Bankrupt Detroit and often near-bankrupt Santa Ana both are defying logic and wish to build streetcar systems for the nebulous goal of “economic development”. In Detroit’s case, the federal government has kicked in $140 million per this CNS piece. In Santa Ana’s case, $238 million is expected to mostly come from the county-wide 1/2-cent sales tax, Measure M(2) for purely Santa Ana’s “benefit”.
Says Dr. Sam Staley, a research fellow at Reason Foundation of the Detroit project:
“The city is betting on the streetcar generating a new kind of economic development that will catalyze around this new infrastructure investment. They bought into the rhetoric surrounding these kinds of investments, but most of them have not been backed up by good solid numbers,” Dr. Samuel Staley, managing director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University and research fellow at the Reason Foundation, told CNSNews.com. “Most of these projects are based on future estimates that are rarely validated by studies done post-investment,” Staley said, adding that he is highly skeptical that Detroit’s new streetcar will “create the development it’s promising.” Although he personally likes to ride streetcars, Staley says,“from an economic perspective, they don’t make sense.”
We doubt that the OC Transportation Authority, which has recently taken control of the project, will do the same sort of analysis — they’ve never NOT rubber-stamped light rail. The Voice of OC reported “Supporters of the projects say they will increase connectivity while spurring economic investment along the routes, with businesses encouraged to sprout up due to the permanence of the track.” But as also was the case for a similar project in Anaheim, no solid numbers, independent third-party market research or analysis was honestly done for the City, despite the number of years they’ve had to do such work since the project was proposed and the money that’s already been spent for it.
As well, per our sister blog: Strong opposition to the proposed Santa Ana streetcar emerges. And, despite two stories in the union-funded Voice of OC, no one (like Orange County’s District Attorney) has stepped forward to look into Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido’s corrupt relationship with the streetcar’s inappropriately selected engineers at Cordoba Corp.: Santa Ana Streetcar Contractor Hired Manager With Bribery Record and Santa Ana Streetcar Project Runs Into More Controversy.
Pulido is a long-time Director on the OCTA Board, so we’ll expect them to step carefully — if this expensive and useless debacle even gets any attention at all. Pulido is a permanent member of the OCTA Board, and not regularly selected as are other District members participating for four-year terms. No one is specifically elected to this Board that controls a $1.1 billion budget, they are all political appointees. It might also be expected that Michael Hennesey, one of the Board’s Public Members, might also take an interest since he claims experience “in housing and development for redevelopment agencies as well as commercial and residential development companies.” This is what Public Members are expected to do, altho one wouldn’t be able to tell from the failures of the other Public Member.
First District Supervisor Janet Nguyen has Santa Ana in her District, but considering her own issues and malfeasance with CalOptima, we wouldn’t expect this GOP candidate for the 34th Senate District to raise any questions that might point back at her own lack of credibility, bad acting and indiscretions in office. As well, it would be appropriate for Garden Grove Councilman Steve Jones who also represents the First District on the OCTA Board to start asking some questions — especially since the streetcar route runs into the non-existent Garden Grove “Transportation Center”and alongside Willowick Golf Course which his city owns and would like to redevelop.
Will anyone step up and start questioning WHY this turkey needs to be built?