Citing unclear goals or a plan for the massive amount of revenue it would generate, county supervisors passed a resolution tabling the Clean Water, Clean Beaches proposal for 90 days Tuesday, with a 4-1 vote.
The resolution aimed to put the proposal on the ballot for Los Angeles County taxpayers some time in 2014, which Supervisor Michael Antonovich said he would never support.
“I would object on the basis that this is a state responsibility. We can all agree that clean water is a necessity and it’s a state issue,” Antonovich said. “Why is this on the back of the local taxpayer?”
During the hearing, which lasted more than four hours and heard more than 100 comments — similar to the last time the proposal was reviewed by the county’s Board of Supervisors, familiar concerns associated with the controversial measure were rehashed.
If passed, the proposal would generate more than $200 million for the county.
Samuel Unger, a representative for the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, said the motion would help address needed compliance and water supply issues that would face the county over the next several decades.
However, he acknowledged a perceived lack of information about the benefits that such a measure would have in the long term.
“It appears as though the benefits have not been well articulated to the city councils,” Unger said.
Supervisor Gloria Molina said the misunderstanding was much wider spread, and for good cause.
“We haven’t identified what those projects are, and we’re asking for an awful lot of money,” Molina said. “I just don’t want a guessing game. It doesn’t seem like it’s ready to go to taxpayers.”
As far as Antonovich was concerned, the measure should never go to taxpayers on a county level.
“It seems like it was really geared against the people, and more for another tax,” he said.
[Supervisor Antonovich] – Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich cast the lone “no” vote on a motion by Supervisors Molina and Knabe to close the protest hearing and look into putting the tax measure on the ballot in 2014.
“Stormwater cleanup is the state’s responsibility and the legislature and Governor need to develop a statewide approach to solving this problem,” said Antonovich. “County residents, school districts, businesses and churches should not be burdened with higher taxes to support another state unfunded mandate.”
[Supervisor Knabe] – Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, in a joint motion with Supervisor Gloria Molina, today put forth a motion to stop the Clean Water, Clean Beaches initiative in its current form and work with stakeholders to develop a new measure that addresses the concerns voiced by the public over the last several months. The Board also asked for quarterly progress reports and a target election date of June or November 2014. He issued the following statement on its approval:
“While I have long supported efforts to ensure clean water and beaches, I have been against this measure from the beginning as it was not fair and transparent in content or process,” said Supervisor Knabe. “We must start over. Unfortunately, our stormwater problem is exacerbated by the expensive, and often unrealistic, demands placed on us by the Regional Water Quality Control Board which increased the Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) from two pollutants in the old permit to 33 pollutants, which would cost this region tens of billions of dollars to comply with in the next 20 years alone.
A regional, integrated approach to this issue is absolutely critical to develop an economically feasible solution. However, the current measure did not outline a specific list of projects. Voters have a right to know where their money is going. Also, it was a fee with no end date. I believe more accountability is necessary for voters to support this program. That is why I asked that our Department of Public Works continue its outreach to cities, school districts, non-profits and the business community, our job creators, to address their concerns about rate reductions and double-taxation issues on those already making efforts to capture and clean their storm water under existing State and Federal mandates.
Finally, should this Board in the future decide to move forward with a new Clean Water, Clean Beaches measure, it should be put before the voters in a general election ballot and not through a mail-in ballot, as was originally proposed. I appreciate the public taking the time to attend our board meetings and voice their concerns through the many messages and phone calls to our offices. The approval of today’s motion shows that you were heard.”