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Santa Clarita Official Calls For Support Of Stormwater 'Tax' Protest

City Councilwoman Marsha McLean emphasized the need for all Santa Clarita Valley property owners to speak up on the Clean Water, Clean Beaches Act, joining a county supervisor and other local officials who have protested the measure since its proposal.

The measure was put off during a county Board of Supervisors meeting in January, but the measure is up for discussion again March 12 at a county board meeting in downtown Los Angeles. 


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"In this day and age, that's not another cost that we need to bear," McLean said. "Especially, since we have our own program that's in compliance with stormwater regulations. Our residents already pay the fee, so this would be double taxation so to speak." 

The city would face an increase of about $460,000 in its annual tax bill from the county because its open spaces would be taxed, she said. 

City Council members already have unanimously approved a resolution condemning the fee, which adds roughly $57 a year to the fee total for single-family home lots, and has no limit for what it would charge all other businesses, nonprofits and all other county properties.

For example, local school districts would face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees if the measure were to be approved. 

Supervisor Michael Antonovich's office is paying for buses for local residents who wish to voice their opinion on the measure at the March 12 hearing. The effort is being coordinated with the help of city officials at no cost to local residents. 

ORIGINAL STORY
City officials are set to discuss a stormwater measure Tuesday that would levy a new tax against most L.A. County residents.

The fee doesn’t have a purpose or direction, but it could mean thousands of dollars for  nonprofits, businesses and even multi-family homes, a county official said Friday.

"The fee is coming down as a result of the (water quality) standards,” said Edel Vizcarra, planning deputy for Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who repeatedly has warned residents of the “fee” that has been suggested by the Los Angeles County Flood Control District.

“What the district is telling us is that there are high levels of pollutants and metals in the water,” Vizcarra said. “But it’s very difficult to point to one area -- (Antonovich) feels that it’s a state issue, not a local issue.”

Santa Clarita City Council members are set to discuss the fee, which Councilwoman Marsha McLean equated to “double taxation,” at Tuesday’s meeting.

Los Angeles city and county collectively spends approximately $300 million each year to stay in compliance with state water standards that have become increasingly more stringent each year, according to county officials. 

One of the bigger issues with the fee, which Antonovich says is actually a tax, is that the flood district hasn’t identified what the revenue would pay for, Vizcarra said.

"We don’t even know what is going to be built yet,” he said. “We haven’t identified any of the projects, yet we’d be taxing people for something that may or may not occur.”

Due to procedures set in place by Proposition 218, a majority of 2.2 million affected - 1.1 million residents plus one, according to Vizcarra -- would need to protest the fine in order to stop the fee, an unlikely scenario despite the problems associated with it.


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If this doesn’t occur by Jan. 15 when a hearing is scheduled, then residents would likely see the fee on a mail-in ballot in March, Vizcarra said. That would be the last chance residents would have to stop the fee, which could then also be passed by a simple majority.

While the fee places a cap on single-family residences, schools and nonprofits are not exempt. Phyllis Ishisaka, superintendent of Glendale Unified, which is considered a smaller district, expressed concern that the fee collectively would cost her schools about $250,000. 

A church estimated its cost at about $4,000, and big-lot stores such as Target or Costco could be hit with fees that would cost around $11,000 to $12,000, Vizcarra said.

The supervisor has asked for time for alternatives, but in the meantime, the City Council is expected to direct staff to file a protest on behalf of all properties owned in the city. 

“One of the things (we’re looking at is) that maybe there’s a way to find one-time money so that people don’t have to be taxed,” Vizcarra said. “But we don’t know what the project is. And when you have environmental groups taking issue with taxes for environmental purposes, then you know there’s a problem.”