Shakedown at Elysian Park
- 22 Nov 2011
- Written by Jack Humphreville
PROJECT UPDATE - The Board of Commissioners of our Department of Water and Power will soon be considering two alternative plans for the Elysian Reservoir.
The plan favored by the Elysian Park Community is a $110 million, 55 million gallon Underground Reservoir covered by a new 12 acre recreation area.
However, the Floating Cover alternative endorsed by DWP management costs only $25 million.
This $85 million “pet project” differential is not an inconsiderable sum, especially given the proposed 22% and 26% increases in our water and power rates over the next three years. (Link)
Needless to say, while 12 acres of recreational area in the 575 acre Elysian Park would be a welcomed amenity, it is not the responsibility of the Ratepayers to finance this $85 million “pet project,” a “secondary objective” of the plan involving the Underground Reservoir.
Rather, this $85 million “pet project” differential is the responsibility of the City and the Department of Recreation and Parks.
If DWP were to foot the bill for this $85 million “pet project,” it would set a terrible precedent as every member of the City Council would demand equal consideration. One example would be the $105 million increment associated with the Underground Reservoir in Upper Stone Canyon. (Link)
By the time you toss in the Mayor’s wish list, DWP and Ratepayers will be on the hook for over $1 billion of “pet projects,” adding over $100 million to our water bills.
As it is, the Ratepayers are the single largest source of cash for the City’s General Fund: $250 million from the Power System’s 8% Transfer Fee and $300 million from the City’s 10% Utility Tax on our electricity bills. And this $550 million tax is projected to increase over the next five years by 41% to over $775 million.
The funding of this $85 million “pet project” is also contrary to Proposition 26 (the Supermajority Vote to Pass New Taxes and Fees Act) that was approved by the California voters in November of 2010.
The decision by the DWP to recommend the Floating Cover alternative is not sitting well with the Elysian Park Community and its Council Members. They claim that past political appointees of the Mayor promised these goodies.
But these political promises were extracted by the Elysian Park Community’s political leadership before receiving approval of DWP management and the Board of Commissioners. And that was before 78% of the voters approved the Ratepayers Advocate, before the approval of Proposition 26, and before the proposed three year 22% and 26% increases in our water and power rates.
And quite frankly, this so called promise was made before this “pet project” came out of the bowels of City Hall and saw the light of day.
While the Elysian Park Community and its Elected Elites realize that this $85 million “pet project” is no longer economically or politically feasible, that has not stopped them for asking for benefits and amenities in the range of $10 to $15 million. And you can bet there will be many persuasive arguments supporting this shakedown of DWP, including that the “ask” is less than 20% of the $85 million.
And left unsaid is the implied quid pro quo that these blatant payoffs will insure the cooperation of the Elysian Park Community’s Elected Elite with respect to the proposed water and power rate increases as well as other matters.
But the DWP is not the candy store for our Elected Elite, the Elysian Park Community, and their political cronies. So once again, the DWP and its Board of Commissioners must stand firm against this political shakedown and just say NO!
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and the Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler -- www.recycler.com. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org ) –cw
Tags: Elysian Park, Elysian Reservoir, Jack Humphreville, Department of Recreation and Parks, Upper Stone Canyon, Pet Projects, LADWP Board
Vol 9 Issue 93
Pub: Nov 22, 2011