The Clean Water Parcel Tax

FullSizeRenderWhen I attended the Culver City Council meeting on Monday, July 11th, it was to mainly voice my opinion as a member of the Culver City Community Coalition. I was there to insist that we continue to have our City Council members retain the responsibility of hiring and firing our police and fire chiefs. I was there to insist that we continue to have two year terms for our council members instead of the three years that some were proposing. This would assure fresh voices and a diversity of opinions to be represented on the council. Almost at the end of the session on July 11th, I was surprised to find that there would also be a Clean Water Parcel Tax.

It turns out that Culver City is required to comply with measures required by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Program (NPDESP). To fund this campaign, the Culver City Council is proposing a $ 99/parcel of residential land taxation to be voted on come November 8th. According to a previous survey of residents, the Council surmised that 75% of the residents were supportive of this measure. Since I never received any survey, it makes me wonder what the sample size of the survey was and whether it was a statistically significant sample size to begin with. Even taxing all the residents, the Council was aware that it would cover 10% of the entire $50million dollar liability/fines/expenses it would incur. So where would or should the other 90% come from? At the July 25th City Council meeting, Dr. David Haake, Chair of the West LA Sierra Club and we, as members of the Sierra Club and the Executive Director of Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community (CCSC), Paul Ferrazzi, recommended that Freeport- McMoRan Oil and Gas Company (FMX) shoulder the other 90% of the tax burden, as they have been responsible for the run off into the Ballona Creek since 1920. According to the minutes of the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board meeting that was conducted at Culver City’s City Hall on 2-7-13, Ms. Cassandra Owens, Unit Chief Watershed Regulatory Officer indicated that: a) there have been two violations by FMX since 1994 regarding effluent (oil production waste) release, and b) that FMX must submit a final compliance schedule by February 7, 2017 regarding effluent quantification and speciation.

The interesting thing to me at the end of the session was that Mr. Herbertson of Public Works reminded the Council that it was not the purview of the Council to tax FMX. He felt that it was the responsibility of the LA Water Board to tax FMX, but to our knowledge, the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) has only given FMX extensions on its deadlines to meet the specifications of the permit. FMX has never been levied fines to the best of our knowledge by the RWQCB. It would only be fair if FMX could shoulder a part of the Clean Water Tax as it has been polluting the Ballona Creek for 96 years!

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