YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Orange County

Seal Beach Voters Reject Fee Hikes

Environment: Property owners turn down more frequent street sweeping, higher tree-trimming cost.


Signaling a reluctance to pay more to clean urban runoff, Seal Beach property owners voted against increasing fees for more frequent street sweeping in the city, officials announced Tuesday.

Voters also rejected an increase in the fee for tree-trimming service in the city. The votes were registered in a special mail-in election for property owners. Ballots were mailed to 4,855 eligible voters, and 2,544 (52.4%) responded.

Both questions were overwhelmingly rejected, but city officials were especially disappointed in the failure of the street-sweeping fee increase.

"If you're not willing to pay 12 bucks a year for better quality of water, what are you willing to do?" City Manager John B. Bahorski said.

The measure asked voters to approve nearly tripling the fee from its current 50 cents a month to $1.46 a month for single-family homes. The money would have been used to increase street sweeping from twice a month to once a week.

Urban runoff--a stew of pesticides, oil and liquid waste--is considered one of the major causes of ocean pollution that has forced the periodic closure of beaches in Orange County.

Seal Beach officials said a new generation of street sweepers helps collect the material before it reaches the ocean. Sweepers of the 1980s would catch litter and large dust particles, but miss the fine, highly contaminated sediment, including pesticides, automotive byproducts and toxic substances that researchers believe was washed down storm drains and into the waterways and the ocean.

The street-sweeping measure failed 1,554 (61.3%) to 977 (38.6%). The tree-trimming fee increase failed 1,597 (63.3%) to 924 (36.6%).

Los Angeles Times Articles