Five years ago there was no funding in sight and little promise for easing Los Angeles’ traffic-clogged streets and freeways. Today we’re in the midst of a kind of transportation renaissance, with more than a dozen, fully-funded mass transit projects now in the works, including the recently approved Crenshaw/LAX Line.
Instrumental in the ongoing effort to improve public transportation in Los Angeles is Move LA, a project of Community Partners since 2008. Move LA was started by Denny Zane, a former mayor of Santa Monica, with the mission of developing broad support and new funding for a more robust, financially sound, and more equitable public transportation system.
The group’s major contribution has been in pulling together a coalition of labor, business, and environmental groups to work with Metro and then- Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in support of transit. Says Beth Steckler, Move LA’s deputy director, “MoveLA had the ability to [bring everyone together] and find common ground and meaningful solutions.”
Zane emphatically credits MoveLA’s success to his partnership with Gloria Ohland, his policy and communications director, and Steckler.
One significant solution was Measure R, which was a 30-year half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2008. Measure R provides more than $25 billion for new mass transit projects. “Measure R is our big win,” says Steckler.
As Move LA works to maintain LA’s transit momentum, the group is next focused on building support to reduce the percentage of voters required to approve sales tax increases from two-thirds to 55 percent. Measure J, a ballot effort to extend the half-cent sales tax approved by Measure R for an 30 additional years, fell just 0.56 percent, or 14,000, votes shy of approval. “By getting 66.11 percent of the vote, we know we have the support of the people,” says Steckler. “I am hopeful we will have a measure to reduce the threshold to 55 percent on the ballot in 2014.”
Steckler credits Community Partners with helping MoveLA to stay on target with their goals. “Community Partners takes care of the structure and details and allows us to focus on our work,” she said. “We’re not bogged down by running an organization.”