Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Alert to homeowners: a property tax hike may be in your future

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Home values are rising again and so are tax revenues for cities and counties.

Before Los Angeles County CEO Bill Fujioka sat down Monday to present his proposed budget for the next fiscal year, he let out a hearty laugh as he joked with reporters. The CEO is in a good mood these days as an improving economy produces more tax revenues.

Fujioka is projecting a four-percent increase in property tax revenues for the fiscal year that starts July 1. During the recession, hundreds of thousands of California homeowners asked for the value of their homes to be reassessed and for their property taxes to be lowered accordingly. Now, counties across the state are reassessing again and raising taxes as home values rise.

“In many cases, we had lowered the assessed value of a home by 10-to-12 percent less than base value,” said Orange County Assessor Webster Guillory.  The base value is the price of the home when it was purchased by the current owner.


Big dollars raised in Congressional race to replace Henry Waxman (Updated)

Marianne Williamson

Sharon McNary/KPCC

Marianne Williamson, seen here at a February campaign event, has raised more money to date than any other candidate in the race to succeed retiring Congressman Henry Waxman.

When the veteran Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman announced in late January he wouldn't seek re-election in the 33rd District, it set off a mad dash for the rare open seat on L.A.'s Westside and opened the floodgates for campaign contributions.

Now, the contest to replace him is shaping up to be one of the most expensive races in California. The top five fundraisers in the race collected $3.6 million dollars in the first quarter of this year — and there's still a month-and-a-half before the June 3 primary. 

There are well-known politicians in the race, including State Senator Ted Lieu and former L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel. But their fundraising efforts from January-to-March were eclipsed by a little-known fellow Democrat.

Attorney David Kanuth raised $798,453 without any support from political action committees and without lending or giving his campaign any of his own money. 


Mayor Eric Garcetti, Jay-Z to announce concert in Grand Park

2012 London Paralympics - Closing Ceremony

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Jay Z will be at L.A. City Hall on Wednesday to announce the Made in America Festival.

Rapper Jay-Z and Mayor Eric Garcetti are expected Wednesday to announce the Made in America festival in Grand Park over Labor Day weekend, even though the City Council has yet to approve a festival permit and downtown L.A.'s Councilman, Jose Huizar, has raised concerns about street closures and crowd control.

The announcement at City Hall comes two weeks after the festival's permit application was made public by Huizar. The original application called for some sidewalks and roads around the Civic Center to be closed for as many as 10 days. The concert is expected to attract as many as 50,000 concertgoers — about twice the capacity of Grand Park. 

RELATED: LA councilman balks at plans for Jay-Z summer festival in Grand Park (updated)

Huizar complained that he was not notified by the mayor's office that the event was in the works, even though it would take place in his district. It is typically seen as a professional courtesy  to loop in the council member on major events in their district.


State Controller's audit finds Cudahy spending was out of control

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California state controller John Chiang audited the city of Cudahy and found widespread financial irregularities.

There were virtually no controls over spending of taxpayer dollars by city officials in Cudahy, state Controller John Chiang said in an audit released Tuesday.

The audit found city leaders misspent millions of dollars in state and federal grants and misallocated some $22 million dollars in redevelopment funds. Cudahy is a small city— just barely more than one square mile —  with 24,000 residents in Southeast L.A. County. 

Well-run cities in California have 79 standard rules in place to safeguard taxpayers money, Cudahy was observing only eight, the audit said. Chiang also said Cudahy city council meetings were not property recorded and city budgets were adopted months later than required.  

Cudahy officials did not respond to questions about the audits Tuesday afternoon in advance of an evening news conference scheduled by the city. 


Changes coming to Los Angeles' trash collection system in 2017


Flickr Creative Commons/LAWad

Dramatic changes to the city's sanitation system will take effect in 2017, affecting landlords of apartment and commercial buildings.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a new city law Tuesday that will dramatically change the way garbage is collected from apartment buildings and businesses.

The current system allows landlords to contract directly with trash haulers. The new franchise system will divide the city into zones served exclusively by haulers approved by the city. It also requires the city to divert 90 percent of its trash to recycling by 2025. 

The mayor signed the ordinance on the steps of City Hall.

"By 2017 we'll have this in place," Garcetti said. "We're going to start putting out in the field right now the most progressive request for proposals, request for information from companies that are interested in becoming the franchisees."  

The Board of Public Works is expected to begin the contracting process in June.