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DRAIN PLAN REJECTED IN MAIL-IN BALLOTING HOMEOWNERS SAY 'NO' TO ADDED ASSESSMENT.

Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer

QUARTZ HILL - Property owners overwhelmingly rejected paying an annual assessment to help finance an underground drain that would channel the storm runoff that regularly inundates Quartz Hill streets and buildings.

In a mail-in election, formation of a drainage assessment district was opposed by 409 property owners out of the 698 ballots that were returned. The mail-in ballot had gone out to 1,876 property owners, according to Don Wolfe, the county's director of public works.

The assessment would have charged most homeowners $45 to $94 a year. The assessments would have paid for a two-mile-long storm drain, nearly 6 feet in diameter at its widest point, that would have been buried beneath 50th Street West from Avenue M-4 to Avenue K-8.

``We not going to give up on it,'' said Norm Hickling, field representative for county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who had pushed for the vote. ``We'll look at the data from this election. We'll talk with the community to find out what they liked, what they didn't like, and go from there.''

Quartz Hill Town Council President Ed Frommer said he was saddened but not surprised by the outcome. Frommer said he would like to see the county do a study looking at where the runoff water is coming from and make those responsible for that runoff contribute to a solution.

``Development has added to the water flow,'' Frommer said. ``Those people should be paying for what we're getting.''

Last winter, dozens of homes, businesses and garages - even the Quartz Hill library - flooded during a series of storms.

Fuming residents blamed the flooding on new homes and businesses built upstream in Palmdale, but Palmdale officials said they've spent millions on flood-control facilities in recent years.

Palmdale officials said they require new subdivisions' catch basins to take in more storm water than what flows onto the property naturally.

Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford said the vote was a missed opportunity for Quartz Hill residents to assist in addressing the flooding problem.

``I think we do a very good job of mitigating, but it won't eliminate all water heading to a bowl and that's what Quartz Hill is - a bowl,'' said Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford. ``There is a shared responsibility here. Everybody has to be part of the solution.''

Attention will now turn to a pair of advisory vote measures on next Tuesday's ballot aimed at gauging Antelope Valley citizens' interest in either creating a new flood control district or in joining the existing Los Angeles County flood control district. The vote is not binding, but rather is intended to measure the level of public support for what could be a long process.

Measure J asks voters whether they support creating an Antelope Valley flood control district. The district, expected to take three years to four years to create, would be financed with annual property assessment estimated to be about $150 to $200 per lot.

Measure K asks whether voters prefer to be annexed into the existing county district, which now ends at Avenue S. Annexation would take two years to three years. Annual lot assessments are estimated to be in the range of $125 to $175.

If there is interest, a committee would be formed to look at what type of flood control facilities should be put into place. More detailed engineering work, projected to cost in the range of $3 million to $4 million, would have to be conducted before a formal vote, with firm assessment costs, could be put before property owners.

In 1995, by a 4-1 margin, voters struck down a proposed flood control district that would have covered all of the Antelope Valley.

Opponents had argued that such a district would create an unneeded bureaucracy and that a joint powers agreement between the cities and Los Angeles County would be more practical. Efforts to fashion such an agreement, however, have failed.

Jim Skeen, (661) 267-5743

james.skeen(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 2, 2005
Words:658
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