Los Angeles voters are being asked to decide a $376-million earthquake safety bond issue that proponents say would save lives --and ultimately millions of dollars for taxpayers--when the "Big One" hits.
Bond Proposition G on next Tuesday's ballot would allow the city to raise money to reinforce, repair and replace city-owned buildings, roads and bridges in need of earthquake safety improvements.
"There's no doubt in my mind that Los Angeles will experience a major earthquake in the near future," said City Councilman Richard Alatorre, who wrote the measure after the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake in Northern California last Oct. 17. "If we learned anything from (that) earthquake, it is the need for prevention."
Alatorre said public structures should be brought up to the same safety standards required of private buildings.
Like all tax matters, the measure would need approval by two-thirds of the voters for passage. If approved, it would add about $28.50 to the average property tax bill each year for the next 20 years. There was no ballot argument filed against the measure.
Voters are also being asked to decide on two noncontroversial City Charter amendments that would make technical adjustments to police and fire pensions.
Charter Amendment I would speed cost-of-living adjustments to pensions of surviving dependents of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty.
Through a quirk in laws governing two of the three city pensions serving police and firefighters, some surviving dependents have to wait as long as five years for a cost-of-living adjustment. Charter Amendment I would eliminate the differences between the pension rules and allow all surviving dependents to have a cost-of-living adjustment to their pension on the first July following the beginning of pension payments.
The measure will only affect officers hired before 1980. George Aliano, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said that, on average, two officers a year die in the line of duty.
Charter Amendment J would adjust police and fire pension programs to make them conform with new federal rules. The changes would not raise costs to the city, but if they are not enacted, employees could be taxed on part of their pension benefits even while they are still working. Similar changes have already been made to other public pension programs.