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Regional Report : SAN PEDRO : Letter Blitz Halts Proposed Tax on Businesses

March 06, 1994|GREG KRIKORIAN

After a furious letter-writing campaign, more than 200 merchants and property owners in downtown San Pedro have blocked a plan to tax their businesses for public improvements.

The proposed yearly assessments of $100 to $300 had the strong backing of Los Angeles City Councilman Rudy Svorinich Jr., whose district includes San Pedro. Some property owners within the community's central business district also supported it.

But opponents, calling the assessments excessive and unjustified, mounted a protest that led to letters from 236 of the 419 businesses in the area, generally bounded by Harbor Boulevard, Pacific Avenue and 3rd and 10th streets.

The letter-writing effort forced the city, under state law, to drop the assessment plan for at least a year because it was opposed by more than 50% of those it would affect. Svorinich plans to reintroduce the plan next year.

The proposal to establish the business improvement district was initially pushed by Svorinich's predecessor, Joan Milke Flores. She had responded to requests by some San Pedro businesses that the area be improved with better street lighting and other public works projects.

Under the plan Svorinich embraced after defeating Flores last year, the work was to be financed by an annual fee that would be assessed based on the type of business in the area. But almost from its inception, the plan ran afoul of many business owners who not only considered the assessments excessive but their purpose vague.

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