The Los Angeles City Council put off a vote Wednesday on a proposed $3 billion bond measure that would raise property taxes to pay for years of street repairs.
The measure has not received support from the city's neighborhood councils. The proposal was formally announced last Friday in order to meet a deadline to place it on the May 21 ballot. City Council President Herb Wesson delayed the vote on the measure until Tuesday.
Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch Englander made his pitch for the $3 billion road repair bond issue Tuesday night to representatives of Neighborhood Councils from across the city, but the Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates voted 13-1 against the measure. They added their voice to that of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition, decrying what they called the "City Council's predilection for precluding the Neighborhood Councils and their stakeholders from weighing in on citywide measures." The council in December approved placing a half-cent sales tax on the March municipal primary ballot without consulting Neighborhood Councils.
"We all recognize the streets need to be fixed," said Jay Handal, chairman of the Budget Advocates committee. "Our argument is about the fact that the council has again given us 24 hours notice to look at a $3 billion issue."
If the bond measure were approved, the owner of a $350,000 home would see an annual property tax increase of about $24 the first year, rising to a peak of $113 a year, Councilman Joe Buscaino, co-sponsor of the measure told the Daily News. Construction will create 30,000 local private jobs, not city jobs, Englander told the Budget Advocates.
Neighborhood Council representatives complained that they had never been informed about the bond proposal and demanded a 60-day delay in order to give the city's 95 local boards an opportunity to review the plan.
Englander, who represents much of the northwest Valley, has been flogging the idea since before he was elected, at meetings of the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council, the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council and the Chatsworth Community Coordinating Council, as well as other venues in his district.
Englander spokesman Matt Myerhoff told Patch that the bond proposal has been undergoing "back-end work" for months, and Englander had to move quickly in order to meet a deadline to add it to the May 21 ballot while interest rates are low.
Wednesday's motion only "directs the city attorney to draw up the ballot language," Myerhoff said, and a complete street inventory is required before the plan can move forward.
Neighborhood Council coalition's Chairman Terrence Gomes, in an open letter to 95 Neighborhood Council presidents, complained that said the surprise introduction of the $3 billion bond proposal came without warning or public notice.
"They did this without any input from the public or the Neighborhood Councils that represent the stakeholders that will have to shoulder the eventual burden," Gomes said.
Englander and Buscaino, who represents the San Pedro area, are about to launch an explanatory website and are planning extensive outreach and four regional meetings before the City Council takes a final vote on Jan. 29.
"We are planning to meet with the Neighborhood Councils and other groups to explain the proposal," Englander told the Daily News. "This really isn't new. I have been working on this since I was chief deputy to (former Councilman) Greig Smith."
The bond proposal would appear on the same ballot as the mayoral runoff election as well as two initiatives dealing with medical marijuana.
Englander told Streetsblog LA that sidewalk repair isn't being left behind, it would be paid for with money left over from road repairs.
“You can only bond for projects that are specifically listed by law,” he said. “We have conditions for all 28,000 lane miles. We know where all 9,000 lane miles that are in failed and degraded condition are at. With sidewalks … they haven’t been inventoried yet.”
“Not a dime is allowed to go into the general fund or any other program, other than sidewalk reconstruction or the road repair fund,” Englander said.
For more see:
- $3 Billion Los Angeles Street Repair Bond Issue Proposed
This article was compiled with information from City News Service.