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LA County considers new property tax to fund the capture of stormwater, we debate the impact

Water from the Hansen dam is redirected into the Tujunga Wash.
Water from the Hansen dam is redirected into the Tujunga Wash.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set to vote next week on whether to place a new property tax on the November ballot that would pay for capturing and cleaning up stormwater.

Under the proposed parcel tax, property owners would be charged 2.5 cents per square foot of “impermeable” surface. To determine the tax liability of each landlord, the county has used satellite imagery to examine each parcel and calculate the impermeable surface area. Areas that would be subject to the proposed tax include driveways, parking lots, concrete patios and any surface that fails to allow rainwater to infiltrate into the ground.

County officials estimate that the tax would raise $300 million a year to pay for drought awareness, workforce training, job assistance for the homeless and more clean-up. Most of the money would be used to construct projects to capture stormwater and filter it into underground aquifers where it would increase the amount and quality of California’s domestic water supply.

Proponents of the measure say that the parcel tax would enable the region to better survive droughts and reduce pollution. Critics on the other hand are concerned that the new tax would burden homeowners and will not do much to the environment.

Meanwhile, businesses would face the heftiest taxes. Among those who would be impacted by the new property tax are retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing facilities and apartment buildings. We debate the measure.


Sharon McNary, KPCC’s infrastructure correspondent; she tweets @KPCCsharon

Lauren Ahkiam, director of water projects at the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), a Los Angeles-based nonprofit advocacy group that endorses the stormwater measure; former senior research and policy analyst on LAANE’s waste and recycling campaigns

Leonard Gilroy, director of government reform at Reason Foundation, a non-profit think tank advancing free markets; he tweets @lengilroy