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Prop. F for Better Services

Supporting Proposition F on the Los Angeles city ballot next month ought to be no problem. It would allow the city to issue $532.6 million in bonds to build 19 neighborhood Fire Department/paramedic stations, plus an emergency helicopter and air operations facility at Van Nuys Airport. The bonds would also pay to build, repair, expand, renovate or replace city animal shelters.

The bonds’ annual cost to the owner of a typical $186,000 home works out to about $33.60, not bad for greatly improved emergency medical and animal shelter facilities.

There is overwhelming need for these improvements, replacements and upgrades for structures that do not meet current building, safety and health code standards. The city has only six animal shelters. Lack of space is part of the reason why more than seven out of every 10 of the 70,000 animals brought in each year must be destroyed, while only a few can be neutered and kept for adoption.

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Meanwhile, the city’s fire stations are so old and cramped that they cannot accommodate larger, more modern emergency equipment. The 30-year-old helicopter operations center at Van Nuys Airport was built to handle five helicopters and 19 employees; it now has to handle 26 choppers and 50 employees.

Los Angeles’ problem in seeking the two-thirds majority vote required to pass Proposition F is the same one it has faced in the past. The city has a dismal record in delivering bond-funded projects on time and under budget. Two police stations promised in a 1989 bond request were never built. Small wonder that voters need assurances before committing bond dollars again.

To protect against such embarrassments this time around, two oversight committees would be appointed by the mayor and the City Council. One would serve as a management group to keep the Proposition F projects on track. The other would be a citizens oversight panel composed of experts in the fields of construction, design and management. Both would monitor Proposition F progress and report any problems and concerns directly to the public and to the mayor and the City Council.

Proposition F deserves your vote on Nov. 7.


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