One of the surprises for me over the last few months is how much I have learned to appreciate what the Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce does for our local community. One of their goals is to help inform the merchants, tenants and residents of the area about issues that they deal with in trying to improve the viability of this important cultural and business corridor in Los Angeles.
This past week they had an economic summit where the topics ranged from leasing agents as to why tenants are now moving into the area as well as some presentations by State Assembly member Mike Feuer and City Councilman Tom LeBonge. Their talks focused on work they had done for the area, but the greatest focus was on improving the traffic flow in Los Angeles, and down the Wilshire corridor in particular.
Immediate good news is that Councilman LeBonge has acquired the financing to re-pave Wilshire Blvd. this project is schedules to start very shortly and is expected to take about a month to complete. Wilshire Blvd has so many potholes and this is something that the Chamber has been working to get to happen and was very happy to hear it actually come to fruition.
But what I found a little more fascinating was the efforts going into the construction of the subway extension from downtown to the west side fo the 405 freeway that would follow Wilshire right through the Miracle Mile. In 2008 voters passed Measure R, a half cent sales tax to fund this subway and other transit projects (all so very needed for the city). It is set to run through 2039. Mayor Villaraigosa wants voters to extend the time of the tax. This is what would happen if voters did it.
If the time is extended it would allow the Transit department to borrow against future revenue. This would allow not only the subway but other transit projects to be completed in 10 years and not the 30 years that it is planning to take. It would lower the cost of building the subway significantly as there is less inflation to deal with. It would lower the unemployment rate of the state by at least one percent. And it would mean that the roads would be less crowded, it would be easier to get to downtown from the Westside and our air quality would improve. It could bring more business to the city. The only downside is that a future generation of riders would still be paying for the construction via the half cent tax.
I don’t know about you, but this is a no brainer in my mind. Could you imagine just walking to the subway at the corner of Fairfax and Wilshire and 12-15 minutes later being downtown, not needing to park a car and being able to get to the Staples Center or the new football stadium to be built. Los Angeles would finally have a great mass transit system. Bring it on.