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Governor Kills Bill for Study of Crumbling Foundations

October 04, 1987|MARK GLADSTONE | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Gov. George Deukmejian has vetoed a bill to set aside $350,000 for a geologic study to pinpoint what is causing foundations of homes in Lakewood, La Palma and Cypress to crumble.

On the heels of the veto, two Southeast-area lawmakers vowed to revive the proposal when the Legislature returns to Sacramento in January.

The bill rejected by the governor would have directed California State University, Long Beach, to study the mysterious problem of deteriorating foundations--thought to be tied to high salt content in the soil--and report back to the Legislature.

Passed Both Houses

The measure sailed through both houses of the Legislature on a unanimous vote on Sept. 11. But in his veto message last Thursday, Deukmejian sided with the university's opinion that it would be "inappropriate" for the Long Beach university to conduct the research. He said the university opposed the bill "because their policy requires that all requests for state funds must come from the Board of Trustees and be appropriated to them."

In an interview, Sen. Cecil N. Green (D-Norwalk) assailed the reasons cited by the governor and university to oppose the bill. He branded "that kind of thinking" as "narrow and tunnel vision"

Further, Green said: "I think it (the veto) is terrible and I don't know where to put the blame. The people in this area need the study very badly. . . . There's no way to know the scope of the problem unless a study is done."

Inserted Into Bill

In the final weeks of the legislative session in September, Green and Assembly members Paul E. Zeltner (R-Lakewood) and Doris Allen (R-Cypress) had inserted the funds for the study into a bill by Assemblyman Gary A. Condit (D-Ceres) that dealt with tax losses associated with agricultural preserves. Deukmejian also rejected the agricultural provision.

The study of the foundations was to have been completed by Dec. 31, 1988 and would have directed Cal State Long Beach to review water quality, the water table, soil composition and any geologic factors causing the crumbling of the foundations.

Residents of the Sunshine Homes tract in Lakewood were among the first to complain about the problem earlier this year. They maintain that foundations of as many as 100 homes have begun to disintegrate because of acid-like sulfates in the soil.

James Jensen, director of governmental affairs in the capital for the 19-campus California State University system, said the university's opposition is tied to its policy, not to whether the foundations pose a problem that should be studied.

Jensen said that in July the governor turned down a number of university programs in the state budget and the university could not now accept funds for research that it had not even sought. "We had a hell of a lot higher priorities than that," Jensen said.

Further, he noted, the university has a policy that all funds must be funneled to the system as a whole, not a specific campus. "Otherwise," he said, "we'd have 19 (campuses) making end runs."

Jensen suggested that the university might not oppose future legislation that would direct the state Division of Mines and Geology to oversee the study and contract for the research with Cal State Long Beach.

Green said that he plans to look at other options, possibly introducing a bill to have the state contract with a private firm for the study.

Carrie Harper, an aide to Zeltner, said Zeltner was aware that Deukmejian might veto the Condit bill. "Paul's obviously disappointed and we told the governor's office we would pursue something in January," she said.

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