South Bay officials want a larger share of federal money and influence for transportation projects, and they believe Inglewood Mayor James Butts can deliver. In fact, they voted last week for him to replace Santa Monica Mayor Pam O’Connor as the regional representative on the Metro board.
Torrance Mayor Pat Furey nominated Butts for the post. The Southwest Corridor Cities subcommittee voted in his favor. The City Selection Committee is expected to ratify the appointment at its meeting in January.
As a Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member, Butts would represent the Southwest Corridor, which consists of 18 cities in the South Bay and Westside.
Despite O’Connor’s 13 years on the board and support from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, O’Connor only won votes from Culver City, and 4 small Palos Verdes Peninsula cities. With $1 billion of the $40 billion allocated to the Southwest Corridor over the next 30 years, Corridor cities would only get about 2.5 percent of the funds. They are paying more than that in sales tax revenue, according to reports.
"I'm very honored to be chosen by cities and to be chosen as the first representative from Inglewood to be nominated for the board," Butts told the Santa Monica Lookout. "I hope to provide a voice for the Westside cities on the Board as we move forward.”
With 12 votes, Inglewood represents the second largest voting population (Torrance is number one with 15 votes) in the Southwest Corridor. With Butts as the Corridor’s representative, Inglewood would be in a strong position.
In regard to Inglewood, Butts said he would “revisit the issue of grade separation for the Florence-Centinela crossing of the Metrorail (and) develop a shuttle or turnaround solution to move passengers from the Florence-La Brea station to the Forum and the new Hollywood Park Tomorrow development site.”
Traffic in Southern California is the cause of much frustration, road rage and late night jokes. However, Butts has high hopes that even in 405-ville, the MTA Board and officials can find a clear path out of gridlock. It begins, he said, with strong leadership.
“I want to provide an effective collaborative voice for the Southwest Corridor Cities,” he said. He envisions a “countywide transportation system that reduces our reliance on the automobile, resulting in cleaner air and less reliance on oil.”
Don’t we all?
Assuming he is approved by the full City Selection Committee in January, Butts will serve a four-year term that ends in January 2019. There are no term limits for MTA board members.
Metro Board members are selected by City Selection Committee subcommittees representing the four regions of LA County—the North County/San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, Southeast Long Beach and Southwest Corridor.
Members include all five County Supervisors, the mayor of Los Angeles, three mayoral appointees and a non-voting gubernatorial appointee.