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HUNTINGTON BEACH : Assessment District to Go Before Voters

The city has taken another step toward soliciting advice from voters on whether residents should pay $2.7 million a year to fund beach and park improvements.

The City Council on Monday tentatively approved an advisory measure for the March ballot asking voters whether a citywide assessment district should be created.

People who live in single-family homes, condominiums or townhouses would be assessed $36 annually, as would commercial and industrial buildings. Apartment dwellers would pay $24 a year and mobile home owners $12.

The proposed Park and Beach Improvement District would raise about $2.7 million a year, Community Services Director Ron Hagan said. Typical funding sources for park and beach projects, including development fees and state and federal grant money, are no longer available, he said.

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The council is expected to take final action Dec. 4 to place the measure--and one that would make the city attorney and treasurer posts appointed rather than elected positions--on the March 26 ballot.

The money would be used to:

* Acquire, develop and improve sites for youth sports, such as soccer, football, softball and baseball.

* Improve city beaches by adding new restrooms and showers, pedestrian and bicycle trails, lighting, landscaping and parking lots.

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* Develop an aquatics complex.

* Renovate parks with tot lots and picnic shelters.

* Acquire or lease a site for a new senior citizens center.

“Basically it’s to help the youth in our community to raise funds to build these much-needed park improvements,” said Tom Harman, who spearheaded the move to create the assessment district. “And the cost is really no more than renting a video movie” once a month.

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Councilmen Peter Green and Dave Garofalo opposed placing the advisory vote on the March ballot, saying the primary election turnout would likely be too low to gauge public opinion.

Some council members also said that they will impose the assessment district only if there is a two-thirds passage of the advisory vote.


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