Whatever It Costs, It’s Worth Itby Brad Warbiany
Ugh. I’ve skewered David Lazarus before, when he decided to miss the forest for the trees. In that instance, he argued against freedom due to the potential annoyance it may bring.
Today, though, he’s gone after something that’s far more important to me than Cubans and cellphones — my pocketbook. He makes the crucial fallacy of “no price is too high for what I want, especially when you’re paying”:
How livable do you want both Los Angeles and California to be in the years ahead? On Tuesday, you can have your say.
Two ballot items — Measure R and Proposition 1A — will, if approved, redefine transportation in L.A. and throughout the state, giving us viable alternatives to our cars and helping wean us from our oil jones.
But it won’t be cheap. It’ll almost certainly cost many billions of dollars more than the roughly $50 billion foreseen by the two initiatives.
“Budgets are set to make projects more palatable to the electorate,” said James Moore, a professor of urban planning and civil engineering at USC. “I always multiply by a factor of two or three.”
But you know what? Even if these projects topped $200 billion, they’d still be a wise investment in our future. More on that in a moment.
Still, I have to give him credit. When I say that the bill will be far higher than is estimated, he’s accepting that premise. Unfortunately, he’s going off and suggesting that these projects are smart, indispensable, and yet also the best use of our money over the next few decades.
The green folks want light rail and bullet trains, whether people ride it or not, and care little about the expense. To them, it’s a social goal that must be supported, and we should simply have faith that it will pay its way later.
Oh, and let’s not forget the personal emotion aspect:
Marnie O’Brien Primmer is executive director of Mobility 21, a Southern California transportation advocacy group. She lives in Costa Mesa and works downtown.
“The other day, it took me 2 1/2 hours to get to work,” Primmer told me. “Things are pretty bad.”
Welcome to the car culture of SoCal. Everyone knows that living in Costa Mesa and working downtown results in a hellish commute — every day. In other cities, people try to live near their jobs. In SoCal, it is a general idea that where you live often bears little resemblance to where you work. Sometimes (due to home prices) that means that you’re stuck living in Riverside or Fontana while you’re working downtown. Often, though, it’s simply preference. Few people choose to live in Costa Mesa for cost reasons, so I would guess that Ms. Primmer could just as easily live somewhere near downtown. Living where she does is a choice.
In better economic times, a State or city who had their fiscal affairs in order might be able to afford such extravagances. California is not that state, and Los Angeles is not that city. I find it odd that you see this poll on the article:
Are you willing to pay the tab for tomorrow’s transit solutions?
— Yes. Californians need to see the bigger picture.
— Maybe. But I want the costs nailed down first.
— No. I’ll let my kids and grandkids worry about it.
Hey, bud, with a $9B bond issue required to START paying for a high-speed rail line, I think it will be my kids and grandkids paying for it anyway. I’m sure they’ll be very thankful for that burden.