The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Thursday postponed a vote on a plan that would impose liens on about 200 properties in Rancho Palos Verdes to pay for landslide abatement work.
The board had been slated to decide whether to form an improvement district, the first step toward issuing $10 million in revenue bonds. The bonds would be guaranteed by liens against property owners in the Abalone Cove landslide area.
However, acting on a motion by Supervisor Mike Antonovich, the board voted to hold the matter over until Tuesday. Antonovich requested the delay until the county determines whether insurance can be purchased to guarantee the bonds.
The board’s action came after a public hearing during which a number of property owners protested that the plan would impose an unfair financial burden on them. Several argued that the assessments would amount to tens of thousands of dollars for some owners of large properties.
“The homeowners will wind up paying these liens if you die or sell or attempt to borrow on your property” before the bonds are paid off, William H. Roberts told the board.
But others, including Rancho Palos Verdes Councilman Douglas Hinchliffe, said that money to pay back the bonds should become available as property values in the Abalone Cove area increase.
Under the plan, the bonds will be paid off through increased property taxes generated as properties are resold in the future.
“If the slide isn’t stopped, the value of this property is questionable,” Hinchliffe said.
The plan to issue the bonds came about because of a lawsuit brought against the county and Rancho Palos Verdes by a group of property owners in the slide area. They alleged that excessive water runoff in the area caused the landslide to develop.
As part of a settlement reached in 1987, the county agreed to issue the bonds and defer payments for 10 years. The homeowners now protesting the liens were not part of the original lawsuit.
In recent years, dewatering wells have been installed and other work completed to stabilize the slide area. City officials have said money raised through the sale of the bonds will be used for projects aimed at stopping the slide once and for all.