Council Member Mitch Englander has taken his quest for a $3 billion bond measure on the road.
After being widely rebuffed in his first attempt to add a parcel tax to cover the debt service related to his street repair bond, he and Council Member Joe Buscaino are crisscrossing the city seeking input from residents, particularly neighborhood council members.
Or is he simply going through the motions?
You see, he has already asked the City Attorney to draft the language for the proposal. On the surface, that would seem to be a routine procedure, except for one thing: if the feedback he received from the speakers at last night’s public hearing on the bond at Van Nuys City Hall is any indication (and I believe it is based on my contacts in the NC system), then there is a major structural difference between what he wants versus the public’s wishes.
Everyone who spoke at the hearing generally agreed with the need for raising revenue. Some, myself included, insisted that as much of the funding should come from savings, such as reducing the cost of compensation and benefits, before resorting to an alternative means of financing. But even then, it would be impossible to cover the full cost from savings alone.
However, there were overwhelming objections to sticking property owners with the entire cost. The two council members were reminded that approximately half the city’s residents are renters – and they drive cars, too! Furthermore, landlords cannot arbitrarily pass the additional tax on to tenants as the two council members naively suggested.
So, why go to the City Attorney when the most critical component of the measure is being hotly contested?
Mr. Englander closed the hearing with a patronizing remark. He thanked those who, in his opinion, asked good questions. In another words, those who disagreed do not count.
We are already decades behind on street maintenance. What’s another several months? Let’s take the time to be sure all avenues of offsetting cost savings are realized and that the remaining cost is shared in an equitable manner.