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Measure to Build New Parks Added to November Ballot

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The proposed parcel tax would generate nearly $100 million annually for much-needed park projects

Los Angeles’s woeful lack of park space is well-documented. A recent parks-needs assessment found that more than half of LA County residents do not live within walking distance of a park. Moreover, the parks that currently exist are in need of serious renovation. The assessment found that infrastructure in more than three-quarters of county parks is in fair or poor condition.

To create more park space, and to restore existing parks, the county will need to invest a considerable sum of money—the assessment estimates the total cost of implementing prioritized park projects and conducting necessary maintenance to be $21.5 billion. Unfortunately, a voter-approved tax funding park projects expired last year, and funds from another tax—passed in 1996—will dry up in 2019.

To secure continued funding for park improvements, the County Supervisors voted Tuesday to put a measure on the November ballot asking voters to approve a one-and-a-half cent per square-foot parcel tax that would raise about $94.5 million annually, according to the LA Times.

"We have heard loud and clear that the residents of LA County value their parks and are willing to invest in creating and maintaining these spaces," Supervisor Hilda Solis said in a press release. Recent polling numbers presented to the supervisors show that 69 percent of LA residents would likely support the measure, with that number growing to 75 percent after respondents were given more information about the tax. Two-thirds of voters must approve the measure for it to pass.

Interestingly, the poll showed that voters were just as likely to support the tax if it doubled to three cents per square-foot. In spite of that, the supervisors elected to go with the lower tax—one that will take more than two decades to raise necessary funds for priority park projects.

The proposed tax is just the latest addition to an absurdly crowded November ballot. Other highlights: a sales tax bump for future transit projects, a bond measure to address the city’s homelessness crisis, and an initiative that would attach affordable housing requirements to most major development projects. The supervisors are also considering several measures to fund countywide homeless assistance projects. They will decide which to add to November ballots next week.