Los Angeles officials talk proposed sales-tax hike to fix streets


They held a public briefing session Wednesday night to discuss the "Save Our Streets L.A." initiative, which is a half-cent sales tax increase to fix the city's worst streets.

Neighborhood councils, groups supporting green and clean streets, as well as advocates for the disabled made up a large part of the audience inside the Department of Public Works room. While most found it informative, they are not 100 percent behind the proposed tax increase.

"I think we're undecided. One of the things that we're looking for is whether the bond is going to build streets that basically are streets for the future, whether we're doing a 20-year program, what do our streets look like in 2035?" said Eric Bruins with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

Others know Los Angeles streets are in dire need of fixing, but do not think taxpayers should face more taxes.

"I don't think there's any question that the streets and the sidewalks need repair. But while they need repair, the question is how to finance it," said Jack Humphreville with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.

City officials say the additional tax would mean $25 to $30 a year for the average resident. The proposed tax would generate $4.5 billion over 15 years to fix all the eligible streets. Officials say jobs would also be created.

"You're looking at anywhere between 15,000 jobs, depending on how you do the calculation. Or if you actually look at it, but based on the Caltrans numbers, over the life of this project, it's 47,000 local jobs," said L.A. City Council President Pro-tem Mitchell Englander.

John Silva supports the tax increase if it means less out of pocket expenses in fixing his car because of crumbling streets.

"I've had a lot of tires blow out. I've driven through Silver Lake, and there's been some potholes that could take out a Land Rover. I mean, it's pretty terrible," said Silva. The City Council and the mayor still need to approve it before it makes it to the November ballot.

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