If approved, Measure W, a hard-surface parcel tax on the Nov. 6 ballot, would raise $300 million a year to fund projects aimed at collecting, cleaning and storing storm water runoff that would otherwise flow into the ocean.

The LA County Board of Supervisors on July 17 approved the Safe, Clean Water Program by a vote of 4-1, with only Supervisor Kathryn Barger dissenting. 

Real estate and building trade associations expressed caution and in some cases mild opposition to the measure at the July board meeting.

“My members will not support a tax without a dusk clause. You need to get this right the first time,” Laura Olhasso of the Pasadena–Foothills Association of Realtors told the supervisors.

Barger’s district includes Pasadena and Altadena.

If voters approve Measure W, the parcel tax would generate funds through a 2.5-cent per square foot tax on all impermeable surfaces — roofs, sidewalks, concrete patios, driveways and other hard tops — on private property. Schools and seniors would be exempt from the tax.

To determine how much a particular homeowner would pay, visit http://safecleanwaterla.org/.

“We have to do something about storm water,” said Supervisor Shelia Kuehl, who co-authored Measure W along with Supervisor Hilda Solis. “Two-thirds of our water supply is imported and we have to find ways to increase our water supply.

“We are very aware that 100 billion gallons of water a year float out to the ocean,” Kuehl continued. “We’re already cleaning some of it but not all of it, about a billion gallons. With this measure we could capture twice that amount, clean it and store it.”

“Our beach cities are bearing the brunt of our outdated water infrastructure. We have to get serious about capturing and cleaning rainfall to not only preserve the health of our beaches, but also replenish our water supply,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn.  “I think this is important, and it will be up to the voters to decide if it is important to them as well.”