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South Bay voters could be Measure M’s demise

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Opposition to Metro’s ballot measure is brewing in and around the beach cities

In just one month voters in Los Angeles County will decide the fate of nearly half a century’s worth of funding for public transportation in the area. Measure M, a half-cent sales tax hike that would pay for a dramatic increase in Metro’s service area, will be on the ballot November 8.

Metro has laid out an ambitious plan of expansion to entice voters from throughout the county to pass the Measure M sales tax increase. But the ballot measure needs a two-thirds majority to pass, and according to the Los Angeles Times, South Bay voters might prevent that from happening.

While some communities in Los Angeles have Measure M funds earmarked for speedy completion of ambitious new transit projects, leaders of many South Bay cities say they’re being left behind and left footing the bill. The problem for Metro? Nearly one-third of likely voters in this November’s election live in the South Bay area, according to the Times.

Only four years ago Metro saw its last attempt at passing a funding ballot measure fail by less than one percent, and a lack of South Bay support could have made the difference. UC Berkeley professor Ethan Elkind tells the Times, "these taxes pass or fail on the razor’s edge."

Some officials, including Jacki Bacharach of the South Bay Cities Council of Governments, say Metro is prioritizing projects in the city of Los Angeles over smaller communities.

The only Measure M transit project that Metro has planned for the South Bay is an extension of the Green Line to Torrance. If passed, $619 million in Measure M funds would be allocated to extending that light rail line 4.7 miles from Redondo Beach to the Torrence Transit Center. It would be another decade before construction would begin on the project.

According to a Metro fact sheet, South Bay cities would also stand to gain $625.6 million in Measure M funding for several highway construction projects, $500 million in highway operational improvement costs, and $2.8 billion in local return revenue over the next 40 years that would go towards street improvements, pothole repairs, and other upkeep costs.

About 10 South Bay cities are also funding a Measure M "educational campaign" to discourage residents from voting for the measure.

"Yes on Measure M" spokesman Yusef Robb paints a rosier picture of ballot measure’s chances. Robb tells the LA Times that South Bay residents are supporting Measure M "in some of the highest levels we’ve seen."