Proposed County Measure Would Tax for Stormwater Clean Up Projects

County property owners recently received mailers on a proposed tax measure to cover costs for improving water quality and reducing pollution.

The Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure creates a pool of money for stormwater clean up projects by taxing county property owners.

Click here for the tax proposal ballot.

Property owners should have received notification in their mail boxes by with how much their annual tax would be by now.

A typical single-family homeowner would pay about $54 on average and condominium owners $20 or less, according to Phil Doudar, project manager for the initiative. About 90 percent of parcel owners would likely pay less than $100, though large commercial property owners could pay thousands of dollars.

If approved, property owners would be charged an annual fee to cover costs associated with improving water quality and reducing pollution from urban runoff.

Department of Public Works Director Gail Farber warned earlier this year that county waterways are choked with trash, infection-causing bacteria, toxic chemicals, lead, copper and other metals, oil and grease.

As proposed, the measure would raise about $276 million annually to be split between Los Angeles County's Flood Control District, nine watershed areas set up to manage cleanup projects and the rest of the cities that make up the county.

The Flood Control District spent an estimated $340 million to control pollutants in fiscal year 2010-11, according to Farber, who has estimated the cost of complying with existing water-quality regulations to be in the billions of dollars.

But supervisors Michael Antonovich and Don Knabe objected to what they called a tax on residents, saying funding should come from the federal or state government.

Antonovich and Knabe voted against the proposal in July, arguing that it should be put to voters in a future election rather than to property owners via a mail-in ballot.

"It really is disingenuous,'' Knabe said. "Clearly the intent of  this piece of mail is to look like junk mail.''

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who backs the measure disagreed, saying it looks much like rate increase notices from local utilities.

Environmental groups, as well as representatives of the City's Department of Engineering also back the proposal, saying it will create funding for local projects that can also prevent flooding and recycle water.

The notice is just the first step in the approval process.

A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Jan. 15 during the board's regular weekly meeting at 9:30 a.m.

If a majority of property owners protest the fee in writing before the end of that meeting, the fee will not be imposed.

If a majority do not object, a ballot would be mailed to property owners. And if a majority of ballots returned are in favor of the measure, the fee would be charged.

More information is available at www.lacountycleanwater.org.


Colin Kingston January 06, 2013 at 07:16 PM
I see that the meeting to discuss the fee increase is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on weekday. Most property owners are at work at that time and thus won't be able to attend. The skeptic in me says that this was done on purpose as the easiest way to defeat the fee increase. Why? The easiest way to defeat the increase is by a majority in attendance filing written opposition. Since few people who oppose the measure can attend a 9:30 a.m. weekday meeting, the matter will go to the ballot - thus costing taxpayers even more money, even if it is eventually defeated.
Ray Russell January 06, 2013 at 08:17 PM
It wouldn't do any good to attend the hearings anyway. They never listen to what is said, they don't even have the civility to pay attention. I've attended many such meetings as this is the way they do business. They always have preconceived plans of action and everyone else is just in their way of doing what they are going to do. Your only real chance to be heard will come when ballots are mailed out. Watch for them and remember to vote!
Richard G Malooly January 07, 2013 at 12:15 AM
I agree with Ray. This is going to the Ballot. There is no way you are going to get fifty percent opposition with a write in. I would have too guess that are not twenty five percent that are even aware that this is going on. Yes, it will cost us all money to put it on the ballot but be grateful that it will have to surface. I am not opposedto the cncept, just the method.
Kathleen January 07, 2013 at 04:33 PM
Look, the beaches are cleaner than they were decades ago. After a storm, you don't go swimming in the ocean for a couple of days until the bacteria levels are down. How many of you go swimming in February? I don't have time to go to the meeting on a weekday because I am running my small business. I certainly don't have time to go swimming at the beach either. BTW, a strong showing of angry taxpaying, voters does get their attention.
joebanana January 18, 2013 at 01:09 AM
NO WAY ! The federal government claims to OWN ALL water, even rain water. It's ILLEGAL to collect rain water, let the federal idiots pay for their water pollution.


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