The Prop O Citizens Oversight Committee met Wednesday afternoon at City Hall East to discuss and possibly take action on both the Verdugo Hills Stormwater Project (VHSP) concept and the LA River Natural Park Project (LARNPP) concept.If the Verdugo Hills Stormwater Project can be approved and funded, then the VHGC would be saved from being turned into 229 homes, and water would be reclaimed, cleaned, and recharged in an aquifer that would lie beneath the golf course.
The “If” in this case appears to be a big one.
The source of funds for both the VHSP and the LARNPP lies in the return of unused money from other already approved projects. Some projects may be coming in under budget or may be canceled altogether, thus freeing funds to be used for a few new projects. This is where the problem lies and was the source of some frustration at today’s meeting. The chairman of the Prop O Committee, Mark Gold (former head of Heal the Bay), tried several times to get an estimate from the project managers as to the amount of funds that may be returned and to when they might be returned. The project managers made it clear that they are not willing to commit to any set figure of funds being returned (if any funds are returned) until their projects are complete. They contend that there are too many variables and that unforeseen costs could arise. Mark Gold asked, “So when will we have a dollar amount on the Prop O surplus funds from your projects…when the ribbons are cut on opening day?” The project managers nodded their heads. From what I understand, it could be 2015 before some of the projects are completed.
Councilman Krekorian and Councilman Alarcon both attended the meeting and both spoke very passionately in favor of the two projects. And that’s the kicker in all this….There is support for these projects coming from all over the state, from elected officials, from many neighborhood councils, community groups, and residents. It seems like everyone wants to see this move ahead. There just isn’t any Prop O money yet, if ever, to fund the purchase of this property much less convert the sites into water reclamation sites.
A telling moment in today’s meeting was when Mark Gold asked Councilman Alarcon if he had any friends in Sacramento that might help us out.
Another part of today’s meeting that was disappointing not to mention irritating; The Prop O committee did not have a quorum , so they could not even vote to support the projects. A room full of people who came down to City Hall for a 2pm meeting, and a decision can’t be made on anything due to no quorum being met.