A parcel tax lands on the ballot this November. If Measure W goes through, property owners might have to pay a tax for impermeable land like driveways, patios, parking lots, rooftops and other paved surfaces that don’t absorb water.
Also known as the Safe Clean Water Program, Measure W would tax 2.5 cents per square foot of impermeable area. The tax would raise an estimated $300 million a year to capture billions of gallons of stormwater, clean it, and reuse it for future water supply. For the average homeowner in Los Angeles, this would be a fee of about $83 per year. Revenue would then be used to construct and maintain stormwater capture structures such as underground water collection vaults.
Proponents say the tax is important for the drought-stricken region as it could ultimately reduce the amount of imported water from other sources including the Eastern Sierra in Northern California and the Colorado River. They also argue that catching rainfall close to where it originally landed could lessen the amount of runoff pollution, leading to improved water quality.
Opponents argue that the measure lacks specificities for its projects in terms of costs, timelines, and expected results. Without independent oversight, opponents say, the funding from the tax would result in a blank check paid to the government. We debate the measure.