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Money Sought for Zoo, Libraries, Park, Sidewalks

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The city of Los Angeles’ propositions on Tuesday’s ballot run from A to Z--that is, from aquarium to zoo.

And those are the two measures, Propositions EE and CC respectively, expected to pass. The others, including a $770-million special sidewalk tax and a charter amendment, HH, are causing great consternation in and around City Hall and could be headed for some trouble on election day, city officials say.

And those are the measures that were approved for the ballot. Other proposals, including an enormous police and fire package and a telecommunications plan, were tabled for more research and analysis.

The library bond, Proposition DD, is widely held to have been the most thoroughly analyzed. For about two years, library officials have drummed up support for the $178.3-million bond, which would pay for building four branches and remodeling or renovating 28. Total cost to the average homeowner: $7.06 a year.

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The zoo bond, Proposition CC, would cost property owners about $1.89 a year and is intended for specific projects, including new exhibits for primates, sea lions and reptiles and a South American rain forest.

Council President John Ferraro, whose district includes the zoo, brought the issue to his colleagues, saying that for too long the facility has been treated as inferior to San Diego’s. Ferraro says he hopes that one day the Los Angeles Zoo advertises in that southern city; the San Diego Zoo has billboards in Los Angeles to lure visitors south.

Another councilman, Mark Ridley-Thomas, was criticized for bringing his colleagues a last-minute proposal for an Exposition Park improvement bond.

Proposition EE, which would cost individual taxpayers $1.85 a year, calls for a $46.5-million bond to renovate the park’s rose garden and the Olympic Swim Stadium and to improve the Environmental Science Learning Center with an aquarium and other educational displays and exhibits.

Proposition JJ, the most costly of the measures, seeks a special tax totaling about $21 annually per property owner to repair city sidewalks. That measure has lukewarm support, however, even among some council members.

But backers say it is needed to help meet the federal disability law and to repair crumbling sidewalks in older neighborhoods. Mayor Richard Riordan has taken no position on the proposal, but aides have said he does not support it.

Councilman Joel Wachs, along with Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. President Joel Fox, wrote a rebuttal to the argument in favor of the sidewalks bond in the voter information pamphlet. “Some of our sidewalks need to be repaired, but they don’t need to be paved with gold,” they wrote.

Also on the city ballot are four charter amendments, including HH, which has come under attack in City Hall because it would grant wider authority to the council and the mayor over quasi-independent agencies such as the Water and Power, Airports and Harbor departments.

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