The recent failure of L.A.'s recent Measure J, which would have extended the half-cent sales tax approved in 2008 as Measure R for an additional 30 years, leaves open the question: What is the future of transportation funding in Los Angeles?
Students from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs gathered at L.A. City Hall on Feb. 8 to discuss this vital issue for the region. “Full Speed Ahead: Creative Solutions to L.A.’s Transportation Needs,” was the ninth annual UCLA Luskin Day at Los Angeles City Hall, hosted once again by Los Angeles Controller, and UCLA alumna, Wendy Greuel. The daylong event connected students from the School’s Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning departments, with city and county leaders as well as representatives from the private and nonprofit sectors, to discuss this multi-faceted problem.
“It’s not all about transportation but L.A. getting back to work,” said Greuel, adding, “This is an opportune time to think about the future of L.A., not what could we have done.”
A panel of experts started the conversation by putting L.A.’s transportation challenges in context. Panelists were: UCLA emeritus professor of Urban Planning, Martin Wachs; Denny Zane, Exective Director of Move LA; Borja Leon, Deputy Mayor for Transportation for the City of Los Angeles; and, Pam O’Connor, Mayor of Santa Monica. Following the panel discussion, the students had the opportunity to interview the government, private sector and nonprofit representatives, and hear both pro- and anti-Measure J arguments.
Malocca Hawkins, a first-year Public Policy student at the Luskin School, said, “Everyone I interviewed seems to have a different perspective on why [Measure] J failed. But, there is a general consensus that under no circumstances should transportation measures slated to move forward stop. They don’t see that voters turning down the measure is indicative that they shouldn’t move forward.”
“This was a great experience overall,” said Craig Pulsipher, a Master of Public Policy and Social Welfare student. “Being able to study this completely opened my eyes and changed my perspective on transportation, generally, and transportation in L.A., specifically.” Pulsipher said that the benefits of the UCLA Luskin Day at Los Angeles City Hall were meeting with people of very different perspectives and backgrounds and seeing the interconnection between academics and policy.
Allison Yoh, Associate Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA served as faculty advisor, and moderated an open noontime discussion on solutions to L.A.’s transportation challenges. The participating students will be drafting a memo with Dr. Yoh on the information gathered and the solutions proposed during the day.
the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
Founded in 1994 and dedicated in 2011, the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs  is a leading institution for research and scholarship in the areas of public policy, social welfare and urban planning. Based in the global metropolis of Los Angeles, UCLA Luskin develops creative solutions and innovative leaders that confront challenges in immigration, drug policy, prison reform, transportation, the environment, and other areas vital to the continued health and well-being of our global society.