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The Proposed LA County Water Quality “Fee” Another Drag On Any Economic Recovery

Peter Herzog
Assistant Director of Legislative Affairs, NAIOP SoCal Commercial Real Estate Development Association

Los Angeles County is proposing a “Flood Control District Water Quality Improvement Program”.  The focus of the program is to charge a “fee” on every piece of property within the County. This “Water Quality Fee”, which many believe is actually a tax, would appear on your annual property tax bill.

On November 30, the County sent out notices about the proposed tax with a Protest Form to all property owners.  Property owners only have until January 15 to file a protest opposing the tax.  All property owners are encouraged to mail the Protest Form to the County to stop this new tax for many reasons.  A few examples are as follows:

1.  LA County is already one of the most expensive places to do business, and to increase that burden will only make it more difficult to create jobs.  It is already estimated that it will take to between 2018-2020 for the level of employment to return to where it was before the Great Recession.  How many more years do we want to add on to the recovery?

2.  Additionally, this tax will hit every single residential piece of property.  Thus, the tax will take more money out of the hands of consumers at a time when people are struggling to get by, and an increase in consumer spending is vital if we are to achieve any economic recovery.

3.  There are already major efforts being done by the business community to improve water quality.  Businesses have spent, and will continue to spend, countless millions of dollars creating systems to retain water runoff on site.  And now property owners are going to be asked to pay a tax for something they are already preventing?

4.  The reality is there is a huge regulatory system already in place to address water quality. We have the Federal Clean Water Act, the State Clean Water Act, we have Regional Water Quality Control Boards that create regulations governing water runoff, the County itself has ordinances and rules imposing development standards to address clean water issues.  So, the issues surrounding clean water are, in fact, already being addressed through multiple layers of government action.  Do we need more?

5. On top of all this, there is absolutely no indication of how the $270 million a year that the tax will take out of the economy will be spent.  Not one potential project is referenced.  It is specifically stated the tax must be passed first, and then they will figure out behind some closed doors how to spend the money.  Just trust us.  Really?

Clearly, this is a tax that must be stopped now.  Please mail in your Protest Form before January 15.

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