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Is the sales tax the best way to pay for transit? No, but it’s politically sellable, says LA

December 17th, 2014 · 30 Comments

For those who don’t follow me on Twitter (are there any?), I was in Los Angeles recently. Yes, one of my favourite cities, which I’ll explain another time.

But while I was there, observing the anguish of house monsterization (a real word, it appears), the worry about gentrification brought on by bike lanes (a real debate, it appears), the angst over a developer building fortress-like apartments in downtown LA (a real architectural sin, it appears), I also had a chance to interview one of the architects of the coalition that helped get 67-per-cent approval for a half-per-cent sales tax in LA in 2008 to pay for $36 billion in transit improvements.

Denny Zane is one of those great old-fashioned American leftists, still fighting for the people. In his downtown office building, complete with a giant photo of a young Cesar Chavez, he talked for an hour about how to win the transit fight and why it’s important. Interestingly, there was a lot more focus, when he talked, about how important transit is to working-class people than I hear in debates around Vancouver (where the left and the NIMBY right seem to view it currently as some evil developer plot).

Here’s my story summing up his main points. More to come.

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