Diamond Bar Property Owners to Be Asked to OK Tax

The LA County Board of Supes voted Tuesday to ask property owners to consider a tax to fund the clean up of drinking water and local waterways.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors -- in a 3-2 vote -- Tuesday approved a plan to ask property owners to OK a tax to clean up drinking water and local waterways.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky urged approval of the "Clean Water, Clean Beaches Water Quality" fee.

"This initiative is critically important," he said. "If we don't do this ... we will have this imposed on us by a court, by a regulatory agency or by both."

Public works employees have been working since 2008 -- in coordination with at least 60 municipalities, environmental organizations and other interested parties -- to reach consensus on how to address the county's runoff pollution and improve the quality of its drinking water.

Los Angeles County waterways are fouled with trash, infection-causing bacteria and toxic chemicals, according to Gail Farber, director of the Department of Public Works, who said storm water runoff is a leading cause of water pollution.

Agencies and municipalities within the county spent an estimated $340 million to control pollutants in fiscal year 2010-11, Farber said, estimating the cost of complying with existing water-quality regulations to be in the billions of dollars.

The proposed fee would raise an estimated $276 million annually from more than 2 million property owners -- an average of about $135 per owner -- though fees would vary widely because they would be proportionate to the amount of property owned and runoff generated by paved areas and rooftops.

Under the plan, those dollars would be split between the Flood Control District, nine watershed areas set up to manage clean-up projects and the 87 cities that make up the county.

Before any tax goes into effect, property owners will have a chance to object at a public hearing and then -- unless a majority of owners object in writing -- to vote on the matter by mail-in ballot, currently scheduled for March.

Supervisors Michael Antonovich and Don Knabe objected to the mail-in ballots, saying residents should have the chance to vote on the measure as part of a general election.

Antonovich characterized the plan to mail ballots to property owners as a "sneak attack."

Under the plan as it stands, the fee must be approved by a majority of property owners who respond by mailing back ballots on the measure. But if many owners fail to respond at all, a low percentage of total owners could pass the tax.

Knabe, who represents Diamond Bar, said polling showed that the measure would fail and that it amounted to "taxing the electorate for something that is a state and federal responsibility."

Yaroslavsky recommended giving special consideration to financially- strapped school districts that would be subject to the tax, if approved.

The board agreed and asked public works employees to work closely with school officials to ensure that they are part of the group overseeing the cleanup plan and that the schools can use some of the funds raised to build their own water quality projects and pay for programs to educate the public on clean water issues.

Supervisors Gloria Molina and Mark Ridley-Thomas joined Yaroslavsky in voting for the measure.

"It's not a small thing" that the clean-up program will create 3,600 jobs, Ridley-Thomas said.

Based on the board's approval, the county will schedule a public hearing on the matter.

--Elizabeth Marcellino, City News Service

Lydia Plunk July 06, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Dear SPG- Whether or not CA is the gross highest tax state or not- by all measures it is up there. Many or our friends, relatives, neighbors and employers have left the state due to high taxes and regulations. Poor employment prospects and a high cost of living escallated the exodus. I respect your right to make a decision based upon studies. As studies are not always accurate indicators and subject to manipulation based upon the goal, it would be wise to consider that anecdotal information is also important. You presuppose, based upon a different opinion regarding the effects of ACA that I have a narrow field of information and that I don't favor a health safety net. You are wrong on both counts. What I favor is increasing accesibily through easing access to care. Try to diagram the ACA bill and explain how that labyrynth simplifies access to health care with a straight face. To be affordable- the solution needs to be targeted. We need to encourage people to become health providers- which this bill does not do. What it does do is make it more likely to enhance the patient relationship to the IRS instead of the doctor. Fact- The changes to Flexible Spending coming Jan 1 courtesy or ACA raised the effective cost of health care for people we know who used it to help pay their health care costs by that $700 you mentioned. That is before the added tax . Or before the added premiums, which will come because administering that monstrosity is more costly.
DB_Dbag July 06, 2012 at 09:56 PM
I completely agree with Lydia, we should not consider studies because they are notorious biased and not based upon peer reviews by the scientific and professional community. We have to focus more on anecdotal evidence of a few individuals to surmise public policy for the community as a whole. For example, there was a great article in the from Time.com where a N.H. Legislator noticed a causal link between kindergarten and crime rate. In short, the earlier you educate, the more likely the child is to commit a crime. This outside the box kind of legislative thinking is what we need to direct our policy. FACT - http://news.yahoo.com/does-kindergarten-lead-to-crime--fact-checking-n-h--legislator-s--research-.html
Truthy July 07, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Who needs facts? Facts get in the way of truth. Facts are for Democrats( Commie Pinkos)
Neighbor July 08, 2012 at 03:32 AM
NO MORE TAXES. Got it Zev? Until you and the other idiots on the BOS resolve some of the problems we have already, you can figure on a majority NO vote on any more of your half-baked tax and spend initiatives. What the hell don't you understand about the current economic state of affairs?
Ray Russell August 28, 2012 at 06:53 PM
But these new taxes will create 3,600 new jobs. Oh yeah I forgot, new government jobs. More people to eat up our taxes and lets see, maybe require even more money in the future to support. Would that maybe require more taxes. Please lets reduce government size and spending, not increase it. How about better use of the money that is allready being collected, first.


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