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Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure to be Decided

Oct 27, 2019

Heal the Bay and other environmentalists laud the measure designed to fund stormwater runoff control to protect our Malibu and other California coastlines. Some homeowners in Los Angeles county are calling the measure just another property tax with no accountability.

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Do you recall ever having received one of the “Clean Water, Clean Beaches” notices in the mail? If so, you may recall it appeared to look more like a newsletter—rather than a notice for you to file a protest to a new fee on your property tax bill. The LA County Department of Public Works sent these notices to all 2.3 million property owners in LA County to inform them about their proposed Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure to provide dedicated funding through a NEW FEE (or tax) to reduce pollution in storm water runoff that affects beaches, waterways, and groundwater.

When I looked up the tax for my property on Chesebro Rd. in Agoura Hills I learned that I would be paying $83 per year.  This would be well worth insuring that the Malibu coast I frequent will stay clean.

Property owners were originally given until January 15, 2013 to submit their protest form or attend the Public Hearing to verbally express their protest. However, due to the obscurity of the notice, it was voted to continue the public hearing for 60 days, which means the deadline to submit a protest has been extended to March 12, 2013.

This proposed measure would affect all property owners—including commercial, industrial, residential, and government—who will pay a fee at different rates based on the size of their parcel(s). There are about 2.3 million properties affected.

You may view the proposed fee for your parcel here: http://dpw.lacounty.gov/bsd/bpv/wqfm.aspx

Opponants of the bill say that there is no accountability provision to ensure that projects performed under this measure are meeting intended clean water goals. The proposed “fee” is indefinite with no “sunset” clause that would stop it once goals are met or after a certain period of time. Specific projects that the fee will cover have yet to be identified.

Heal the Bay and other environment group are supporting the measure, lauding it as important and necessary to save our beaches in light of State budget cuts.

A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 9:30 a.m. in the Hearing Room of the Board of Supervisors at the Hall of Administration – 500 W. Temple Street, Los Angeles, 90012 (corner of Temple Street & Grand Avenue) – (213) 974-1311.

If the Board has not received protests against the fee by a majority of property owners at the end of the Public Hearing on March 12, the Board may choose to proceed to the second step in the Proposition 218 process—an election to approve the proposed Clean Water Fee.

Competing with Cash Buyers

The real estate market is sizzling.  Woe the customer who needs financing to buy a home, who has to compete with cash buyers.  Here are some suggestions for buyers and sellers about how to multiple offers stack-up.

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The real estate market is sizzling.  Woe the customer who needs financing to buy a home, who has to compete with cash buyers.

If sellers had a heart and wanted to give equal opportunity to someone who is actually going to live in the property, versus a cash investor, things would not look so bleak for buyers who need financing. Not all cash buyers are investors, yet they are often able to negotiate a price discount. There is a downside to an increase in tenant occupied homes in a given neighborhood. Government owned properties are, at least initially, offered exclusively to buyer’s who intend to live in the home.  Yet sellers whose properties are non-conforming may not have a choice.  Non-permitted additions and upgrades may render their properties unfriendly so far as lenders are concerned.

So what can a buyer do?   They can write “clean” offers.

Forget contingencies to sell another home – that is so 2011 – buyer need to sell their current home first and move twice if necessary.
Shorten inspection times – the Calif. Assoc. of Realtors boilerplate contract allows 17 days.  A qualified inspector can be scheduled within a day or two.  Especially if the home appears to be well maintained, a seller may think a 17 day period is an unreasonable amount of time for their property to be tied up under contract.  10 days are usually more than enough time for inspections.
Keep the options to a minimum.  If the seller is offering to include their refrigerator, fine.  A buyer shouldn’t ask for personal items unless there was a prior discussion about the inclusion of such items.  Don’t ask for the seller’s family heirlooms.
]Include a “pre-approval” (not a pre-qualification) from the actual underwriter.  When comparing offers, the seller will consider a pre-qual from a mortgage broker just a cursory notion that a buyer has a chance of getting a loan.  An actual approval from an underwriter is stronger.
By all means, provide a verification of funds needed for the down-payment plus closing costs.

That’s for starters.  It helps for a buyer to work with an agent who has years of experience who can best represent their strengths.  I am always amazed when I see offers without a cover letter written by the buyer’s agent.  An agent who has previously sold in the neighborhood where the property is located can project confidence about the price the buyer is offering in relation to the comparable sales.  Happy hunting!

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