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Eyeing local rail transit, WeHo council backs Metro sales tax measure

The city of West Hollywood is throwing its support behind a ballot measure that would raise the sales tax in Los Angeles County to pay for transportation projects, among them a train through West Hollywood. 

West Hollywood’s City Council voted this week to support the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s ballot measure known as Measure M.

West Hollywood officials have been pushing for years to get a train line for the city. Experts say rail makes a lot of sense for the city — it’s central, dense, walkable, and features many attractions and businesses.

Metro does have a plan to build rail there by extending the Crenshaw line north through mid-city all the way to Hollywood, where it would connect with the Red Line. But the project hadn't been planned for construction for another 25 years, even with the additional funds that would be generated with the proposed sales tax.

After protests from West Hollywood officials, including former Mayor Lindsey Horvath, Metro CEO Phil Washington wrote a letter promising to make the project "shovel ready" in the next four years. "Shovel ready" means all of the project's preliminary studies and preparatory work will be done, including feasibility studies and design, so construction could start immediately if funding becomes available.

"This is a critical move and we’re very grateful to Metro. We’ve been at this conversation with them for a very long time," said Horvath, a member of the West Hollywood City Council.

The council has already cleared the way for a possible citywide sales tax ballot measure to help fund the train line. Officials could also win state or federal grants that would accelerate construction of the transit project.