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Proposed Parks Bond Measure Moves Closer to November Ballot

Recreation: County OKs a June hearing on the use of $270 million to purchase new sites and maintain existing areas.

May 01, 1996|JEFFREY L. RABIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A $270-million bond issue to purchase new parks and maintain and improve existing parks in Los Angeles County moved one step closer to the November ballot when the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday set a public hearing for June to finalize the proposal.

Encouraged by voters' approval of a larger 1992 park bond measure, backers of the latest measure won approval for the hearing on a 3-1 vote just before the supervisors left for a two-day lobbying trip to Washington.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky urged approval, saying the measure would cost the average homeowner $6 a year in increased assessments while providing funding for parks from the Santa Monica Mountains to recreational facilities in the inner city.

"We talk about crime, we talk about jails, we talk about juvenile hall," Yaroslavsky said. "If you don't give kids an alternative to a life of gangs and illegal activity, they are going to get involved in illegal activity. We have got to give youngsters an alternative to the streets and that is parks and gymnasiums, nature trails and programs, Little Leagues and basketball leagues."

Although the specific park programs are subject to change after the June 13 hearing, the measure as drafted includes proposed projects in regional parks across the county.

Board Chairman Mike Antonovich said his vote in favor of the public hearing was a qualified yes because of "serious reservations" that his vast district, which includes the largest amount of unincorporated territory in the county, would not receive its fair share of the park bond money.

The measure reserves $5 million to improve, acquire and develop park and recreational facilities throughout unincorporated areas, but contains $120 million for projects in cities.

About $23 million is also reserved for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to acquire sensitive and critical mountain and canyon lands, streams and scenic areas, and to develop parks, trails and camps in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valley foothills.

Antonovich said he was concerned that large sums of money in the bond measure would be devoted to the Santa Monica Mountains.

But Yaroslavsky said the bond measure would provide money to ring the entire San Fernando Valley, including the Santa Clarita and Santa Susana areas.

Representatives from the cities of Santa Clarita and Glendora appeared before the board to endorse the bond measure.

The wish list of projects in the San Fernando Valley area includes funds for habitat restoration and bikeways in the Sepulveda Basin, a regional community center in the Agoura Hills/Calabasas area, campground facilities and an adult recreation center in Burbank, a regional park and acquisition of a portion of the Santa Clara River valley to preserve wetlands in Santa Clarita, a desert woodland preserve in Lancaster, a youth activity center and bikeway along Pacoima Wash in San Fernando, watershed protection in Calabasas, and a 40-acre park in Westlake Village.

The measure also includes $126.7 million for a broad array of park projects throughout the county, $18 million for further improvements to the Hollywood Bowl, and $21.3 million for such key regional facilities as Exposition Park, Museum of Natural History, Whittier-Puente Hills and Santa Monica Bay.

County Parks and Recreation Director Rod Cooper pledged that he will make "an effort to try to balance out all of the competing forces" before the bond measure is finalized.

Supervisor Gloria Molina voted against holding the hearing and Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke was absent.

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