The U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to hear a petition regarding the legality of fees levied on owners of property near several Los Angeles subway stations, ending a six-year battle over the tax.

The court's action in late June supports a California Supreme Court decision in January validating the benefit assessment fees.

It also paves the way for the Southern California Rapid Transit District to impose the levies on property owners within walking distance of five stations along the 4.1-mile portion of the Metro Red Line, the first phase of a subway designed to run to the San Fernando Valley.

"This important ruling means that those who benefit most, the commercial property owners near Metro Red Line stations, will be assessed to help pay for the cost of the system," Marvin Holen, the transit district's board president, said in a statement.

The transit district is expected to create a benefit assessment district and collect $130 million over the next 15 years. The fees could secure bond issues.

A group of property owners along the route - which stretches from Union Station to MacArthur Park - filed suit, charging the levy was unconstitutional.

The Los Angeles County Transportation Commission officially assumed control of rail system construction in July 1990, but the transit district retains the sole statutory authority for the collection of benefit assessments.

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