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Malibu Mayor, Councilman Support L.A. County's Proposed Clean Water Fee

Enough people speak out against a proposed fee for property owners to fund the cleanup of local waterways, forcing the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to rework the proposal.

Malibu Mayor Lou La Monte and Councilman Skylar Peak supported the idea of charging Los Angeles County property owners a fee to fund the cleanup of local waterways Tuesday before the Board of Supervisors.

The Malibu representatives were among the minority, as the proposal was met with enough opposition that the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to rework it.

"What is clear is that this is not ready for prime time,'' said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, a champion of the proposal.

Nearly 200 people turned up at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration for the public hearing on the proposed Clean Water, Clean Beaches measure. The majority spoke in opposition.

Those in favor hailed the plan as a cost-effective way to reduce urban runoff -- including trash and toxic substances like industrial solvents, lead, mercury and infection-causing bacteria -- into county waterways and the ocean.

"This measure is the most important water quality, water supply and flood control measure that the region has ever seen,'' said Mark Gold, associate director of UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and former president of the nonprofit Heal the Bay.

Malibu Mayor Lou La Monte encouraged the board to move forward. 

La Monte said Malibu has invested more than $60 million -- almost half its annual budget over the last six years -- to clean up runoff before it flows into the ocean.

"The Los Angeles County Flood Control District has worked collaboratively with municipalities and other stakeholders, who drafted an initiative that will charge a fair and reasonable service fee for cleaning up the polluted storm water that comes from every corner of this 4,000-square-mile county,'' La Monte said.

Peak said he also spoke in favor of cleaning up local waterways. 

"I asked them to be honest with the public and listen to the people’s comments in regard to the watershed. I hope that the ballot measure reflects the concerns of the public and that if it passes, although it would be hard to pass, I appreciate their efforts," Peak said. 

But those against the proposal characterized the fee as a tax that many could ill afford, argued that the measure offered little detail on how the money would be spent and said it duplicated other existing taxes and fees. 

"We are committed to environmental stewardship,'' said Burbank Vice Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, "However, we, the city of Burbank, remain opposed to this for a number of reasons,'' including because, she argued it would divert tens of thousands of dollars from public education.

Businesses -- including those in aviation, real estate, construction and metals manufacturing -- also raised concerns, some saying they are already paying to comply with environmental regulations they view as redundant.

Even some environmental agencies, largely in favor of the measure, called for changes before it goes to a vote.

Some residents argued that the mailing advising them of the proposed fee looked deceptively like junk mail and that the county was making it difficult to register their opposition. Others asked that the matter be put to a vote during an upcoming general election, rather than a mail-in vote by property owners, as originally planned.

More than 50 percent of property owners had to oppose the measure in writing in order to avoid a ballot on the proposed fee. Only about 4.3 percent had submitted an objection prior to the start of today's meeting, according to the Department of Public Works.

But the concerns raised were significant enough that Supervisor Don Knabe asked that the protest process be continued for another 60 days. He also recommended that county staffers consider a way to allow protests to be filed by email or online, a process for putting the initiative on a general election ballot, a sunset date for the measure, a specific list of projects to be funded, alternative funding sources and a way to address concerns of property owners already capturing and treating storm water.

The board's vote was 3-2 in favor of Knabe's motion, with Supervisors Gloria Molina and Antonovich dissenting.

Antonovich suggested instead that the clean water measure be eliminated entirely, which was voted down 2-3, with only Knabe adding his support.

A report is expected March 12.

Fred January 18, 2013 at 02:02 AM
Then why don't you stick to the Times and Post . Geeeezzzzeeeee
Cece Stein January 18, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Wow. that was brilliant Fred. Did you come up with that all on your own? The fact is if PATCH wants to provide a service to this community by providing local news and a forum to exchange insight on BOTH sides of a topic, they have an ethical responsibility to manage it properly. That includes ENFORCING their own terms and conditions. When PATCH allows intelligent thought provoking conversation between locals on important topics, it's an asset, by allowing personal attacks and malicious behavior - it becomes a detriment. I'm not the only one subjected to this, many others in this community, business owners and residents have been exposed to this behavior, viciously attacked by the same people, behind fake profiles. It's time for PATCH to regulate their users. If they can't afford to do financially, then unpaid interns from Pepperdine or other community colleges that need the hours to graduate. Whatever it is, it needs to be done.
Linda Rivera January 18, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Didn't the Patch ban Steve and Steph? They most likely didn't say anything as low brow and mean spirited as what Ed and Ben said about you, Cece. You didn't need to respond to their despicable comments.
Malibu Magoo January 18, 2013 at 05:21 PM
Hm... this is the internet. Much like Facebook, I don't believe Patch HAS to do anything. They get to decide what's ethical and what isn't. And, like Facebook, a user can choose not to participate. As long as we're off topic -- I use a fake name because I wouldn't post otherwise. I'm shy that way, don't have the self-confidence others do. I'm more comfortable incognito. I do agree, ad hominem attacks under a pseudonyms is a bit like graffiti. It's satisfies something personal in the perpetrator but defaces the public space. Something like that. If it happens enough on Patch and becomes too much of a distraction, or too distasteful, people will go away. You have to know that losing users or advertisers will figure more heavily into an internet company's admin policies than ethics.
Cece Stein January 18, 2013 at 05:34 PM
Thank you so much Linda for saying that. You're right, I didn't need to - but did anyway because this thread needed to go in a new direction - ethics and responsibility to this community. Steve and Steph never made comments on PATCH that would even remotely resemble the despicable nature of the people who hide behind fake profiles to viciously attack people they do not even know. I saw the lame excuse Jonathan gave Steve in an email. It was a joke and blatant bias ( lagoon ).

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