West Hollywood's been looking to hop on the light rail train for years now, but its latest push to get a subway extension into its borders is starting to get serious. Yesterday, the West Hollywood City Council approved a measure that would let it raise the sales tax "as part of a complex strategy" to be part of Metro's future rail expansion plans, WeHoville reports, and they might put it to a public vote by June. City officials also voted to give $200,000 to consultants to start lobbying for support for light rail into WeHo at the same meeting. WeHo's consultant would work to build support for an extension of the Red Line into WeHo and to the Crenshaw Line, which would link West Hollywood up to LAX.
Metro's already planning to put a measure on the 2016 ballot that would raise the overall sales tax in LA County from its current 9 percent up to 9.5 percent. now 9%, to 9.5%, with the added cash going toward funding more rail. So how would a sales tax increase in West Hollywood make Metro more open to putting an extension there? WeHo Councilmember John Duran, who proposed the strategic measure, laid it out like this:
"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."
The thinking is that limiting the increase Metro could get on its own for rail would put the agency in the mood to negotiate with WeHo, both for some of its sales tax revenue and on a possible extension into its borders. Pretty tricky! The suggestion of a spur of the Purple Line extension into WeHo via La Cienega or San Vicente had been entertained when the line (the first section of which is now under construction on Wilshire Boulevard) was in the planning stages, but the idea was scrapped because of its exorbitant price tag.
· City Council Adopts Complex Plan to Lobby for a Metro Extension to WeHo [Wehoville]
· West Hollywood Determined to Get In On All This Rail Action [Curbed LA]
· Pink Line Dreams: WeHo Hires Lobbyist to Get Some Subway Action [Curbed LA]