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L.A. council scraps plans for $3-billion street repair bond

The proposal is dropped after some lawmakers say more communication with the public is necessary.

January 16, 2013|By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles City Council abandoned plans Tuesday for placing a $3-billion street repair bond measure on the May 21 ballot, opting instead to consider it in a future election year.

Councilmen Mitchell Englander and Joe Buscaino, who had proposed the bond, said they would spend more time communicating with the public about the proposal before trying to send it to voters. "We're going to continue working on this, obviously," said Buscaino, whose district stretches from San Pedro to Watts.

The proposal, which would have increased property taxes for 20 years, had signatures from seven of the council's 15 members only two weeks ago. But in recent days, some on the council complained that there hadn't been enough outreach to the public.

Some neighborhood activists had warned that a protracted debate over the bond measure would doom passage of a proposed half-cent sales tax increase, which is on the March 5 ballot and being promoted as a way to eliminate potholes. The sales tax, known as Proposition A, is seen as a way of erasing a $220-million budget shortfall.

The search for street repair money is being driven in part by a fear that major sources of funding for road work are disappearing. Money from Proposition 1B, a state measure that provided $87 million for streets over a three-year period, runs out in June. Funding from President Obama's stimulus package was depleted in the summer.

A 2011 survey found that nearly one-third of the city's streets are in D or F condition, the worst rating possible. With the current funding available, repairing those streets will take 60 years, city officials said.

The general fund, which pays for basic services, provides less than 1% of the money allocated by the city for street maintenance and repairs. Nevertheless, city officials have managed to increase the amount spent on road work by tapping state and federal funding and special transportation taxes.

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