A Streetcar in Downtown Los Angeles Will Cost More Than $200 Million. Is It Worth It? – California News

A Streetcar in Downtown Los Angeles Will Cost More Than $200 Million. Is It Worth It? – California News

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Streetcar!

Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc.

As every schoolchild knows, Los Angeles has a long history of streetcar service, dating all the way back to the early 2000s* when a young entrepreneur named Rick Caruso put one in his outdoor Euro-mall now known as the Grove. Since then, L.A. has been woefully bereft of new streetcars (Glendale doesn’t count). It has long been a top priority of City Councilman José Huizar to bring a streetcar to downtown L.A., a neighborhood he’s represented since the redistricting commission ceded it to him in 2012.

Later that year, downtown L.A. property owners voted to tax themselves in order to raise $85 million for the streetcar. The plan was to get the rest of the project’s construction costs paid for by the federal government, but that never happened. Measure M, the sales tax hike to fund public transportation construction, approved by L.A. County voters last year, allocated $200 million to the streetcar — a lot of money to you and me but a drop in the bucket of the initiative’s $120 billion budget. Unfortunately, the streetcar’s Measure M funds aren’t scheduled to arrive until 2053, by which time Councilman Huizar likely will no longer be in office.

Los Angeles Streetcar Inc., the 501(c)3 nonprofit (really just a collection of downtown business interests and real estate developers) that’s the main force behind the streetcar plan, is trying to get that timeline moved up a bit, possibly to 2021 or so. The organization hopes to either secure federal funding (yeah, right), convince Metro to let the streetcar cut in line and get its money earlier, or work some sort of financial hoodoo and borrow money against…

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