Paying for the L.A. Cleanup

July 31, 2014
Kaspersen, Janice: Stormwater Editor
All Around the Nation


This blog has been reposted from the Stormwater Journal.

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By: Kaspersen, Janice: Stormwater Editor

Last week, I mentioned the Los Angeles County v. NRDC case, which was finally settled when the US Supreme Court declined to hear another appeal. Los Angeles County will now be responsible for the water quality in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers. The county had maintained that since much of the pollution came from upstream sources out of its jurisdiction, it should not be solely responsible for the cleanup.

Here’s another development in the case: Los Angeles County residents are now facing a tax to cover the costs. Some are calling it a “parcel fee” and others a “tax” (read here about why the terminology matters), but the county has proposed collecting the money by adding the amount to property owners’ tax bills.

The cleanup will cost an estimated $8 billion over 20 years. As reported in 2012 here and again this week here, no properties would be exempt, including those such as schools, churches, and government facilities that usually do not pay property taxes.

Some sample costs that have been reported: about $54 per year for a single-family home, $20 for a condo unit, $300 to $400 for a small business property like a convenience store, $8,000 for a school, and $15,000 for a big box store on a 15-acre lot. For some commercial buildings, the reported cost might be in the $200,000 range.

You can find more information, including a discussion of the county’s authority to levee taxes and fees, in the text of Assembly Bill 2554, introduced in 2010 while the lawsuit was still ongoing.