It's a ballot title long enough to take a voter's breath away: The Safer Neighborhood Parks, Tree-Planting, Gang Prevention, Senior Recreation, Beaches and Wildlife Bond Act.
Proposition B on Tuesday's General Election ballot has such a long name because it offers something for everyone, supporters say. In the San Gabriel Valley alone, the $817-million county bond measure would pay for new parks, a swimming complex, riding stables, a mountain camp for troubled youths and other projects.
The measure would also distribute $140 million to the county's 86 cities and unincorporated areas, based on their population, for park and recreation projects. Pasadena, for example, would receive $2.1 million, Pomona $1.9 million, Monterey Park $1 million, Glendora $767,000 and Azusa $619,000.
The city of Los Angeles, with a population of 3.4 million, would get more than $55 million.
Detractors, led by County Supervisor Pete Schabarum, say the measure is too expensive and unnecessarily raises property taxes. They derisively call it "park barrel" politics.
If Proposition B is approved by two-thirds of the voters, the county would finance the improvements by selling bonds, to be repaid over 20 years by property owners. The repayment would add about $20 a year--or $404 over 20 years--to the tax bill of a home assessed at $250,000, county officials said.
Opponents have also criticized the genesis of the measure, saying that it was written primarily to benefit the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. The state agency would receive $76.5 million from the measure to preserve mountain lands.
The "No on B" ballot argument calls the proposition's supporters "a group of self-serving individuals whose primary interest is to get the public to buy private land in the Santa Monica Mountains. They enticed others to support this bond measure by promising financing for their pet projects."
Esther Feldman, who conceived Proposition B, said the measure always was designed to include a wide range of projects around the county. "It was always my concept and idea to provide for all (of the county's) open-space needs and parks," Feldman said.
Feldman, now campaign director for Proposition B, conceded that she first proposed the county bond measure while working for an agency--the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority--that represents the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and two Ventura County park districts. But she said her affiliations should not be the issue.
She suggested voters should simply decide whether the proposed projects, including preservation of Santa Monica Mountains wildlands, are worth the extra tax cost.
Proposition B would raise $50 million for county beaches, including improving lifeguard towers and restrooms. It would pay a total of $121 million to rehabilitate the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles Zoo, Griffith Observatory, the County Museum of Natural History, the County Museum of Art and the California Museum of Science and Industry.
It would raise another $60 million for countywide programs to build trails, plant trees, clean up graffiti, improve natural rivers and rehabilitate historic sites.
Schabarum may not like the measure but, ironically, a park named after him--Schabarum Regional Park in Rowland Heights--would also benefit from the measure. The 583-acre park would get $2.5 million for construction of three tennis courts and two playing fields for soccer and football.
Schabarum park has hiking and riding trails and an equestrian center, but no athletic facilities.
SAN GABRIEL VALLEY AREA PARK PROJECTS Here is a list of projects in the San Gabriel Valley that would be funded by Proposition B, an $817-million county bond proposal on Tuesday's ballot. Alhambra: Granada Park Swim Complex. Reconstruct a regional pool.
Altadena: Eaton Canyon Park Nature Center. Acquire land and develop equestrian stables.
Arcadia: Arboretum. Improve and restore botanic garden.
Claremont Hills: Acquire hillside open space for park and natural lands.
Covina: Regional sports and group picnic complex. Develop 30 acres of athletic fields and park site.
Glendora: South Hills Park and Big Dalton wilderness park. Improve parks and protect wilderness.
Irwindale: Santa Fe Dam Regional Park. Develop and restore park.
Monrovia: Canyon Park. Develop nature center and handicapped access park in mountain area.
Mount Wilson: Observatory. Restoration and improvements.
Pasadena: Devil's Gate multi-use recreation area. Develop 350-acre recreational area and protect wildlife habitat.
Pasadena: Lower Arroyo Seco recreation area. Restore park site and preserve natural lands.
Pasadena: Brookside Park. Develop park site with trails and playing fields.
Rowland Heights: La Carreta Regional Park. Develop 50-acre park near La Habra Heights and Rowland Heights.
Rowland Heights: Schabarum Regional Park. Develop athletic facilities and soccer fields.
San Dimas: Horsethief Canyon Park Equestrian Center. Build equestrian center, staging area and trails.
San Gabriel: Develop a mountain camp or camps for troubled youths.
Sierra Madre Mountains: Acquire natural lands to preserve critical wildlife habitat, trails and scenic viewpoints in the foothills of the city of Sierra Madre.
West Covina: Galster Wilderness Park. Improve 43-acre park, Nature Center, trails and vista rest areas.