NEWS: VICTORY: Supes Scrap Water Parcel Tax Measure – New Effort Targets 2014

Posted March 12th, 2013

Today we are pleased to report that the LA County Board of Supervisors voted NOT TO PROCEED with the proposed “Clean Water, Clean Beaches” parcel tax measure. This is a big victory for the business community, and indeed for all of the diverse stakeholders who ultimately concluded that too many problems remained with the proposal.

BizFed’s Water Quality Parcel Tax Working Group, chaired by Mike Lewis, Construction Industry Coalition on Water Quality, has engaged in months of detailed and painstaking work on this issue. While we appreciate the good-faith efforts of the Department of Public Works to address our various concerns (and they did make some improvements), far too many problems remained.

THANK YOU to the broad and diverse group of BizFed members and others who joined with our BizFed Coalition to speak out at hearings, in Supervisors’ offices, in writing, in the press, and on the phone to make sure the voice of the business community was heard!

Here is a summary of the joint motion offered by Supervisors Molina and Knabe and seconded by Supervisor Antonovich, which passed by a 4-1 vote:

·The Board of Supervisors shall close the Protest Hearing and not proceed with the Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure at this time.

·Instructs the LA County Chief Executive Officer to send a letter to the Regional Water Quality Control Board requesting that the Board work with DPW and the cities in the County to educate the public about storm water pollution.

·Instruct the CEO and DPW to continue to work with the business community, school districts, and non-profits to address their concerns.

·Direct the CEO to report back regarding the necessary steps the County must take should the Board decide to place this item on a general election ballot, and determine potential future election dates, with the goal of either the June 2014 or November 2014 ballot, to ensure transparency to the public.

·Instruct DPW to provide the Board with quarterly status reports, the first of which being in 90 days, including the status of the Regional Water Quality Control Board’s implementation and enforcement of the MS4 permit and a report of all existing revenues that could be used for storm water pollution compliance.

·Instruct DPW to designate a staff person within the department to act as the Unincorporated Storm Water Manager, who will report quarterly on storm water compliance in the unincorporated areas.

(Note: Supervisor Antonovich ultimately voted against the motion because he believes storm water cleanup is a federal and state, and not a county, responsibility.)

One key problem with the “Clean Water, Clean Beaches” proposal was the insistence that it be pursued as a Proposition 218 fee, which blocked the County’s ability to develop a more fair, effective, efficient approach. (For example, existing regulated permit holders, property owners already paying for 100% mitigation, and other categories of property cannot legally be exempted from fees under a Prop 218 process.) The motion passed today makes it crystal clear that, should anything move forward at a future date, it must go to a general election ballot, which opens the door to more fair, effective, win-win solutions to address storm water pollution.

Please take a moment to thank the LA County Board of Supervisors for their leadership. Send them each a quick note like this: “I join BizFed in thanking you for stopping the ‘Clean Water, Clean Beaches’ parcel tax from moving forward. Your show of leadership today protects us from paying for a flawed plan and paves the way for a future, collaborative process to develop a fair and effective solution that could earn the broad support necessary to actually solve the problem.” Here are their email addresses:

 

The challenge of complying with regional, state, and federal storm water requirements isn’t going away, and the Board clearly expects continued dialogue seeking to address the problem, so BizFed will continue to stay engaged. Today’s victory demonstrates the effective voice we can have when the business community stands together. Congratulations!

HERE’S A RECAP OF OUR PREVIOUS ACTIONS ON THIS ISSUE:

*Updated 3.8.13: See BizFed’s Action Alerts at Right – Your input is needed Tuesday March 12th to keep this measure from moving forward.* In a significant win for the LA County business community, the Board of Supervisors today voted to delay moving forward with a proposed Water Benefit Assessment Fee on property owners. The decision on the “Clean Water, Clean Beaches” Measure came  after more than 4.5 hours of public testimony – including by 25 BizFed members – and an hour of debate among the Supervisors.

All five LA County Supervisors acknowledged our coalition’s key point that the measure isn’t ready for prime time.

After they passed the following motion, offered and moved by Knabe, modified and seconded by Yaroslavksy, with Ridley-Thomas, Knabe, and Yaroslavsky voting “yes” and Antonovich and Molina voting “no”:

  1. The protest process shall remain open for 60 days, delaying further Board of Supervisors action until March 12 and allowing parcel owners additional time to submit protest forms.
  2. The final, revised ordinance must be completed and made available to the public before any election is scheduled.
  3. LA County Department of Public Works staff is directed to report back to the Board of Supervisors within 60 days:

1. An assessment of the feasibility of adding an on-line process for filing protests

2. Details for the Board of Supervisors to consider the option of putting the measure on a general election ballot (rather than a mail-in ballot among parcel owners)

3. Revising the measure to include a sunset clause of not more than 30 years

4.A list of projects that would be funded by the measure

5. Revising the measure to provide for credits or reductions for properties already performing storm water runoff pollution abatement

6. Alternative options for funding storm water runoff pollution abatement

As you can see, this closely tracks what we have been asking for. THANK YOU to the 25 BizFed members who testified today:

Will Wright, American Institute of Architects; Jim Clarke, Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles; LaDonna DiCamillo, BNSF Railway; Michael Beasley, Boeing; Martha Cox-Nitikman, BOMA of Greater LA; Holly Schroeder, Building Industry Association; Lauren Lewow, California Apartment Association; James Simonelli, California Metals Coalition; Mike Lewis, Construction Industry Coalition on Water Quality; Jaime Garcia, Hospital Association of Southern California; Lisa Bailey, Irwindale Chamber of Commerce; Frank Lopez, LA Area Chamber of Commerce; Christina Davis, LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce; Weston Labar, Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce; Dennis Daze, Majestic Realty Co.; Kevin Ivey, NAIOP SoCal Chapter; Cynthia Kurtz, San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership; Albert Chang, San Gabriel Valley Regional Chamber of CommerceJonas; Peterson, Santa Clarita Economic Development Corp; Horace Heidt, United Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley; Elizabeth Martyn, Union Pacific Railroad; Pilar Hoyos, Watson Land Company; David Evans, Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association

Thanks also to everyone who has worked these past weeks to make sure our voices were heard. Stay tuned for more information and next steps as we continue our work with DPW to try to ensure our concerns are addressed before anything moves forward.

READ MORE ON THE MEASURE in our Action Alerts section. And stay engaged!

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