MTA to Bond $10.2B with $0 for Crenshaw Subway or Leimert Park Village Station

UPDATE 1:00 PM: At today’s meeting, the MTA board passed the motion, without any resources dedicated to the Crenshaw-LAX Line. The law requires the agency to first provide public notice about their proposed action, before they can vote to approve it. The vote to approve it is expected at their June 27 meeting.

A key item on today’s MTA board meeting is the acceleration of all MTA transit and highway projects currently on track to be built in the 2020s and 2030s by bonding against future tax revenues. By using this financing plan the MTA board would make available $10.2 billion in public funds to build transportation projects. Not one penny of the $10.2 billion would go towards the Leimert Park Village station, or tunnel in Park Mesa Heights. At the MTA board today, we’ll both highlight this injustice and suggest a remedy. The following is our email to MTA Board sent this morning:

Members of the MTA Board:

As you are well aware, a key item on today’s MTA board meeting agenda is an plan to accelerate the construction of transit and highway projects by bonding against anticipated future revenues (Prop A, C, and Measure R among others). Page 28 of the staff report (pdf) specifies the total amount of funding made available through bonding at $10.2 billion. And as specified on page 12 & 13 NOT ONE PENNY of the $10.2 billion is dedicated to undergrounding the Crenshaw-LAX Line on Crenshaw Blvd from 48th-59th or adding a subway station at Leimert Park Village. In fact, of the $10.2B NOT ONE PENNY is to be spent in any part of South L.A., and the project that will be the biggest single recipient is the SUBWAY extension in Zev Yaroslavsky’s Westside district.

It is proposed actions like this (which comes just a month after the L.A. City Council allocated $354 million of Measure R local return dollars for the Downtown LA Party trolley) made in the context of our struggle on the Crenshaw-LAX Line that feeds the passionate distrust, overall sense of disrespect and perception of inequity that frankly has led to the horrid perception of Mayor Villaraigosa and the MTA board in the South LA and Black LA community. It is why we scoff when continually told, “There’s no money” for what the Crenshaw community requests on the Crenshaw-LAX Line.

How does our community and our interests – which are undoubtedbly unique and critical – the preservation and enhancement of the LAST black business corridor in the region – continue to get left out of these MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR discussions?

How does this board, which is filled with people who stand on the shoulders of giants in the civil rights movement, continue to perpetrate such injustice?

As I’m sure you recall, a large segment of Los Angeles County’s African-American community and leadership opposed a similar, but far more costly bond-to-accelerate plan in the recent election, Measure J. We opposed the measure not because we were against transit expansion – not by any stretch of the imagination – but rather because we were being cut out of a $90 billion dollar allocation of public funds, despite our clear and vocal request for resources to underground 0.9-mile on Crenshaw Blvd and add station at Leimert Park Village – the African-American cultural center of Southern California. The highest estimate for these two additions to the Crenshaw-LAX Line would have amounted to less than 1/2 of 1% of $90 billion, yet we still were ignored, we were left out – so we voted no, we told our people to vote no, and in collaboration with other disaffected communities and groups we helped defeat the measure.

I write this email this morning to each of you, and will be present at this morning’s board meeting to request from the podium, a solution to this unfortunate problem: amend the motion/pass the motion contingent on an additional $300 million being directed to the Crenshaw-LAX Line for both undergrounding the rail line from 48th to 59th Street on Crenshaw Blvd, and adding a station at Leimert Park Village.

At worst this is a 3% re-allocation or increase of the $10.2 billion. Given that South LA taxpayers will be required to pay for the costs of these bonds, South LA should see a direct benefit in the form of a Crenshaw-LAX Line that is completely underground on Crenshaw Blvd and with a subway station at Leimert Park Village. These two changes will transform the Crenshaw-LAX Line into an asset to the community by spawning the economic revitalization sought for generations and dating back to leaders such as Julian Dixon and Tom Bradley. Clearly far more is due to our community, which has a high transit dependency rate, a large segment of transit riders, and is in its condition today because of historic public disinvestment.

If the language of the motion can’t be worked out at the horseshoe today, I recommend you delay this item to the next MTA board meeting on May 23rd, where hundreds of my friends will be present to see your discussion in person.

Finally, in full disclosure, the attempt by any of you (or NONE of you) to amend this gross inequity today, and to right the greatest threat to the economic present and future of Los Angeles’ last black business corridor will be widely circulated (beginning first with the Crenshaw Subway Coalition multi-thousand person newsletter) and I’m sure will affect the sentiments conveyed by the bus loads of people who are preparing to #SwarmMTA on May 23rd when the contract for the Crenshaw-LAX is awarded. I’ll be sure to video record your decision on my iPhone and upload it to our YouTube page and where possible tweet the conversation at CrenshawSubway on Twitter so that we can highlight it for the community at our May 2nd meeting at Christ Temple Church – 3125 W. 54th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90043.

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