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Donna McCord Basail: Citizens can stop beach tax

Posted: February 1, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 1, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

Dante Alighieri once said, “The secret of getting things done is to act!” It is so refreshing to see what can happen when a group of concerned citizens decides to act.

This is what occurred recently with regards to the latest money grab also known as the “Clean Water, Clean Beaches” measure.

Our county supervisors, their attorneys and staff, spent $3 million dollars to develop this junk mail-looking brochure and just happened to mail it out around Dec. 12. Most property owners discarded it as junk mail.

(For the record, the Santa Clarita Valley’s supervisor, Mike Antonovich, opposes the Clean Water, Clean Beaches fee.)

Fortunately, not all were fooled, and several of us even organized a protest letter campaign and showed up for the Board of Supervisors’ meeting downtown on Jan. 15.

There was standing room only in the main chamber and many others who watched from the overflow room. Out of the 200 people who spoke, there were 35 in support of the new tax. The majority were against it.

Some 95,000 protests were received prior to the meeting. The Board of Supervisors decided to postpone a decision to go forward with this proposed tax until March 12.

Maybe they are hoping no one will make another trip down and they can just pass this $290 million slush fund without opposition.

Who doesn’t want clean water and clean beaches? The answer is simple: We all do. The problem with this proposal is all property owners will be charged a fee based on the size and type of property they own.

My current tax bill shows I am already paying a sewer fee and there are no sewers anywhere close to my home. For a residential home, the fee could be approximately $83 per year. Mine is $93 per year.

A homeowner who owns a lot of acreage could pay $18,000 per year or more, and local businesses are even higher. Are property owners the only ones who pollute?

Many of the protesters were from school districts in and around L.A. County who would be charged upwards of $250,000 per year.

Outrageous? Yes. Most of the school districts asked that they be exempted from these fees because they just don’t have the money.

What about the small business owner who will now have to pay an additional $24,000 per year — or the apartment owner in a “rent control” building who will not be able to pass this tax on to his tenants?

This is a tax that will affect every property owner in Los Angeles County, including churches, cities, mobile home parks and nonprofits.

Let’s get rid of the remaining businesses who have managed to survive in California over the last few years. Throw another tax on us.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that L.A. County is not liable for billions of gallons of urban storm water runoff. Why are we still going forward with this fee?

According to the brochure, the measure does not earmark the money to be used for any specific project. It could be used for all kinds of projects, including educating students or adults about pollution, street sweeping, providing parks and ball fields and “protecting public health and safety.”

Of course, it could also generate thousands of new jobs. The fee, if established, would run until the Board of Supervisors decides it has enough money. That will be never.

How can you help?

If you did not get a form in the mail or you lost it or threw it away, you can write a short note saying “I protest the proposed clean water fee.” The only other information you need on your letter is your assessor’s parcel number (found on your tax bill) and your name and address with your signature. Only one letter per household.

That’s it. Two minutes and the cost of a stamp to try to save a minimum of $83. Mail your letter to arrive before the hearing on March 12 to:



Executive Officer

Board of Supervisors

P.O. Box 866006

Los Angeles, CA 90086



We can no longer sit on the sidelines and hope someone else will fight to keep our government under control. We must all do our part. Join us in the fight.

Please tell all the property owners you know that we need their help. We can stop this fee. And please send a letter of protest. You can fight City Hall.

If you would like more info on this proposed tax please go to www.LACountyCleanWater.org.

Donna McCord Basail is a concerned resident of Agua Dulce. “Right Here, Right Now” runs Fridays in The Signal.

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