LB Utility Undergrounding and Fire Safety Measure

Date: August 17, 2018

Is the City blowing smoke?

Will a whopping 12.9 percent sales tax increase for undergrounding a relatively small number of utility poles (compared to the total number of poles in existence) in our city really keep us safer from fires?

Is the City using fear of fire tactics to promote this new tax? Are they capitalizing on the increase of wildfire danger in our region and State to gain support for this tax?

Are they accurately stating the facts regarding the number of fires whose origin have been traced specifically to utility poles? Were these fires due to arson, unmaintained vegetation and trees, cars, and other reasons besides lack of utility pole maintenance?

Do you want to subsidize your neighbors undergrounding and ocean views when you have paid to underground your neighborhood already or for those not pole-less yet hope to have enough money to form an assessment district to underground your neighborhood one day?

Is it worth 25 plus years of city debt potentially costing residents and taxpayers billions?

Has the City been transparent with residents that this tax will be used to float a multi-hundred million dollar revenue bond which is our cities greatest debt ever?

Measure LL passed two years ago. The new tax was supposed to be used for public safety. Who not use this designated tax and other annual city surplus funds to under-ground our share of the cost to underground our major transportation corridors?

These are just a few of the questions being raised by residents in response to the new tax increase being proposed by the City.

Special Tax

On July 17, 2018, the Laguna Beach City Council approved a Special Tax Ballot Measure titled “Laguna Beach Utility Undergrounding and Fire Safety Measure” to be placed on the November 6, 2018 ballot. This measure requires a two-thirds voter approval to pass.

The measure asks qualified voters to approve a special tax to increase City transactions (sales) and use tax rate by one percent (1%).

Otherwise, in addition to assuming debt of a fifth of a billion dollars over the next 25 years, we will pay more daily for everything we buy like cars, appliances, restaurants, home remodeling, internet shopping and more just because we are Laguna residents. This tax will severely impact residents, businesses and visitors.

Is this second tax increase in two years for public safety necessary?

We have a system: Residents support utility undergrounding and have invested in un-dergrounding for years through the City’s Assessment District process. The process allows homeowners to underground their public or private neighborhoods at a shared cost. This is fair and equitable. It does not burden others and requires no additional taxpayer subsidies. No residents have asked for the City to change the process. No individual residential neighborhoods should expect to be subsidized. We expect to “pay as we go.”

We have money: Two years ago we approved Measure LL which generates $4+ ,ioons per year. The funds were approved for public safety use. In addition, annually we have millions in budget surpluses that can immediately be directed to undergrounding. State grants and SCE Rule 20 funds are available. We really can “pay as we go.”

We are safe: We increased fire staff, updated equipment, maintain open spaces, im-plemented drones, trim trees and promote fire safety citywide. We have faith in our fire department and surrounding fire agencies too protect us. We can “pay as we go” for their services.

We have agency partners: SCE plans are underway to underground a portion of Cal-trans’ LCR already. They own it, they should pay. We can support undergrounding the remaining LCR poles for safety and aesthetic improvements and pay our share.

What happened to our historical practice of Paying As We Go and Living Within Our Means?

Please review the following documents and decide for yourself before voting in November.

City Resolution #18.041. Click here
2018 City Tax Measure Argument Click here
2018 City Attorney Tax Measure Analysis. Click here
2018 City Tax Measure Rebuttal Click here
2018 City Elections Ballot Entry Click here

S.T.O.P. (Laguna group opposition to tax measure website) Click here
2018 S.T.O.P. Tax Measure Argument Click here
2018 S.T.O.P. Tax Measure Rebuttal Click here
S.T.O.P. Measure P Update here
Letter To The Editor – LB Indy – City’s Money Tree Is Us! Click here

Community Opinions:
Letter To The Editor – LB Indy – Sales Tax Increase Isn’t Needed for Public Safety. Click here
Letter To The Editor – LB Indy – Unintended Consequences from Higher Taxes. Click here

Share your thoughts with us. Click here

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