheim serves as co-chairman of the Government Affairs/Transportation Committee of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce and is executive director of the Golden State Gateway Coalition.

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