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Voter Guide 2000 | PROPOSITION F

Measure Would Upgrade Fire Stations, Shelters

Backers say bond issue is needed to address a public safety crisis. Opponents say money raised in past years was not put to good use.

November 05, 2000|TINA DAUNT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Los Angeles voters must decide whether to tax home and property owners an extra $33.60 per year to overhaul the city's outdated fire stations and animal shelters.

Proposition F on the November ballot calls for issuing $532.6 million in bonds--to be repaid over the next 25 years--to address what public officials are calling a public safety crisis.

The City Council in July authorized the ballot measure, arguing that without the new facilities, the city cannot adequately house and care for thousands of animals that end up in six overcrowded shelters each year. Officials also believe the city's fire stations are not designed to house the number of firefighters and paramedics or equipment needed to adequately respond to emergencies.

The measure calls for replacing 18 fire stations in areas throughout the city, building a new fire station in San Pedro and constructing a new helicopter maintenance facility at the Van Nuys Airport. It also calls for replacing three existing animal shelters, building two new ones and renovating three existing facilities.

"This measure is critical for public safety in the city," said Councilman Mike Feuer, who led the effort on behalf of the ballot measure. "It will get Fire Department vehicles to people faster and assure that we get more animals off the street and treat them humanely when we do."

Opponents of the measure, however, argue that the city has not adequately used the money it raised from past bond measures to fund other facilities. "Since 1989, Los Angeles taxpayers have been paying higher taxes for police facilities that have still not been built," opponents wrote in the ballot argument. "Why give a city that does not keep its promises an additional $532 million of your tax money? They should build the promised stations first."

The opponents--led largely by homeowners groups from the San Fernando Valley--also argue that the tax increase will make it more difficult for the Valley, the Harbor areas and Hollywood to become separate cities, if groups pressing for their secession ever win a place on the ballot. In addition, they say, the city needs to raise money to address its paramedic crisis, not to build new facilities.

But Feuer disputes the allegations.

"Whether or not the Valley becomes its own city, clearly residents there need to have top-quality emergency fire and animal services," he said.

Although he acknowledged that the city did not build two police stations approved on a ballot measure 11 years ago, he said safeguards have been put in place to ensure that City Hall delivers on its ballot promises.

"Very stringent oversight measures have been put in place," Feuer said. "We have made so many strides forward. It would not be fair to reinvent history from a ballot measure 11 years ago."

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