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Broad Donates to Bond Effort

The philanthropist gives $1.19 million and lends $1 million to Measure A drive to improve county cultural facilities.

November 02, 2002|Christopher Reynolds | Times Staff Writer

Philanthropist Eli Broad has given $1.19 million and lent $1 million to the campaign for Measure A, an earthquake and fire safety bond measure that would provide $250 million in capital improvement funds to cultural facilities, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

In filings with the county clerk, backers of the measure reported a Broad contribution of $1,189,027.14 on Oct. 15. He made the $1-million loan nine days later.

The pro-Measure A forces had raised $4.9 million in contributions and loans through late October.

Most of the campaign's spending has gone for mailers and 30-second television spots, which began running on several stations in mid-October.

Measure A's opponents have spent nothing, according to county records.

Under the ballot item's provisions, the county would provide $98 million each to LACMA and the Natural History Museum, but each institution would have to privately raise $112.5 million in matching funds by November 2012.

An additional $54 million in bond money would be distributed among cultural facilities around the county, including performing arts facilities to be built at Cal State Northridge and in the San Gabriel Valley, and a cultural arts complex planned for El Pueblo de Los Angeles historic district downtown.

Some of those projects require privately raised matching funds to release the bond money.

The measure needs two-thirds voter approval to pass, a target that was beyond the reach of most initiatives in the last round of county and state elections.

For the owner of a $250,000 home, passage of Measure A would mean a property tax boost of $6.96 in the first year, with the amount steadily declining over the next 29 years.

Broad, chairman of Sun-america Corp. and a longtime donor to local cultural causes, has already hinted that he'll be handing over more than $23 million to help LACMA in its plan to raze most of its buildings and put up a new complex designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.

Museum officials say it's too early in the design process to give a solid figure for the effort's cost, but museum sources have cited $300 million as a ballpark figure.

The Natural History Museum, subject to several additions and renovations over the decades, was built in 1913.

Officials plan a renovation and expansion with a tentative price tag of $300 million.

In ballot arguments over the measure, backers stress that the capital spending would boost earthquake and fire safety.

In opposing the measure, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. argues that the bond issue would be a cultural subsidy in disguise.

No building at LACMA predates 1960, and no building at either museum has been restricted because of unsafe conditions.

Other donations to the campaign for Measure A include $1.95 million from Museum Associates (a private, nonprofit group associated with LACMA); $500,000 from the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History Foundation; $100,000 from former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan; $25,000 from Newport Beach developer and philanthropist Donald Bren; and $5,000 from Bank of America.

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