LOS ANGELES — A judge rejected a petition filed on behalf of seven Los Angeles County cities seeking significant changes in the ballot language for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s proposed half-cent county sales tax measure, saying there was no evidence the wording was confusing to voters.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel said Measure M is not an initiative and therefore did not require the ballot language specifics sought in the action filed last week by the cities of Carson, Commerce, Norwalk, Torrance, Santa Fe Springs, Rancho Palos Verdes and Signal Hill.
The petition alleged that the ballot label for Measure M did not include the actual 1 percent total rate of the tax to be imposed. The petitioners also claimed the ballot label for Measure M does not state that the proposed tax would be permanent.
Carson Mayor Albert Robles said after the hearing that he and the other coalition members were disappointed with the ruling and are considering an appeal. He said the MTA’s argument that the coalition was required to seek help from the Legislature was not an option because it would have been too late to do so in time for the November election.
“All we are seeking is transparency,” Robles said, adding, “The voters shouldn’t be misled and confused.”
Signal Hill City Councilman Larry Forester said many residents of the southern part of Los Angeles County do not have access to computers in order to read background material on Measure M.
“It’s a sad day for voters,” Forester said.
The petitioners said the ballot measure leads voters to believe that there will be an equal distribution of projects. In reality, projects in the western and northern of the regions of the county will take priority, while southern Los Angeles County regions will not see any benefits until 2039-40, according to the petitioners.
Yusef Robb, of the campaign on behalf of Measure M, called the lawsuit “a political stunt that has nothing to do with the law or reality.”
“Measure M will build regional traffic-reduction projects across L.A. County, from Claremont to Torrance to Santa Fe Springs and everywhere in between, and will direct funds to each of L.A. County’s 88 cities for their own local projects,” Robb said.
“Measure M was publicly debated and put on the ballot by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors in clear recognition of its countywide traffic-reduction benefits,” Robb added.