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Understanding the FactsAnalyzing the CAO's cost estimates for HLA

Analyzing the CAO's cost estimates for HLA

UPDATE: On Friday, February 16, 2024, the CAO released a last minute, even more misleading report, claiming the cost has now gone up to $3.1B! The main reason claimed for the increase is the repair of 9’ sidewalks compared to 6’ sidewalks; nothing in the Mobility Plan requires sidewalk repair, and therefore HLA does not require sidewalk repair. The arguments below stand, and we call on the CAO to stop playing politics with the lives of Angelenos. Read our call to action from that day.

Statement from Yes on HLA:

“The CAO’s math is based on false assumptions and overstates the cost of HLA by more than $2 billion. While the Mobility Plan requires improvements for pedestrians, it does not require the repair of sidewalks. Also, the CAO’s bike lane estimate is exaggerated and four times higher than what the City spent on a recent bike lane improvement project.”

“Measure HLA will not cause a significant impact on the City’s general fund, and would be an affordable program to fix our dangerous streets and save lives.”


The City Administrative Officer provided a financial impact report for Measure HLA:
“This Ordinance will require the implementation of the street enhancements described in the Mobility Plan whenever the City improves at least one-eighth of a mile of a Mobility Plan street. The cost to implement the Bicycle Networks and Pedestrian Enhanced Districts could exceed $2.5 billion over 10 years.”
This cost estimate is fundamentally false and flawed.

While the HLA ballot cost estimate does not specify how the office arrived at their numbers, the CAO’s report (23-0600-S54) estimating Mobility Plan Implementation costs from November 2023 shows the math.

Pedestrian Enhanced Districts Cost

The CAO calculated $1.4B to repair sidewalks on the Mobility Plan in Los Angeles (23-0600-S54, page 5). CAO bike lane calculation Here is what the Mobility Plan’s Complete Streets Document says about Pedestrian Enhanced Districts:
“Pedestrian-Enhanced Districts (PEDs) include streets where pedestrian improvements are prioritized to provide safe and enjoyable walking connections to and from major destinations within communities. PEDs are selected based on safety, public health, equity, access, social, and/or economic benefits. Examples of pedestrian enhancements include wayfinding signage, street trees, pedestrian-scale street lighting, enhanced crosswalks, automatic pedestrian signals, reduced crossing length (e.g., corner bulb outs and crossing refuge islands), sidewalk widening, and public seating areas.”
The Mobility Plan does not state that the City must repair sidewalks. Therefore the $1.4B estimated cost cannot be attributed to Measure HLA.

That fact notwithstanding, the City already has a dedicated funding source for the repair of sidewalks via the $1.4B Willits Settlement. Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (such as curb ramps during repaving) is an existing cost and obligation of the City and cannot be attributed to Measure HLA.

Bike Networks Cost

The CAO’s calculation for the cost of bike lanes ( 23-0600-S54 , page 4) is the following: CAO sidewalk repair calculation These numbers are vastly inflated compared to what the Mobility Plan (and therefore Measure HLA) would require for bike lanes.

In a public records request looking into how these numbers were reached, LADOT’s report to the CAO said that re-striping a mile of street costs $250,000/mile.

A recent budget ask from LADOT pegged the cost of “Funding to install buffered bike lanes, with green pavement markings to highlight conflict areas, and additional hardening treatments, such as rubberized curbs, at $350,000 per mile.”

In another example, we understand that the recent San Vicente project – an example of the kind of project Measure HLA would lead to, with the City implementing its own Mobility Plan when repaving – cost around $250,000. The project was 1.25 miles in length. This leads to a per mile cost of $200,000 per mile, or 89% less than the CAO’s estimate.

Let’s assume the highest per mile cost of $350,000 (this is generous, as more than half of bike lanes to be installed are unprotected, so will only require paint) and add the medium amount for community engagement (which, itself, is inflated and beyond what the City needs to do).

$350,000 x 614 miles = $214,900,000 + $54,000,000 for community engagement = $286,425,000

This is 26% of the CAO’s estimated $1.1+ billion cost to implement the Bike Enhanced Network.


Because HLA won’t require sidewalk remediation, and bike lanes are far cheaper than the CAO expressed, a more appropriate minimum cost estimate for implementing the Pedestrian Enhanced Districts and Bike networks would be about $286M over 10 years, or $28.6M/year.

The CAO overstates the cost of HLA by more than $2 billion.

In reality, the costs of HLA would be 11.4% of what the CAO published, and less than 1 percent of the City’s budget (0.22%). It’s also slightly more than LADOT was under budget last year.

All of these numbers need to be contextualized with current revenue sources available for transportation. This budget cycle (2024), the City received and allocated nearly $1 Billion for transportation related spending, the majority of which came from special funds that cannot be spent in any other way.

Special Fund: Prop A$209.2m
Special Fund: State Gas Tax$121.4m
Special Fund: Prop C$105.7m
Special Fund: SB1 (Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Fund)$94m
Special Fund: Measure M$79.5m
Special Fund: Measure R$79m
Special Fund: Street Damage Restoration Fee$77.7m
General Fund: LADOT$136.2m
General Fund: Street Services$56.9m
General Fund: Street Lighting$3m

In the next 10 years, the City will spend about $10 Billion on transportation.

Based on the CAO’s own methodology, Measure HLA would cost $28.6M/year, 90% less than what the CAO estimated. It is clear that implementing the Mobility Plan under Measure HLA will not cause a significant impact on the City’s general fund. Measure HLA is an affordable investment to fix our dangerous streets and save lives.