Measure W: Safe, Clean Water Tax
At the Pacific Palisades Community Council meeting last Thursday, Pamela Manning from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works urged residents to approve the 2.5 cents per-square-foot tax on impermeable space on private properties.
The Safe, Clean Water Ballot Initiative (Measure W parcel tax) will be on the November ballot and because it is a tax, must have 66.7 percent approval to pass.
Manning gave a site to visit (safecleanwaterla.org), where residents can see how much the yearly charge will be for their property. This writer visited the site and learned that the yearly bill for a single-story home with grass-crete would be $110.
According to a July 2018 L.A. Times story, “L.A. County Votes to Put New Property Tax Before Voters to Clean Storm Water,” “Revenue from the tax, estimated to amount to $300 million annually, would fund the construction, operation and maintenance of projects that collect, clean and conserve storm water. The average tax for a single-family house would be $83.”
At the time, County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said, “Can we ensure an adequate water supply for the future? Can we improve water quality? Can we make sure beaches are clean? The answer, happily, thanks to all of your work, is yes.” Government buildings, public schools and nonprofit organizations would be exempt.
We contacted the supervisor’s office and asked how this measure differs from Proposition O—the Clean Water Bond that passed in 2004 and authorized $500 million of general obligation bonds for “clearing pollution and funding improvements to protect water quality, provide flood protection increase water conservation, provide habitat protection and create open space.” (visit: lacitypropo.org.)
The Prop 0 site lists the projects completed and those under construction. Will Rogers State Beach has benefited from the storm-diversion projects completed through Prop O. Street, hillside and canyon run-off is sent to the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in El Segundo.
Local beaches that routinely received bad ratings from Heal the Bay now receive A’s and A+’s. (Visit: Healthebay.org/beach-report-card-2018)
A second Prop O project to capture storm water is located in Temescal Canyon Park, where a large holding tank is located under the playground (near PCH). Once stormwater is captured, it was to be used to irrigate the park. At the time of construction, the City was asked who would do the maintenance and they responded: the Bureau of Sanitation.
When this editor worked for the Palisadian-Post, numerous stories were written about this Proposition O project, including the day a worker lost his life when the ground caved in during the excavation for the underground tank.
Supervisor Kuehl’s office was contacted to see how this “new” clean-water measure would differ, and which specific construction projects would be done.
Spokesperson Barbara Osborn responded in an October 1 email that Prop O was limited because it didn’t include operations and maintenance. “The proposed Safe Clean Water Parcel Tax would provide funding for construction and O & M.”
Osborn was asked what construction has been proposed. She said, “Prop O was only to be used for capital expenditures. Measure W will also fund operations and maintenance which we believe is essential. There is no sense in building facilities if there is no money to operate and sustain them.”
She was asked if there’s a sunset on this particular tax or if it will go into perpetuity. “Measure W requires that the Board of Supervisors review the ongoing need for the revenue before the 30-year period,” she said. “There is no defined sunset, but there is a mandatory review.”