The City of Irvine, California, located in Orange County, will not be getting rail transit... yet. Last Tuesday, the residents of the city voted on two measures: Measure A, which would have committed the city to building its portion of the proposed Orange County Centerline LRT project, and Measure B, which would have removed any reference to rail transit from all city plans.
As you can see, these two measures cut to the heart of a controversial issue. The people of Orange County love their cars, and they hate their taxes, and so opinions on these measures were strong. Voter turnout was 23% -- not bad for an off-month civic referendum in the United States.
When asked whether or not Irvine should commit itself to an LRT, the answer was a clear... maybe. Measure A failed by a 48-52% margin. Measure B, which would have been the death knell to any rail transit project in the city, was also defeated, again by a 48-52% margin. So, the people of Irvine are willing to consider rail transit in the future, just not now, or this particular line.
What I found interesting, however, was that the Los Angeles Times took the time to interview three points of view coming out of the voting booth:
"Mass transit is long overdue here," said Jerry Gallenson, 47, of Irvine, after casting his ballot for CenterLine. "As people keep moving in, we are going to have gridlock. I think mass transit is something that's inevitable. It is good to be out in front of the issue, rather than a straggler at the end."
Beverly Anderson, 62, who voted against Measure A and in favor of Measure B, said she doubts anyone would use the rail line. "It is a waste of the taxpayers' money," she said after casting her ballot at Irvine City Hall. "People like their cars better."
Anderson's husband, William, 67, voted no on Measure A and no on Measure B. He said CenterLine would not pay for itself, but he did not "want to slam on the door" on future light rail proposals.
Interesting that they interviewed three points of view (yes A/no B; no A/yes B and no A/no B) and not four. Don't those people who supported both Measure A and Measure B deserve equal time, even if it is to say something like this:
Reporter: So, you voted both for the measure committing Irvine to the Centerline LRT project, and the measure which would have stripped all references to light rail from the Irvine City Plan. Why is that?
Voter #1: Well, I know what you're thinking. I just wanted to thumb my nose at the statisticians and keep the politicians on their toes, you know?
Reporter: I see... And you, sir! Why did you support both motions?
Voter #2: Well, I've gotta tell ya, those people at the polling station are such nice people, I just couldn't say no to them, ya know? I mean, I'm not a negative person! Why can't we always be positive, eh?
Reporter: So... you're opposed to light rail?
Voter #2: Yes!
Reporter: But you voted in favour of Measure A?
Voter #2: Yes!
Reporter: So... you like light rail?
Voter #2: Yes!
Reporter: Can you give me $1000 out of your pocket, right now?
Voter #2: Yes! Damn!