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CITY STREET BOND TO MISS BALLOT.

Byline: KERRY CAVANAUGH Staff Writer

After polling suggested that voters already will be overwhelmed by bonds on the November ballot, two Los Angeles city councilmen have decided not to push a $1.5 billion street paving bond for the upcoming election.

Councilmen Greig Smith and Tony Cardenas proposed the measure, which would have been the largest in city history, to fix an 80-year backlog of street repairs in eight years.

But after getting a lukewarm response from fellow council members and finding apathy and confusion among voters, the two Valley leaders said Thursday that they will stop pushing the measure for this election season.

``Everybody's opinion is that this is important and something we need to do. But because of the competing measures, the voter fatigue and the confusion, we felt it wasn't worth the risk,'' said Mitchell Englander, Smith's chief of staff.

There are 10 bond and tax measures already on the Nov. 7 ballot, including a $1 billion Los Angeles bond measure to develop affordable housing.

Measures on the ballot also include the governor's $37 billion infrastructure funding plan with four separate propositions to finance transportation, housing, schools and flood protection.

State measures appear before local ones on the ballot, raising concern that Los Angeles voters would approve the state transportation bond measure and then oppose the local one for street repairs.

``People were also confused with the infrastructure bond. They'd say, `Doesn't the state bond fix our streets?' and the answer is no,'' Englander said.

The state measure would dedicate funding for repairs to highways, not local streets.

Even some state politicians expressed concern that city bond measures could add to voter fatigue and jeopardize the state bonds.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Assembly Speaker Fabian NuIllegal 'X-value' for character STYLs voided here ez had raised concerns about putting the $1 billion local housing bond on the ballot, but Villaraigosa later said he reconsidered the housing crisis and would support the measure for November.

Englander said the mayor and state legislators did not attempt to influence the decision by Smith and Cardenas to postpone the street-repair measure. Their fellow council members voted last month to have the city attorney draft legal language needed to put the street-repair bonds before voters in November, but warned that the ballot was getting crowded and confusing.

That feedback and comments from potential voters convinced Smith and Cardenas they should postpone the measure.

``The timing is not right, considering the number of measures already on the ballot. And the street-repair intiative is too important to risk,'' Cardenas' spokeswoman Stacy Belew said.

The $1.5 billion street-paving bonds would cost property owners an average of $20 per $100,000 assessed value over 20 years, or roughly $60 annually for a house valued at $300,000.

Board of Public Works Commissioner Cynthia Ruiz said postponing the bond measure will allow more time to educate voters on the need to increase property taxes if they want speedier street repairs.

Over the last two years, Bureau of Street Services staff members have gone to about half of L.A.'s 86 neighborhood councils with a presentation on the maintenance backlog, and Ruiz said she hopes delaying the bond vote will allow the bureau to finish that outreach.

``It would have been more devastating if we (had called for a November vote) and lost. We might as well make sure we're fully prepared before we go out to voters.''

kerry.cavanaugh(at)dailynews.com

(213) 978-0390
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 11, 2006
Words:578
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