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VOTER GUIDE | MUNICIPAL ISSUES

Local Ballots Seek Taxes and Changes

Recreational land, crime prevention, an NFL team for the Rose Bowl, beach cleanups and clean government are among cities' concerns.

October 15, 2006|Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writer

Voters in some Los Angeles County cities will be asked to consider local ballot items. There are 18 measures, not including those for school districts, in cities outside Los Angeles. Here are some of them:

Claremont

Spread over 183 acres in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, Johnson's Pasture is a favorite escape for hikers and nature lovers in eastern Los Angeles County. After the parcel's owners indicated that they wanted to sell it, Claremont officials proposed adding the area to a preserve in the San Gabriel Valley Wildlife Corridor.

With Measure S, voters will be asked to allow Claremont to issue $12.5 million in general obligation bonds over a maximum of 30 years. If the plan is approved with the required two-thirds vote, the average annual cost to city property owners would be about $25 per $100,000 of annual assessed value.

No official argument against the measure was submitted.

Earlier this year, Claremont property owners rejected a proposed assessment for the parcel's purchase and area park improvements. Next month's bond measure focuses solely on the Johnson's Pasture property.

Inglewood

Residents voted overwhelmingly two years ago to keep Wal-Mart from building a Supercenter that was projected to create 1,200 jobs and generate $3 million to $5 million in sales tax revenue to improve police services and build community centers.

Inglewood is now asking voters to approve an increase in the city sales tax to 8.75% from 8.25%. The added tax would generate an estimated $4.4 million to boost crime prevention programs and fund improvements in police, fire and paramedic services.

Opponents say there's no need for more taxes in a city where revenue has jumped 45% over the last decade, most of it from higher fees and taxes. Supporters, including Mayor Roosevelt Dorn, contend that the funds are necessary to maintain sufficient services.

Pasadena

The Rose Bowl is one of the most recognizable stadiums in the country. But despite playing host to big events, including several Super Bowls, the venerable stadium has no professional football team. Measure A, which requires majority approval, asks local voters to decide whether the National Football League can renovate the Rose Bowl for use by a pro football team.

Even with a "yes" vote, the likelihood of pro football in Pasadena seems remote, especially as the NFL recently spent $10 million to initiate design studies for possible stadiums in Los Angeles and Anaheim.

The proposed face lift would reduce seating capacity at the venue from 92,000 to 75,000 and the maximum number of annual major events there would increase from 12 to 25.

Supporters, including the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, say the measure is a winner for Pasadena because the NFL would pick up the tab for the $500 million in changes to the stadium and add $42 million to the city coffers. Opponents, led by Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, say the project, which was voted down in 2005 by the City Council, would jam already congested city streets by adding 38,000 automobile trips while displacing recreational activities in the surrounding Arroyo Seco.

A second measure deals with City Charter reforms intended to combat the corrupting influence of money in municipal politics by barring officials from accepting funds from those with city contracts.

Santa Monica

Santa Monica voters will consider four initiatives.

The most contentious is Proposition W, the Good Government Act of 2006, which opponents say would gut the controversial Oaks Amendment approved by voters in 2000. One of the toughest clean-government laws in the country, it prohibits elected officials from profiting from their positions. The city attorney contends that the law is unconstitutional. Supporters of Proposition W say it would prohibit use of public office for economic gain. Opponents say it would have the opposite effect, allowing council members to take campaign cash from anyone doing business with the city.

Proposition U would alter the City Charter to give the city manager the power to hire and fire city department heads without having to get approval from boards and commissions. Supporters note that Santa Monica would be following such cities as Beverly Hills, Burbank, Culver City and Long Beach that have exempted department heads from civil service in an effort to make government more responsive. Opponents fear the measure would give the city manager too much power.

Heal the Bay likes Proposition V, which would levy a parcel tax for cleaning up heavily polluted beaches and Santa Monica Bay. The state's stricter clean water standards will require Santa Monica to fund beach and bay cleanups and improve flood control, proponents say. Opponents say cleanup is Los Angeles County's responsibility.

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