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CRA Approves $8.4 Million for Streetcar

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, March 03, 2011, at 06:19PM
LA Streetcar Rendering LA Streetcar Inc

Rendering of the proposed L.A. Streetcar project on Figueroa next to Staples Center

Efforts to bring a streetcar back to Downtown L.A. stayed on-track this morning as the Community Redevelopment Agency approved $8.4 million in funds previously set-aside for the project.

Added to $1.6 million the agency had previously put into the streetcar effort and $1 million approved last week by City Council, the funds enable the streetcar project to complete environmental work and preliminary engineering. Metro has been contracted to manage the environmental process, and should be selecting a firm to perform to work this month.

Part of the money will go toward the creation of a Community Facilities District that will levy a special tax on properties near the line and help pay for both its construction and operation. L.A. Streetcar, Inc is in charge of planning for the district.

Like the assessment for a Business Improvement District, the levy would be added to property taxes.

The vote to create the district, however, is most likely to end up in the hands of all registered voters living inside the boundaries rather than just those who own property. While the exact boundaries have not been set, a spread of just a few blocks would encompass most residents of the Historic Core, South Park and Bunker Hill.

Still, that doesn't mean the owners won't be involved in shaping the district and assessment over the upcoming months.

"It's not like we're going to put it to a vote if the property owners don't want it," said Dennis Allen, director of the streetcar non-profit. He emphasized that only once the project had the backing of a majority of owners would the district be created.

The funding agreement now goes to City Council for approval. That is likely to come next week.

The streetcar project is estimated to cost $125 million. A recently-released economic study said that the project would generate $1.1 billion in new development and 2,100 permanent jobs.


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