In addition to Proposition 2, a $176-million general obligation bond for improving police facilities, which The Times has already endorsed, there are three other bond issues on the April 11 ballot in the City of Los Angeles. All require a two-thirds vote for approval; we recommend a Yes vote on each:
Proposition 1--Libraries: Ever since fire damaged Los Angeles’ Central Library two years ago, a great deal of public attention has been focused on saving that stately old building and its book collection. But branch libraries need help, too, and some neighborhoods have no libraries at all.
Proposition 1 would allow the city to issue $53.4 million worth of general indebtedness bonds to pay for three new branch libraries in the San Fernando Valley. The money also would be used to bring 15 libraries built before 1933, most of them in older neighborhoods around the Central City and in Venice, up to current earthquake-safety standards and to expand and modernize branches.
Los Angeles voters came within a few hundred Yes votes of passing a similar measure last November. But Proposition L failed because two-thirds approval was necessary for a property tax increase to take effect, and it got only 62% voter support. City budget analysts estimate that the annual tax bill a home in Los Angeles will go up less than $5 if Proposition 1 is approved. Given the convenience and use everyone derives from our branch libraries, we urge a Yes vote on Proposition 1.
Proposition 3--Housing: It would authorize the city to issue $100 million in general obligation bonds to pay for the costs of bringing low-income rental housing in the city up to earthquake safety standards.
City engineers have counted almost 1,600 old buildings within the city limits that are made of unreinforced masonry or brick. Many of these structures could be destroyed in a major earthquake, causing terrible injuries and loss of life, so city law requires that they either be made safe or torn down. Many of these old buildings also constitute a major part of the city’s limited supply of low-cost housing. City officials estimate that some 50,000 rental units would be lost if all the old apartment buildings that do not meet earthquake standards were to be torn down.
In order to avoid the loss of so much low-cost housing, the money raised if Proposition 3 passes would be used to help landlords pay for upgrading old buildings so that they can meet earthquake standards while also keeping the cost of living in them affordable. In addition, $10 million of the money raised under Proposition 3 would go to help nonprofit agencies in the city construct new shelters for the homeless. At a time of serious shortages in low-priced housing throughout Southern California, and when homelessness is a major problem for Los Angeles, Proposition 3 deserves a Yes vote.
Proposition 4--Fire Safety: It would authorize the city to issue $60 million in general obligation bonds to finance safety improvements in old city-owned high-rises, including City Hall.
Since 1974, fire sprinklers have been required in all high-rise buildings constructed in Los Angeles. But in the aftermath of last year’s fire in the First Interstate Bank building downtown, new ordinances were adopted requiring the installation of life-saving devices in all tall buildings built before 1974. The new laws affect not just City Hall, but L.A. Police Department headquarters and the municipal buildings in Van Nuys and San Pedro.
The Proposition 4 money would finance the installation of sprinklers, fire-alarm systems and asbestos removal, often necessary when older buildings are refitted, in six city-owned structures. Some funds would be used to make older buildings more accessible to the handicapped.
Proposition 4 merits wide support because it will make older city buildings safer, not just for the people who work there but for the thousands of citizens who visit them every day.