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West Hollywood Plots To Get In On Metro Expansion

(Photo by Gary Kavanagh via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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West Hollywood is hoping to get in on Metro's expansion, unveiling a strategy to get Metro to consider them in their future plans. The West Hollywood City Council approved a measure that would allow the City to increase their sales tax as part of a plan to court MTA into including them in future expansion plans, according to WeHoville. The City will also give $200,000 to consultants who will begin lobbying for light rail. Ideally, they would like WeHo connected to Metro's Red Line and the Crenshaw/LAX extension.

Metro will attempt to put a measure on the 2016 ballot that would raise Los Angeles County's sales tax from 9% to 9.5% for rail expansion. Currently, cities in the state of California can only tax as much as 10% on sales. West Hollywood councilmember John Duran, who proposed the measure, noted that currently 7.5% goes to the state and 1.5% goes to the county, with some of that revenue used to fund local projects. Duran believes that pushing West Hollywood's sales tax closer to 10% would limit the sales tax increase Metro could seek for funding, and that MTA would be inclined to negotiate with West Hollywood in order to get some of their increased tax revenue.

According to John Leonard, West Hollywood's Head of Revenue Management, bumping the sales tax up by 0.25% would result in about $4 million in the first year, and could grow to $175 million in 30 years.

If the City can't convince Metro to include them in expansion plans, Duran says the money could be used for other things. West Hollywood councilman John D'Amico suggested affordable housing projects.

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Mayor Lindsey Hovarth was the only council member opposed to the plan, saying she felt it "presents a challenge to building relationships" with county officials.

West Hollywood has wanted light rail for a while, but previous considerations were scrapped over cost issues.