After public outcry erupted over a proposed county clean water fee, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works will allow protest emails, in addition to the mail and drop-off letters that it had previously accepted.
However, people can only email scanned or photographed protest letters with a handwritten signature.
The proposed Clean Water, Clean Beaches measure would increase L.A. County residents’ property tax bills by about $54 for the typical homeowner and possibly thousands of dollars for some commercial property owners.
Customers received an informative pamphlet at the beginning of December 2012; however, many complained that it looked like junk mail. The original protest deadline of Jan. 15 was subsequently extended to March 12.
As of Jan. 11, DPW has received 95,000 written protests—or approximately 4.3 percent of parcel owners who are eligible to vote, according to DPW representative Kerjon Lee. Unless more than 10 percent of property owners object in writing to the tax before the deadline, a ballot will be mailed to owners.
If a majority of ballots returned are in favor of the measure, the fee would be charged.
“We continued to hear complaints from residents, businesses, school districts, churches and non-profits that this process has not been open and transparent,” L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, who represents the South Bay, said after the fee was extended. “Even as the board was hearing testimonies at the public hearing, my office was receiving emails and phone calls from residents asking where they could get a protest form and how they could protest the measure.”
In order to be counted, protests must be received by March 12 and include the parcel’s address, assessor’s number, owner name and signature.
The parcel tax would raise about $275 million for the county that would be used to control the discharge of pollutants into the ocean. In fiscal year 2010-2011, the county spent an estimated $340 million to comply with water quality regulations.
Email protests can be sent to WQFI.Info@dpw.lacounty.gov or they can still be sent by mail to the Executive Officer of the Board of Supervisors, P.O. Box 866006, Los Angeles, CA 90086. They can also be hand-delivered to the third floor of the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 West Temple Street, Room 383.