Printer Friendly

TIMING ON BOND PLAN DEBATED $1 BILLION LOCAL HOUSING MEASURE COULD GET LOST ON CROWDED BALLOT.

Byline: KERRY CAVANAUGH Staff Writer

Los Angeles City Council leaders and housing advocates want to put a $1 billion local housing bond on the November ballot despite concerns that it may get lost among six other bond measures up for a vote.

If approved, the L.A. housing bond would be the largest ever put before city voters, a measure that could cost the owner of a home assessed at $300,000 up to $85 a year.

It would share the ballot with a $2.85 billion Housing and Emergency Shelter statewide measure -- one of four bonds proposed as part of the governor's $37 billion infrastructure funding scheme.

Plus, Councilmen Greig Smith and Tony Cardenas are evaluating a roughly $1 billion city bond to pay for street paving, which could also make the November election. Smith estimates that bond would cost at most $105 per $300,000 assessed value.

With a high-priced real estate market, rising rents and the loss of affordable housing, council President Eric Garcetti said the time is right for both state and local housing bonds.

``Even slowing down the market means it's just evening out,'' he said. ``People feel this housing crisis at every income level.''

Still, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and some state leaders are worried about voter fatigue or sticker-shock. Bonds are paid for by increasing property taxes.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, has urged Villaraigosa to not move forward on the city bonds, spokesman Steve Maviglio said.

``It's too much, too soon for voters to digest. Given the rejection of the Mom-and-Apple-Pie library bond in the June election, it may put the state bonds in jeopardy,'' he said.

Villaraigosa has pledged to pursue a $1 billion housing bond to supplement the city's affordable housing trust fund, however his office said Friday that the mayor agrees with Nunez's concern.

The mayor worked with Nunez and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, to get housing funds included in the state infrastructure bonds.

``Beyond the fully funded affordable housing trust fund, which is funded at $100 million, we need additional local solutions as well. However the timing of the local measure this fall, in light of surprising and unfortunate defeat of the library bond, suggests we may have to defer the Los Angeles city measure,'' mayor's spokeswoman Diana Rubio said.

But Garcetti said concerns about voter fatigue or the poor public opinion of the $600 million library measure can be overcome.

First, he said, library supporters didn't campaign for the bond so voters were largely unaware of the measure. Second, voters are more likely to trust local bonds because of the success of past measures, such as the 1998 Los Angeles library bond that helped renovate libraries across the city.

``It's more about the issue than voter fatigue. They want their money spent fairly by a government they trust,'' Garcetti said.

``This is an issue that resonates with voters and we have a lot of confidence in this. When (Assembly Speaker Nunez) learns how robust the campaign is and how deep the support among Angelenos is, he will join the team.''

So far, Garcetti said, focus groups and polling completed last year have found voters would support taxing themselves in order to provide more homeless shelter beds, construction of attractive low-income buildings and workforce housing so teachers and firefighters could afford to buy homes in the city.

Bond advocates have already formed a campaign committee -- co-chaired by former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros and G. Allan Kingston, president of nonprofit Century Housing.

They have lined up nearly $1 million in pledges to bankroll the campaign and have hired as their campaign consultant Parke Skelton, Villaraigosa's political strategist during his run for mayor.

Nevertheless, campaign consultants said too many similar bonds could turn off voters. And the Los Angeles measures, which would appear lower than the state bonds on the ballot, could likely suffer.

``If you're a moderate on bonds, you may have already voted yes on the first state bond and then see the city bond measure and you say, `Wait a minute, I've already voted for a housing bond. I'm not going to tax myself twice,''' said Steve Afriat, a political consultant who has managed several local bond measure campaigns.

The statewide housing bond already appears to be struggling. Field Poll results released June 5 showed the state housing bond measure had 39 percent support -- the lowest of the four infrastructure bonds addressing transportation, education and flood protection.

But Kingston said, Los Angeles has a history of supporting similar tax measures. In 2002, 63 percent of Los Angeles County voters supported Proposition 46, a $2.1 billion statewide housing bond that is out of money this year.

``There's a moral argument to be made here that we all see or know what's happening with the homeless. For Los Angeles to be the city with the largest homeless population and not do anything about it, it's just not right.''

Meanwhile, Smith is waiting for a final cost estimate and poll results to gauge public support for bond measure to pay for street paving. The city has a massive backlog of street repairs and Smith, along with Cardenas, proposed using bond dollars to fix 4,000 miles of streets over the next eight years instead of 80 years under the city's current funding schedule.

Initially estimated at $1.5 billion, Smith said the bond would probably be a little less than $1 billion dollars.

``There's a lot of questions about sticker shock of all the bonds on the ballot,'' Smith said.

But veteran campaign consultant Rick Taylor is still wary of putting another bond on the November ballot.

``People can only open their pocket books so much,'' he said. ``When you put on initiatives that cost people money it all comes down to timing. If it's good for Los Angeles then people will vote for it.''

kerry.cavanaugh@dailynews.com

(213) 978-0390
COPYRIGHT 2006 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 27, 2006
Words:991
Previous Article:MAYOR EXPECTS THOUSANDS MORE JOBS FOR L.A. YOUTHS.
Next Article:`GRASS' FIRE IN VALLEY HOME BLAZE LEADS TO DISCOVERY.


Related Articles
FINGERS POINT IN BOND DOOM POLITICIANS PLAY BLAME GAME ON INFRASTRUCTURE.
LEGISLATURE OKS $37 BILLION BOND PACKAGE.
SENATE VOTES TO DELAY RAIL BOND.
VOTERS FACE CAMPAIGN ONSLAUGHT FOR PROPOSITIONS.
MAYOR PUSHES HOUSING BOND CROWDED NOV. 7 BALLOT MAY INCLUDE $1 BILLION LOCAL MEASURE FOR HOMES.
LOCAL VOTERS COULD FACE MORE BOND MEASURES.
COUNCIL PUTS HOUSING BOND ON FALL BALLOT.
CITY STREET BOND TO MISS BALLOT.
DEBATE STARTS ON TERM LIMITS, ETHICS PACKAGE.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters