Update at 5:00 p.m.:
After listening to several hours of testimony, the supervisors decided to continue the hearing until March 12. While voicing concerns about the various objections raised to the proposed tax (and to the proposed vote-by-mail election), the supervisors directed staff to explore other possible ways to raise the money needed for stormwater pollution control.
Hundreds of people jammed the LA County Board of Supervisors meeting today. They came to be heard on a proposed parcel tax that would help fund new stormwater pollution controls.
The tax would cost the average homeowner about fifty dollars a year. The LA Unified School District and some cities don’t like it because they would pay much more than that.
Today’s hearing has been raucous at times, with homeowners, businesses, school districts and others protesting the process. Santa Clarita councilman TimBen Boydston said the tax would cost his city nearly half a million dollars a year. “I would like to congratulate our council and our august group of men and women here,” he said. “They have managed to do something that people thought was impossible. And that is, God sends us rain, and you figured out how to tax it.” That line got a lot of applause.
Environmental groups and supporters of the county’s plan were outnumbered by opponents, who booed a few speakers who talked about dirty beaches.
Former Heal the Bay chief Mark Gold, now at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, called this Clean Water, Clean Beaches measure “the most important water quality, water supply, and flood control measure that the region has ever seen.” Gold pointed out that the process was a long time coming. “This measure has been negotiated between the cities and the county, and enabled by state legislation, a process that has taken over five years,” he said.
Right now the supervisors are debating whether to delay for 90 days a decision on whether to hold a vote-by-mail election on the parcel tax.