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2 Councilmen Back $1.5 Billion for Road Repairs

April 13, 2006|Steve Hymon | Times Staff Writer

On the same day that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proposed hiking the garbage fee to pay for more police, two Los Angeles councilmen called for a $1.5-billion bond measure to repave and repair 4,000 miles of city streets.

The motion by Tony Cardenas and Greig Smith on Wednesday would put the bond measure before voters on the November ballot. If two-thirds of voters approve, it would raise property tax bills, on average, by $100 a year for 20 years.

In return, the councilmen said, residents would see 4,000 miles of city streets refurbished within eight years. The city has about 6,500 miles of roadways. The measure would include language that, in the ninth year, would require city legislators to find money to maintain the stepped-up repair rate.

"I want to see the streets repaired in my lifetime," said Cardenas, who is 43. "At the rate we're going, I'll be 123" before roads that need repaving are fixed.

He introduced the proposal with Smith, who is 57 and must live to 137 to see all the streets repaired at the current rate.

The proposal requires eight council votes to be placed on the ballot and must be passed before Aug. 10 if it is to go to voters in November.

Neither the votes nor the deadline seem to be much of an obstacle: Five other council members have indicated their support by signing the motion -- Jose Huizar, Alex Padilla, Bernard C. Parks, Ed Reyes and Dennis Zine.

There are politics involved. Council President Eric Garcetti, Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, who chairs the council's transportation committee, and Mayor Villaraigosa said they had not heard of the bond proposal until a reporter told them about it. Cardenas and Smith said they were trying to avoid open-meeting law violations.

The mayor is expected to unveil his own road-repair funding as part of his budget later this month; Cardenas and Villaraigosa have had their differences going back to their days together in the state Assembly.

In addition, the mayor and Garcetti are hoping to put a $1-billion housing bond measure on the November ballot and there remains the possibility that a multibillion-dollar state infrastructure bond could be in front of voters at the same time.

There has been talk of putting a street repair bond before voters for years, but it has never gone anywhere. Since the end of World War II, lawmakers have never budgeted enough money to maintain the streets, officials said.

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