Politics

Measure M: Metro's transit sales tax measure stays alive after lawsuit

File: A test train passes through the Northvale Trench between the 10 freeway and Overland Avenue along the new Expo Line extension on May 6, 2016.
File: A test train passes through the Northvale Trench between the 10 freeway and Overland Avenue along the new Expo Line extension on May 6, 2016.
Courtesy of Steve Hymon/Los Angeles Metro

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge rejected a claim by a group of South Bay cities Tuesday who say the language for Measure M, which proposes a sales tax increase for transportation projects, will mislead voters.

Come November, voters will be asked to vote "Yes" or "No" after reading a 75-word summary of various measures on the ballot, including Measure M. Those 75 words may be the only information some voters will base their decision on.

Carson Mayor Albert Robles told KPCC the language on the ballot misstates how much Measure M will cost.

"If you look at those 75 words, it says it's a half-cent increase. It implies that if you buy something that is $10, it's half a cent, if you buy something that's $100, it's half a cent. That is patently untrue. It's actually half a percent," he said. 
 
Those in opposition say a lack of transparency about the measure's costs prompted their lawsuit. The suit was filed by a group of cities, including Carson, Torrance, Palos Verdes, Norwalk, Commerce and Santa Fe Springs, among others. 

“We just want it to be clear to the voters what is it is they’re going to be voting on,” Robles said.  

State law requires certain measures, initiatives and propositions to present the annual cost of their provisions.

On Tuesday, the court rejected the cities' claim, stating that the the proposed tax raise was not specifically identified as an initiative measure and that, therefore, the state law did not apply. 

Yusef Robb works for the campaign on behalf of the initiative and called the lawsuit a political stunt. He told KPCC that if Angelenos approve the measure, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority would have the funding to extend transit lines all the way to the San Bernardino County line at Claremont, extending to LAX, Torrance and Artesia.

“We’re going to have a spiderweb of transportation lines [all over] L.A. County as well as specific investments in each of L.A. County’s 88 cities,” he added. 

In its initial decades, the measure would invest $120 billion in infrastructure across the county, he said.

The cities suing over Measure M will re-evaluate their options on clearing up the ballot description for voters, Robles said.

This story has been updated.