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Downtown Streetcar Moving: Residents Will Vote on Tax

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The City Council approved a special mail-in ballot this fall that will put the proposed Downtown streetcar to a vote, according to a press release from the group Bringing Back Broadway. That means Downtown residents will be allowed to weigh in on a tax that will cover about half of the project's $125 million budget (about $11 million is in the bank and about $50 million is being sought from the feds). The streetcar route will travel from LA Live, up from Figueroa, across Seventh, north on Hill, east on First, south on Broadway, then west on Eleventh and back to LA Live. Recently, streetcar officials axed a small section of the line that would have brought riders directly to the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Music Center. The Grand spur could happen later, but City Councilmember Jose Huizar told the Downtown News that budget issues, as well as grade issues related to Grand's steep incline make that stretch more complicated. Also playing into that decision is that public properties can't be taxed, and that's pretty much all that's near Grand and First.

The Council's vote today created a Community Facilities District, which will enable the mail-in ballot. If the assessment passes, business owners would be taxed based on their property's land area and its proximity to the line (if you operate a business in DTLA but live outside, you won't be able to vote on the matter). The taxes for business owners will range "from 45-cents a square foot for properties located directly along the streetcar line to 32-cents for properties one to two blocks away, and 16-cents three blocks away. At the likely bond rate of 5 percent, a 10,000 square foot parcel directly on the streetcar line would pay $4,940 a year. That size property one to two blocks away would pay $3,460 and $1,730 if located three blocks away."

And for condo owners? "Payments will vary per building, depending on how close a property is to the streetcar line, how many units are in the building, and the size of units. For instance a 1,000 square foot condo in the Eastern Columbia building on Broadway would be charged $61.12 per year. A similarly sized unit at Pegasus Apartments on Flower Street would be charged $41.05 annually. A 1,000 square foot unit at City Loft on Spring Street would be charged $75.35 per year, and $96.14 at Elleven Lofts on Grand Avenue. A similarly sized unit at the Ritz Carlton Residences would be charged $102.10."

If it's any incentive, the streetcars in Portland and Seattle brought oodles of investment and development (not to mention higher property values). But who knows whether people will be willing to tax themselves for that in 2012. Ballots will be mailed out in mid-November.

· Streetcar Route Reduced [Downtown News]
· Downtown Streetcar Archives [Curbed LA]
· Go LA Streetcar [Official Site]