During its Aug. 25 virtual meeting, the Signal Hill City Council approved a resolution to enter an agreement and accept an estimated $290,000 from Los Angeles County as the city’s share of Measure W tax revenue.
Passed by voters in November 2018, Measure W funds the county’s Safe Clean Water (SCW) Program through a 2.5-cent per square-foot parcel tax assessed on property owners based on how much of their property is impermeable, such as if it has a concrete patio.
Permeable land allows water to fill underground water tables; impermeable land leads to stormwater runoff, which carries chemicals and debris into waterways and, ultimately, the ocean.
The goal of the SCW Program is to capture billions of gallons of rainwater lost to storm-drains and protect coastal waters and beaches from stormwater trash and contaminants, Public Works Director Kelly Tunnicliff said.
“The hope is that the measure will help prepare the region for the effects of a changing climate by returning water to the groundwater table,” she said.
Measure W is expected to generate $285 million annually, 40% of which goes back to the county’s municipalities and the remaining 60% going toward countywide regional projects, Tunnicliff said.
The city’s annual share is about $290,000, which it will collect every year for 30 years depending on how much tax revenue the county collects, Tunnicliff said.
“In order to receive our share of collected funds, the City of Signal Hill must enter into the Los Angeles County Transfer Agreement and submit an annual plan within 45 days after execution of the agreement,” she said, adding that the agreement has to be renewed every four years.
The City can only use the funds for activities related to protecting and improving water quality, but it can save funds for up to five years to pay for larger projects, Tunnicliff said.
The City can also use up to 30% of the funds to maintain existing projects and programs.
The biggest chunk-nearly $90,000- of this year’s Measure W funds will go toward developing a proposed new View Park at the corner of E. Burnett Street and Cherry Avenue, according to the staff report.
The City also plans to allocate $100,000 of the next fiscal year’s funds to complete View Park, Tunnicliff said.
“It’s an estimate for how we intend to use the funds, but it’s not required to be used exactly in that manner,” Tunnicliff said.
According to the staff report, another $75,000 of this year’s funds is earmarked for infrastructure projects and $33,000 for operating and maintaining the Los Cerritos Channel Sub-basin 4 Stormwater Capture Facility beneath the Long Beach Airport, a joint project between Signal Hill and Long Beach.
The Signal Hill Public Library and Dog Park will also benefit with $2,500 each for “low-impact” development, according to the report.
City Attorney Dave Aleshire warned the council that using the funds has “entangling aspects” that tie the City to the County.
“For example, if you use the money to buy property, you would be required to record a covenant so that you could not sell the property in the future without getting their approval,” he said. “When you use the money, you should realize you are committed to not only developing the project but to keep it in operation for substantial periods of time.”
Aleshire said the agreement stipulations are not unreasonable, but the council should be cognizant of them.
“Just be aware that when you take the funding, you have another entity that is going to have a say in the long-term use of the project,” he said.
The next Signal Hill City Council meeting will take place Tuesday, Sept. 8 at 7pm. To access and participate in the virtual meeting, visit the council’s webpage at www.cityofsignalhill.org/79/City-Council