Residents of Hancock Park were shocked to read in the “Los Angeles Times” that their streets are some of the worst in the city. And that is saying something as L.A.’s streets are the worst in the country.
Underlying the sorry condition of our lunar–cratered streets is the failure of the mayor and City Council to adequately fund the Street Services Dept. Over the last seven years they have diverted resources from our streets to fund the $1.4 billion increase in salaries, benefits and pension contributions for our city employees that have been extracted from our elected elite by the campaign funding leadership of our city’s unions.
To help fix our mean streets, Councilmen Englander and Buscaino have proposed issuing $3 billion of General Obligation bonds over the next 10 years to finance the repair of the third of our streets that require extensive resurfacing.
But this Street Repair Plan is not ready to be placed on the ballot.
Any plan to repair and maintain our streets must address not only our failed roads, but all of our 6,500 miles of streets and 800 miles of alleys. This new plan must also include financing arrangements so that our roads are properly maintained over the long term.
The proposed bond offering would be financed by raising our real estate taxes by up to $250 million a year, an increase of 6 percent. This would be in addition to the 30 percent that is already added to our taxes to pay for voted indebtedness (principally LAUSD) and direct assessments.
If the city proceeds with this proposed plan and tax increase, they will use our failed streets to demand a king’s ransom from homeowners. But the odds of two-thirds of the voters approving this plan are slim, especially given the complete lack of trust and confidence in City Hall as evidenced by 55 percent of the voters rejecting Proposition A, the permanent half cent increase in our sales tax.
Rather than holding our streets hostage, the City needs to develop a comprehensive and transparent plan for the repair and maintenance of ALL of our streets financed by the projected growth in existing sources of revenues rather than a new tax on our homes.
Jack Humphreville is on the board of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, chair of the DWP Advocacy Committee and a budget advocate.