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City Voters to Decide 7 Ballot Measures Tuesday : South-Central Area Police Tax, Sewage System Bond Issue Highlight Election

May 31, 1987|VICTOR MERINA and RICHARD SIMON | Times Staff Writers

Los Angeles City voters will decide seven ballot measures Tuesday, ranging from a proposal authorizing the sale of $500 million in revenue bonds to finance improvements in the city sewer system to a police tax plan that has lost the support of its principal backer.

The on-again, off-again decision of Councilman Robert Farrell to withdraw his backing of Proposition 7--a measure that would tax South-Central residents to pay for additional police--has defused what was the only controversial ballot measure.

The tax proposal, which needs a two-thirds vote Tuesday to be approved, would result in a $148-a-year property tax increase for the average homeowner in four police divisions--77th Street, Newton, Southeast and Southwest.

Seen as Discriminatory

The measure is designed to pay for 300 more police officers to patrol some of the city's worst crime-ridden neighborhoods. But the tax proposal has also caused a furor among those who see it as a discriminatory tax against the largely poor, heavily black population of the South-Central area.

With Farrell's turnaround, there is no organized campaign to promote the tax. Opponents, however, have launched a massive campaign to ensure that the measure is soundly defeated.

Meanwhile, voters citywide will have a chance to cast ballots on six other measures including Proposition 6, a $500-million bond issue that would partly finance a $2.3-million program to upgrade the city's antiquated sewer system.

The program is partly in response to a federal mandate to increase treatment of sewage dumped into Santa Monica Bay. The bonds would be repaid through increased sewer service charges, sewer hookup fees and an industrial waste surcharge. The average household charge of $5.50 per month now is expected to increase to $5.65 next year, and will rise gradually to $11 per month in 1994.

No Opposition

No argument in opposition to the measure was submitted to the city for publication in the sample ballot, nor was any opposition cited against the remaining ballot measures.

They are:

- Charter Amendment 1, which would require the city attorney to prepare titles and "fair and impartial" summaries of ballot initiatives. Currently, initiative sponsors prepare the titles and summaries. The amendment results from complaints that names of previous initiatives, such as "Jobs With Peace," were confusing to voters.

- Charter Amendment 2, which would allow the City Council to reschedule city elections that conflict with religious holidays and other times that might reduce turnout. The measure stems from objections raised by Orthodox Jews to the primary election last April 14, which fell on Passover. Forbidden by religious law to write on holy days, Orthodox Jews could not sign their names in the polling place on Passover.

- Charter Amendment 3, which would also permit rescheduling of school board elections for religious reasons.

- Charter Amendment 4, which would require placing initiatives before voters in the next election instead of the next citywide election, as currently required. "This change will clarify the law and require initiative measures to be put on the ballot promptly," says the ballot argument in favor of the amendment.

- Charter Amendment 5, which supporters say would close loopholes in the city's campaign reform law, approved by voters in 1985. It would give the city clerk subpoena power. That would remove the kind of roadblock faced by city investigators in the case of Councilman Richard Alatorre, accused last year of violating campaign laws. Alatorre declined to turn over his records to city officials, hampering the probe, which ended with Alatorre agreeing to pay $220,000 in fines and restitutions. The measure also would give the city clerk authority to hire investigators and establish civil penalties in addition to the existing criminal penalties for violations of the law.

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