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Special Districts

June 8, 1993
It is quite inaccurate to portray special districts as bloated, mismanaged fiefdoms, when in fact the opposite is true ("America's Forgotten Fiefdoms," May 26). Historically, the purpose of special districts has been to provide vital local services with maximum efficiency, flexibility and responsiveness to problems unique to the district, and minimum overhead and bureaucracy. A 1990 study by the state controller's office found that more than half the expenditures of non-enterprise special districts went directly to services and supplies, and only a little more than a quarter was spent on salaries and other personnel costs.
October 21, 2013 | By Jean Merl
Opening a new front on efforts to improve minority representation on local elected boards,  attorneys  representing several Latino citizens have accused the Coachella Valley Water District of violating the California Voting Rights Act. In a letter delivered Monday to John Powell, the district's board president, lawyers Robert Rubin and Megan Beaman said the district's  at-large election system "dilutes the ability of Latino constituents to...
June 20, 1993
I am tired of special districts being used as a scapegoat for voter ignorance and apathy, abuses by elected officials as well as staff, and for about every other ill that plagues government. Consolidation just will not solve voter apathy or ignorance. However, in the quest for a possible solution, I suggest the following: Let's just sweep all the special districts as well as all the cities in Orange County into one "super city" governed by the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
January 31, 2013 | By Adolfo Flores and Sam Allen, Los Angeles Times
In 1981, Johnny Johnson marched into the storefront headquarters of the tiny Sativa-Los Angeles County Water District in Willowbrook to complain about his water being shut off. He ended up deciding to run for a seat on the water board. Johnson has been a leader of the district ever since. Now 68, he oversees a staff of six full-time employees, including his wife and stepdaughter. For years, the district has operated without a budget, an auditor or a general manager. It can't afford to install water meters at the 1,500 homes it serves just north of Compton.
June 1, 1997
In his column ("The County Doesn't Need State's 'Help' on Consolidations," May 18), Supervisor Charles Smith correctly describes the role of the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) as "trying to right over 100 years of illogical city and special district boundaries in Orange County." I would further agree with Smith that the most important function of LAFCO in Orange County today is to encourage and promote the consolidation of special districts. Independent studies going back to the early 1980s have recommended reducing the number of independent special districts as a means of providing water and sanitation services in a more cost-efficient and accountable manner.
June 20, 1996 | KIMBERLY BROWER
City Council members expressed strong opposition this week to a plan that would merge all of the county's water, sanitation and other special districts into a single entity. A bill supported by Assembly Speaker Curt Pringle (R-Garden Grove) would consolidate the county's 25 special districts, 18 of which serve the South County, under the control of one governing board consisting of 10 members. City Manager Stephen B.
May 3, 1993 | LEN HALL
The City Council has directed its staff to prepare a report on consolidating the independent special districts in Dana Point, including those providing water, sewer and park services. Although the council stopped short of suggesting that the city should take over these services, it voted 3 to 2 Tuesday night to study how the seven water-related agencies in the city might be restructured.
Responding to recent revelations of excessive spending and gift-taking at an Orange County water district, Assemblyman Tom Umberg began pushing legislation Wednesday that would toughen disclosure requirements for special districts throughout the state. The Garden Grove Democrat said he decided to author the legislation after reading accounts in The Times about extravagant business expenses rung up by two top officials at the Santa Margarita Water District.
In the government-reform debate sparked by the county bankruptcy, the Irvine Ranch Water District is something of a Rorschach test. Supporters see the district as a model of good government, an innovative, responsible agency that charges some of the lowest water rates in the county yet still manages to maintain reserves of nearly $100 million.
November 6, 2012 | By Robert Greene
As voters mark their ballots Tuesday on three statewide tax measures, it's worth noting that there are many times and many ways to vote on taxes, and we're about to see a bunch of them. In addition to Propositions 30 , 38 and 39 , and  Measure J for Los Angeles County voters, some residents in or near the Santa Monica Mountains are finding that they live in a special district and could be subject to new parcel taxes to pay for parkland maintenance and acquisition. But at least that one will be found at the polling place and on election day, where and when voters would expect to find such a measure.
October 26, 2010 | By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
The state launched a website Monday on which Californians can see how much money cities and counties pay their workers, but dozens of municipalities have failed to file the information and could face fines of up to $5,000 unless they comply. The website was created by State Controller John Chiang in response to the Bell salary scandal. Users can search for the salary, pension benefits and other compensation for more than 594,000 city and county employees throughout California.
January 15, 2010 | By Garrett Therolf and Alexandra Zavis
Los Angeles County Assessor Rick Auerbach announced Tuesday that he will retire in March, before the end of his term later this year. "I've been with this office for 39 1/2 years now, been assessor for 10," he said. "I feel it's the right time. I've accomplished a lot of what I wanted to do." Auerbach, 61, asked the county Board of Supervisors to allow his assistant, Robert Quon, to lead the agency until a new assessor is elected in November. Quon has indicated that he will not be a candidate to permanently lead the largest property assessment agency in the nation, with more than 2.3 million real estate parcels, 1,450 employees and a budget of more than $157 million.
December 19, 2005 | Ronald Brownstein, Ronald Brownstein's column appears every Monday. See current and past Brownstein columns on The Times' website at
Iraqis shouldn't be too embarrassed if a few tallies look suspicious or some ballots disappear as the votes are counted in their landmark election last week. More than two centuries after we began the experiment, the U.S. is still trying to iron out all the kinks in its own democracy. Case in point: the Supreme Court's decision last week to hear a suit challenging the map Texas Republicans drew for the state's congressional districts. This case could spur a landmark decision.
April 19, 2004 | Hector Becerra, Times Staff Writer
More than a year after the San Fernando Valley's efforts to secede from Los Angeles failed, supporters and foes in the tenaciously waged campaign are rallying around a bill that would divide the city in one respect: statistically. Sponsored by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys), who opposed secession, the bill would require the city to provide state agencies with data exclusive to the San Fernando Valley. Mayor James K.
June 8, 2003 | Denise M. Bonilla, Times Staff Writer
In an effort to close a $3-million gap in next year's budget, Santa Ana is asking property owners to approve a maintenance assessment district, a move that some are calling both unnecessary and illegal. If the proposal is approved, homeowners would pay about $33 per year and apartment owners would be assessed about $24 per unit on an annual basis to pay for street, median and park maintenance, as well as graffiti removal and street lighting.
The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday backed a plan to increase public parkland in the Santa Monica Mountains by taxing property owners from Griffith Park to Topanga Canyon. The final say on the proposal will come from the property owners themselves as soon as next month. They will be asked by mail-in ballot whether each single-family home should be taxed $40 a year to buy open space near their homes, protect wildlife and clear brush for fire protection.
Ventura County supervisors Tuesday delayed taking steps necessary to create a land-preservation district, saying residents need more time to study the issue before they make a decision. Supervisors agreed unanimously to wait until their Dec. 11 meeting to vote on whether they will urge Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to move forward with legislation that will enable the county to create the district.
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