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Nov032014

Los Angeles County Ballot: "P" is for Parks, Prevention and Protection – or Profligacy?

Litigation Los AngelesEnvironmental Litigation  

Stephen T. Holzer
818.907.3299

 

The only initiative that affects all of Los Angeles County (there are 33 local/city ballot measures and six California propositions), Measure P covers a diverse range of interests.

The full title of Measure P is: Safe Neighborhood Parks, Gang Prevention, Youth/Senior Recreation, Beaches/Wildlife Protection Measure. The initiative seeks to ensure continued funding for these listed concerns via a $23 tax per parcel of land in Los Angeles County.

Proposition P aims to replace the expiring Proposition A, which was approved in 1992. Prop A generated $52M per year. The new measure will generate slightly more ($54M annually) for 30 years beginning July 1, 2015. The funds will be allocated as follows: 

  • 30 percent to maintain and develop open spaces, i.e. trails, mountains, rivers, wetlands and streams;

  • 20 percent to neighborhood parks and park projects, fields, gyms, playgrounds and restrooms;

  • 15 percent to beaches and clean water projects in beaches and parks;

  • 15 percent to maintain or improve existing and future parks;

  • 10 percent to increase parks, open spaces and recreational areas in disadvantaged communities;

  • 5 percent to nonprofit or public agencies that work with youth and seniors, those that plant trees or prevent graffiti, or those that work to increase public access to rivers and streams; and

  • The remaining 5 percent is allocated to administration. 

There seems to be few sources of opposition to Proposition P, but this side includes The Los Angeles Times and The Sierra Club. The editorial board at The Times decries the procedure employed to put P on the ballot, citing a secretive process excluding public hearings or a "needs assessment:"

It's irresponsible to begin divvying up more than $50 million each year without a clear sense of what the county and cities need most and how the money can most effectively be spent.

Additionally, The Times says explanations are needed, particularly regarding: 

  • Whether or not this tax will supplant some work covered by the storm water fee, given that some  Prop P funds are allocated to clean water projects;

  • Whether or not Prop P decreases the need for another parcel tax approved last year for districts around Hollywood Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains (which was also written to replace funds from the expiring Proposition A);

  • The change from a square foot tax formula to a flat per parcel tax. 

Support for Measure P is much greater. Organizations like AARP California, the City of Los Angeles, The Conservation Fund and many others are all in favor of voting yes because: 

  • City, state and federal budgets for parks and recreation has been cut – Prop P provides continuity of funding from an assessment already in place.

  • All funds remain local. The money generated stays in LA County and can only be allocated to the uses outlined in the measure. 

Whether or not Measure P will pass is anyone's guess, as it doesn't seem to be a priority question in polling.

Stephen T. Holzer is an Environmental and Business Litigation Attorney. Contact him directly via email: sholzer@lewitthackman.com, or by phone  at 818.907.3299 for more information. 

 

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