The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to continue moving forward with a potential parks funding measure Tuesday morning.
County officials are working with The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit with expertise in public finance measures for parks and open space, to create a plan to put more funding into local parks and open spaces.
The Board of Supervisors directed the county’s Regional Parks and Open Space District to research potential funding mechanisms to fund park priorities stemming from the county’s new “needs assessment” report, which synthesizes the wishes of the public that were gathered in meetings held throughout the county over the last year.
Two types of parks bond funding mechanisms are under consideration: a “uniform amount flat rate” parcel tax and a “uniform amount square footage” parcel tax. The latter is more favored, according to county polling.
Based on the number of taxable parcels in Los Angeles County – 2,346,578 – the county would need to a flat rate of $34 per parcel to generate roughly $80 million in annual revenue, according to the report.
In 2014, the county placed a parcel tax measure on the ballot to support development, acquisition, improvement, restoration and maintenance of parks, recreational, cultural and community facilities, and open space lands within the County. Proposition P authorized a $23 per parcel tax to replace the expiring (1992) assessment.
The measure received 62 percent voter support, falling just short of the two-thirds vote requirement.
The “uniform amount square footage” parcel tax could be levied in the same sway the county’s trauma tax is levied, according to the report. For example, a tax of 3 cents per square foot would generate approximately $191 million annually and would cost the average single-family homeowner about $45 per year.
Either option would give the Board of Supervisors the option to adjust the annually, based on the Consumer Price Index.
Park and open space funding levels have remained unchanged since 1996, while the population and park assets have increased, leading to significant challenges, according to the report.
A parcel tax based on square footage can come closer to accommodating the urgent needs for increasing park access and maintaining safe and clean existing parks, the report said.
With the parcel tax based on square footage, multi-unit properties would pay more than single family homes of a similar per unit size and larger businesses with more employees would pay a higher share than a single family home, as well.
The next step in the process is to move forward with “preparing to place a uniform amount square footage parcel tax on the ballot for voter consideration,” according to the report, and to “conduct further public opinion research to test assumptions related to the willingness to pay, refine ballot language and understand how voters view the priorities identified by the Needs Assessment Report.”
Informational meetings are planned to be held all over Los Angeles County. One will be held in Santa Clarita on Tuesday, May 17 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at William S. Hart Park, 24151 Newhall Avenue, Newhall, 91321.