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L.A. officials propose $3-billion bond measure for May ballot

Two members of the Los Angeles City Council led a call Friday for a $3-billion street repair bond measure to go on the May 21 ballot, saying there isn't enough money to keep up with the backlog of needed repairs.

The proposed property tax hike comes less than two months after council members sent voters in the March 5 election a proposed half-cent sales tax increase, which is supposed to pay for public safety and other basic services. That measure is supposed to generate $215 million annually, with much of the money going toward police and fire services.

Councilman Mitch Englander, who introduced the proposal along with Councilman Joe Buscaino, said residents are already paying for the cost of the damaged streets through wear and tear on their cars. “The No. 1 complaint we get in our office is the condition of our streets,” Englander said. “This would be an opportunity to fix every single failed street citywide.”

Buscaino chief of staff Doane Liu said the new proposal, if approved, would add $24 annually to the property tax bill of a home valued at $350,000 in the first year of the bond measure. At its peak, the measure would add approximately $120 to the yearly property bill of such a home, he said. The proposal was also signed by Council President Herb Wesson and four other members  -- Tom LaBonge, Jose Huizar, Paul Krekorian and Paul Koretz.

The action drew criticism from Mike Eveloff, president of the Tract 7260 Homeowners Assn., who warned that the property tax hike could depress the city's economy and "break the camel's back" for taxpayers.

"Crisis management always costs 10 times more than good management, and this is just another example," he said. "The city’s reached a place where everything’s falling apart and now they’re saying 'Well, you don’t get good streets unless you pay more taxes, you won't get police unless you pay more taxes, and you won’t get a good fire department unless you pay more taxes.' So it gets a little frustrating."

Liu said his boss had gone over the proposal with officials from the Bureau of Street Services, which is responsible for road repairs. And he defended the timing of the bond measure, which -- if backed by the council -- would go to the voters in the May 21 runoff election for mayor and other city offices.

"Whether the sales tax passes or not, it doesn't fix these streets. We've got a 60-year backlog on streets and 8,700 lane miles that are category D or F" -- the worst ranking a street can receive, he said.

Englander represents the northwest San Fernando Valley, and Buscaino has a district stretching from Watts to San Pedro. In their proposal, the councilman said the city needed $300 million per year for the next decade to repair its streets.

The bond would last for 20 years but complete all of the repairs within 10, according to the proposal.

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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

twitter/davidzahniser


 

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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