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Six Local Propositions on June Ballot Deserve 'Yes' Votes

May 08, 1994

Six local propositions appear on the June 7 ballot in Los Angeles County. Because each fulfills a special need in the affected community, The Times supports all six.

ALTADENA--PROPOSITION A: Authorizes an annual special assessment for five years to provide funds for the Altadena Library District.

Last June, the two-library district lost about a third of its revenue when the state eliminated a special augmentation fund. The state also shifted some of the library district's property tax funds to education. The district's total revenue loss last year was $430,000. As a result, it has cut library hours, laid off workers and dipped into its reserves. Without new funding, the main library soon will be open only four days a week and the branch library just two afternoons a week. Other programs will be cut too.

The cost of the special assessment for the average homeowner would be $29 per year for five years. For homeowners with annual incomes of less than $15,000 there would be no assessment. For commercial properties, the cost, depending on the parcel's size, would be $59 or $79. The assessments would raise $430,000 per year and restore library services to about what they were in 1991-92. The assessment "sunsets" in five years unless renewed. It requires a two-thirds majority. Vote for it.

HAWTHORNE--PROPOSITION B: Provides for the issuing of $15 million in Hawthorne School District bonds to fund safety and other improvements to school facilities. The bonds would make the district eligible for state matching building funds.

The highest tax rate any property holder would be assessed to fund the bonds (to repay the principal and interest) is estimated at .02% of assessed valuation. This peak in the tax rate probably would occur in fiscal year 1995-96. The district, whose trustees placed the measure on the ballot, is presently debt-free and has not asked the community to issue school bonds since 1963. The measure requires a two-thirds majority. Worth your vote.

DOWNEY--PROPOSITION C: Amends the City Charter to make the date of municipal elections the same as state general elections in even-numbered years.

Under the current charter, municipal elections are conducted at the same time as the statewide primary, now held in June of even-numbered years. Beginning in 1996, for those years when the presidential primary takes place, the state primary will be held in March. What this means for Downey is that because the terms for three city districts coincide with presidential election years, their elections will occur in March. Elections for the other two districts would continue to fall in June of their election years.

Proposition C, proposed by the City Council, would provide for municipal elections on the same day as state general elections in November of even-numbered years beginning in 1996. The measure would extend terms of present council members by five months. A reasonable proposal.

SANTA MONICA--PROPOSITION D and PROPOSITION E: A referendum on Santa Monica's Civic Center Specific Plan (CCSP).

A group opposed to the plan, Citizens for a Better Civic Center, put the measures on the ballot in the hope that the public would vote "no" and thus turn back the CCSP. The City Council unanimously adopted the CCSP, which establishes design and zoning policies, last November. The plan grew out of the desires of the city, county and the RAND Corp. (Santa Monica's third-largest private employer) to upgrade their facilities. The CCSP evolved through an open and extensive public process. It is a blueprint for a mutually beneficial public-private partnership. Among the community benefits is the trading of surface parking for parks and landscaped open space, as well as new and affordable housing and space for a modern police facility.

RAND would pay $14.9 million for public improvements, including a park behind the Civic Center and a public square on donated land in front of City Hall. The city would spend $12.2 million to build a parking garage, with the money coming from tax revenue earmarked for transportation uses. Opponents maintain the plan is environmentally reckless because the development is too big and would create gridlock. The increased traffic should be lessened by certain street realignments, including an extension of Olympic Boulevard.

A "yes" vote on Proposition D approves the adoption of the plan. "Yes" on Proposition E amends the city's general plan. Approval on both is needed to implement the plan. We recommend it.

SOUTH PASADENA--PROPOSITION L: A city ordinance instituting a five-year library special tax to maintain current services at South Pasadena's one library.

Reduced state funding has cost South Pasadena about $900,000 in the last two years. The city faces a deficit of $216,000 at the end of the 1993-94 fiscal year. The City Council wants to avoid continued tapping of reserve funds. The Police and Fire departments already have been trimmed. The library special tax would raise $219,500 next year. Homeowners' costs would range from $28 to $48 per year, depending on a home's square footage. Low-income homeowners would be exempt. The cost to commercial property owners would start at $24 per quarter acre, with a $96 limit. If in any year the library budget is reduced from its present level, the special tax must be similarly reduced. The measure needs a two-thirds majority. We urge a "yes" vote.

Voters have shown past willingness to approve taxes and measures that are tailored to specific needs of their communities. Clearly, each of the six local propositions on the June 7 ballot meets that description.

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