New tax helps fund safe, clean water and thousands of jobs
In November 2018, residents voted to pass Measure W in Los Angeles County. The new property tax is projected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars annually to capture and clean up stormwater. It will also have a beneficial impact on the Southern California construction industry.
The Safe Clean Water Program
If you’ve ever been in Southern California during a very rainy day, it can be heartbreaking to see all that fresh water quickly drain down the streets and out to the ocean. Residents saw it. Politicians saw it. Capturing it for future use became a priority.
The Safe Clean Water Program had been in the works for two years before coming on the ballot last year. The new parcel tax now mandates a 2.5 cent/square foot assessment on all buildings located in Los Angeles County. Revenue generated from Measure W will help cities across the County meet obligations under the federal Clean Water Act and associated permits that are given out by the state.
Funds will be used to pay for regional and municipal projects that improve water quality and may also increase water supply and provide community benefits such as parks or wetlands. This is especially critical as the region and the state needs to be more water resilient as we face the effects of climate change. The Safe, Clean Water Program would also add cooling green space to the urban landscapes that make up the core of L.A. County, protecting residents from heat and the health effects of contaminated stormwater runoff. Additionally, 10 percent of the revenue is earmarked for the L.A. County Flood Control District for administration.
Progress to report
Collecting revenue from Measure W began with the county’s fiscal year, which started July 1.While there is much to do to get the Safe, Clean Water Program going, there is great progress to report, including the formation of committees to handle specific projects.
Mark Pestrella, Director of The County of Los Angeles Public Works, is excited about the what now lies ahead. He notes there are projects lined up across the county, including projects within the Sun Valley Watershed; the cities of Los Angeles and Lakewood; and a big project that has great support: the Los Cerritos Channel project at Long Beach Airport.
According to estimates, the revenue from Measure M could generate as many as 6,500 more construction jobs as these many projects come to life. Funds become available in January 2020. Pestrella says this is why it’s extremely important to form watershed committees up and have them up and running early. This will allow members to prioritize the projects that take precedence.
This will impact the construction industry with a wide range of engineering projects, including smaller projects to incorporate ways for stormwater runoff to be absorbed into the ground. Larger engineering projects combine with these smaller ones to create a steady stream of work to help maintain a healthy construction industry.
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