Words Aren't Cheap
Altadena residents fight once again to save local libraries
By André Coleman 09/04/2014
Facing drastic cuts and the possible closure of local libraries, supporters of the Altadena Library will host a Vote Yes on A rally at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Altadena Library, 600 Mariposa Ave.
In 1993, residents approved a $400,000 parcel tax on residential and business properties in Altadena, an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County. Last renewed in 2004, the parcel tax expires this year.
“Hours would be cut and staff would be let go, and it may only be open three days a week,” said Debrah Lemattre, spokesperson of Alliance to Save Our Altadena Libraries. “It could lead to the town losing one of its libraries.”
Measure A is endorsed by Congresswoman Judy Chu and fellow Democrats State Sen. Carol Liu and Assemblyman Chris Holden.
The tax accounts for about 30 percent of library’s funding. Currently, about 88 percent of residents use the library regularly according to the alliance. Forty-three percent of the libraries patrons are teens and children.
If Measure A does not pass, the Altadena Public Library would lose $735,000 in annual funding and the Bob Lucas Branch Library on Lincoln Avenue would be forced to close.
The Altadena Public Library was decimated in 1978 with passage of after Proposition 13, which reduced property tax revenues to local municipalities. Immediately following the passage of Proposition 13, the library was forced to cut 37 percent of its staff, reduce hours by 46 percent and cut back on books, films and audio materials.
In 1983, 61 percent of residents voted to pass a parcel tax, but the Los Angeles County Controller’s Office refused to implement it because it did not reach the new threshold established by Proposition 13 requiring a two-thirds majority to pass. In 1994, 71 percent of the residents passed a parcel tax to help save the library from closure.
“Altadena does not really have a downtown hub like most towns,” Lemattre said. “Our library is our community center. This is where kids go after school for homework and it is a base for home school kids. The library also offers lots of different classes. We have to protect the library.”
For more information, call (626) 798-0833 or visit altadenalibrary.org.