All levels of government in the U.S. are at fiscal crossroads, and the public finance of our transportation and land use systems is no exception. Population and travel continue to grow, albeit more slowly in recent years, but mainstay sources of revenues, from property taxes, motor fuels taxes, and the like, have been lagging needs for years. New revenue sources, like special assessments and local option transportation sales taxes, have increasingly, but only partially, filled the widening gap. Calls on limited property taxes – for fire and police, schools, streets and roads, and so on – have never been greater, and projections show that fuel tax rates might need to be tripled to catch up with growing needs just to maintain crumbling street, highway, and public transit systems. Despite pressing needs, increasing property taxes in California remains beyond the political pale, and there is, if anything, declining political will to raise fuel tax rates at either the federal or state levels. Instead, we have turned more and more to local transportation sales taxes, bonds, public-private partnerships, tolls, fees, and special assessments in what is becoming an increasingly ad hoc – and inadequate – system of sidewalk, street, road, highway, and transit finance.
Given the unprecedented scale and the urgency of the infrastructure funding crisis, particularly in transportation, the 2012 UCLA Lake Arrowhead Transportation – Land Use – Environment Symposium addressed the following questions: