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ELECTION RECOMMENDATION

Vote Yes on Building Safety

October 14, 2002

Measure A, called the "earthquake and fire safety bond" on the Nov. 5 ballot, would authorize Los Angeles County to issue up to $250 million in general obligation bonds for eight cultural facilities countywide. The measure has many strong points, the major one being a requirement that the facilities match the bond funds with private donations. On a ballot filled with pleas for money, it would place the smallest burden on local taxpayers, costing the owner of a $250,000 home about $6 the first year and declining over the bond's 30-year lifetime.

This ballot measure would allot $98 million for the county Natural History Museum, built in 1913 and clearly in need of safety improvements. Safety, for museums and all other public buildings, is a public responsibility. Deferred maintenance costs more in the long run. An additional $98 million would go to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which needs safety improvements, with or without the planned make-over by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.

The money also would be used for new projects. The measure would allocate $15 million each for a planned performing arts center at Cal State Northridge and a planned cultural arts complex near El Pueblo de Los Angeles historic district, and $8 million for a performing arts center in the San Gabriel Valley. Yes, these projects involve more than just making old buildings safer. A citizens oversight committee would ensure that county money would be spent only on earthquake and safety infrastructure, both in retrofitting old buildings and constructing new ones. Private money would pay for anything else.

Measure A is supported not only by leaders in the arts but by earthquake and fire officials. Six bucks a year is a very small price to pay to keep up Los Angeles County's museums and cultural centers. Vote yes on Measure A.

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