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COUNTY ELECTION / PROPOSITION B : $817-Million Bid to Improve Parks : Environment: Long Beach would be a major beneficiary, receiving $36.8 million.


It is 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 ballot has such a long name because it offers something for everyone, supporters say.

In the Southeast county alone, the $817-million county bond measure would pay for improvements or development of at least eight large parks.

And Long Beach would be a major beneficiary of the measure, receiving a total of $36.8 million to build new parks and refurbish old ones.

The measure also would distribute $140 million to the county's 86 cities and unincorporated areas, based on their population, to use for park and recreation projects of their choice. Norwalk, for example, would receive $1.5 million, South Gate $1.3 million, Huntington Park $828,000, Bell $457,000 and Artesia $241,000.

Los Angeles, a city 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 Prop. B is approved by two-thirds of the voters, the county would pay for 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.

Foes have also criticized the genesis of the measure, saying it was written primarily to benefit the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. The state agency would receive $76.5 million from the measure to preserve natural 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 Prop. B, said the measure was always 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, now campaign director for Prop. 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 an issue in the campaign.

She suggested that voters simply decide whether the proposed projects, including preservation of Santa Monica Mountains wild lands, are worth the extra tax cost.

Prop. B would raise $50 million for county beaches, including improving lifeguard towers and restrooms. It would provide $121 million to rehabilitate the Hollywood Bowl, the Los Angeles Zoo, Griffith Observatory and the county museums of art, natural history and 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 historical sites.

Long Beach's gains would start with the $6.8 million the city would receive as its share of the $140 million in grants to cities. That money would be used to repair aging parks all over the city, said Phil Hester, Long Beach's manager of parks.

The city would also get $13.3 million to buy up to 30 acres on the west side of town for a new regional park. Another $6.2 million would pay for adding nearly a city block to Martin Luther King Jr. Park and converting a swimming pool there to an indoor facility.

El Dorado Regional Park would become the site of a sports complex for adults, including new soccer and baseball fields, with a $5.5-million grant. The project would free neighborhood parks for use by children, Hester said.

Prop. B also would provide $1.5 million for refurbishing Belmont Pier; $1.5 million for new boat slips, parking and restrooms at Marine Stadium; $1 million toward buying land along the Los Angeles River for a running and cycling park, and $1 million for improving two historic sites: Rancho Los Cerritos and Rancho Los Alamitos.

Prop. B "is just critical from our standpoint if we are going to continue to meet the needs of our citizens," Hester said. "It not only allows us to get in place some parks where we have a shortage, but it will allow us to fix up some of our parks, which are extremely old."


Here is a list of some projects in Southeast Los Angeles County and Long Beach that would be funded by Proposition B, an $817-million bond proposal on Tuesday's ballot.


* Cerritos Regional County Park: improve the park and rehabilitate its lake and picnic areas.


* Bill Greene Aquatic Complex: construct a regional swimming pool facility.


* Belmont Pier: improve the pier, renovate fishing facilities and public access.

* El Dorado Regional Park: develop a sports complex with softball and soccer fields, and other recreational facilities.

* Historic ranchos: make restorations and improvements at Rancho Los Cerritos and Rancho Los Alamitos.

* Marine Stadium: make improvements including new boat slips, parking and restrooms, and acquire two park sites in Marine Stadium and Los Cerritos Channel.

* Martin Luther King Jr. Park: acquire and develop land adjacent to the existing park, and convert a swimming pool there to an indoor facility.

* River Park: develop park sites and build running and cycling trails next to the Los Angeles River.

* West Side Regional Park: acquire and develop up to 30 acres with ball diamonds and soccer fields.


* Whittier Hills: acquire natural lands and wildlife habitat adjacent to Hellman Park, develop trails and a visitor center.

* Whittier Narrows Recreation Area: rehabilitate and improve the heavily used county recreation area.

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