The following commentary appeared in the Claremont Courier on November 4, 2016.
Claremont mayor urges ‘yes’ vote on Measure M – Claremont Courier
By Sam Pedroza, Mayor of Claremont
November 4, 2016
Measure M on the November 8 ballot is unanimously supported by the Claremont City Council, and is a measure I strongly believe should be passed by voters.
Measure M is a new half-cent sales tax that will fund 40 major highway and transit projects throughout our county in the first 40 years, including the Foothill Gold Line light rail project to Claremont (which is one of the first projects to be funded under Measure M if it passes).
All of these projects will provide alternative means of transportation and improvements to existing modes, giving residents of Claremont valuable time back by reducing time spent sitting in traffic.
Not only does the extension of the Foothill Gold Line provide more transit options for Claremont residents, but it also creates another way to build our local economy by bringing people from Pasadena and Los Angeles to enjoy Claremont’s shopping, dining and cultural events.
Other important local projects that would be funded by Measure M include improving the 57 and 60 interchange, the 605 and 10 and 605 and 60 interchanges, completing the SR-71 through Pomona, and providing hundreds of millions of dollars for bike, bus and other local projects to improve the way we move.
Importantly, the measure also includes local return funds, estimated to bring more than $500,000 to the city of Claremont each year for improvements we decide to make to our transportation system here in our city.
Notably, Metro has built-in room for flexibility in case new technologies come online or better solutions are found that we don’t know of today. They have also built in independent oversight to ensure the funds are spent as promised (both at the county level and at the city level).
I have heard some people say they are against any new, permanent tax. I understand their concerns, but I must say that I believe a permanent sales tax is the best option in the case of Measure M.
In addition to being able to bond against future revenues to build more projects and build them sooner, a permanent tax provides a higher proportion of local return to each local city; keeps fares low for seniors, students and the disabled; and provides Metro the ongoing funding they need to maintain their growing system in a state of good repair as it ages.
If you look around the country today, many of the larger, older systems—like Washington, DC, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco—are having a terrible time maintaining their systems because they did not create a permanent funding stream to use for maintenance. This has caused safety issues as well as loss of service due to breakdowns or wearing of equipment.
Rather than just asking voters to build additional rail miles and finish freeway segments that are long overdue for completion, Metro is strategically planning for the system’s future and ensuring they have the resources needed to keep the system running smoothly in the decades ahead.
Measure M will also provide a huge economic boon for our region. The Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation estimates the measure will create more than 465,000 jobs for our region and generate billions of dollars of economic output that will boost our local economy.
Unlike previous tax measure proposals, Metro did it right this time. They have spent time, worked with each area of the county, listened to the feedback and proposed a plan that benefits everyone.
For us here in Claremont, it will mean getting the Foothill Gold Line to finally arrive in our city, at least $500,000 a year for local transportation improvements, funding for Metrolink and Dial-a-Ride and much more.
There is no other source of money available to accomplish what Metro is proposing through Measure M, and I believe this is our chance to become a county prepared for the next century.
I urge you to join our city council in support of Measure M on November 8.