The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) plans to spend $200,000 on sauna and steam rooms, according to an investigative report by David Goldstein of CBS Los Angeles.
MTA Chief Executive Officer Phillip Washington denied knowledge of the particular line item in the budget, but Goldstein pointed out that documents included the designation “Phil’s request” next to the budget item. Additionally, Goldstein obtained emails sent by Washington in January that stated: “Been using and thinking about our P-1 Metro workout facility. Please advise on the feasibility of installing a coed sauna or steam room ….”
The workout facility, located below the MTA’s headquarters, is open to all 11,000 employees, but is used by an average of only 120 employees per day. Washington said multiple people requested that the district consider adding a sauna, but the email stated only that he was thinking about it.
Washington additionally stated that the sauna could lower the MTA’s workers’ compensation claims, but he did not provide any details.
Presented with $50,000 and $200,000 options, Washington selected the more expensive option. District officials said some of the funds that would be spent on the sauna could come from Measure M, a half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in November 2016 that promised to, among other things, improve traffic flow, repair roads, retrofit bridges for earthquake safety and improve public transit.
The MTA removed the sauna line item from the budget, but still is considering the proposal for future budgets, Goldstein reported.