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Major Funding for Bicycle & Pedestrian Projects Approved by City Council

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In downtown | Photo by @sevenphoto via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr

In downtown | Photo by @sevenphoto via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
The Los Angeles City Council this morning approved a chunk of money from Measure R--the sales tax devoted to L.A. County transportation projects--that will be set aside and devoted to pedestrian and bicycle projects. The amount is only about $3.3 million--that's 10% of Measure R funds coming directly to the city of Los Angeles this next year--but the money was fought over in a one-hour long debate [Update: The Mayor's budget (.pdf) has the number at about $5.2 million].

A contingent of the council wanted funding to be "up to 10%" instead of a flat 10%, which was eventually approved--apparently a major hurdle to overcome. The funding amount now sets the stage for future years.

Councilmember Greig Smith said he didn't have a problem with pedestrian or cycling projects, but rather setting a budget for unknown projects. "So we're going to allocate money for a program we don't have" he questioned. "That is the silliest budgeting I've ever seen... budgeting for programs we want to do when there's no program."

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But Councilman Paul Krekorian said putting the money aside for anticipated programs is nothing new. "I understand the concern about set asides, especially in a tough budget time, but sometimes set asides are necessary to be sure we do the work that would otherwise be set aside [in perpetuity]."

Council President Eric Garcetti was concerned that an "up to 10%" funding model could mean 0% or 1% funding for pedestrian and bicycle projects. "I've been waiting a year and a half to get some paint on the street" for sharrows, he said. "That's unacceptable."

"It's about time we allocated some real dollars" to bicycle projects, opined Councilmember Paul Koretz, who introduced an amending motion that would set pedestrian and bicycle funding at 10% minimum. The idea failed in a 7 to 7 vote.

The "up to 10%" funding motion also failed in a 5 to 9 vote. The original recommendation of a flat 10% stream for the projects was approved in a 11 to 3 vote, which drew cheers from the audience.

Related: For a detailed and insider look at today's meeting, check Steetsblog LA.