Modernizing Storm Water Management

The Oxford Basin in Marina Del Rey is an example of what projects could come out of Measure W, a parcel tax initiative that will be on the November ballot. This year’s storm season was the beginning focus of a briefing held by the Los Angeles County Public Works (LADPW) on Thursday, October 4, in Marina Del Rey, California.

Jolene Guererro, of LADPW, stood in front of the Oxford Basin as she spoke of the lands history. “Before it was just a lake basically. It was developed in 1959 to capture storm water, the runoff that comes from the streets, to prevent the houseless from being flooded,” said Guererro. The body of water held in the space prior to the renovation allegedly had quality issues, along with sediment that collected over the years. 

The 2015 finished project not only brought along a revitalized body of water, but also other enhancements to the native ecosystem and local community. “So for this project, they cleaned up the sediment, they added native plants around the edges, native plants that could help capture some of the pollutants that flow in our rain water,” said Guererro. He went on to add, “A really important thing they did with this project though is not just worry about the water quality, but how can they improve the community, and that’s why walking trails were added.”

Projects such as the Oxford Basin could continue to be built in various cities in Los Angeles if Measure W is voted through the ballot. The measure would in part focus on increasing the County’s local water supply. “Roughly two thirds of our water that we use here in LA County comes from outside sources,” said Vizcarra. The amount of imported water can then be cut back if a drought strikes the region.

Measure W would create a system of sustainability through a parcel tax. “Measure W is a storm water funding measure that’s going to be on the ballot on November 6th. It’s a two and a half cent per square foot of impermeable area parcel tax for private property in LA County,” said Edel Vizcarra, of LADPW. The measure is predicted to generate approximately 300 million dollars a year that would go towards building other systems similar to the Oxford Basin, according to Vizcarra. Fifty percent of that money would go towards building large watershed-based projects, purposed to capture and clean storm water, across cities within Los Angeles County south of Avenue S. Forty percent of the program funds would go directly back to the cities in the form of local return. 

“For every dollar that’s generated on a parcel in a disadvantaged community, they get a dollar and ten cents,” according to Vizcarra. The remaining ten percent of the revenue would go towards development of programs involving programming and curriculums in schools, workforce educational job training, and other programs focused on educating the public. 

Measure W will be on the ballot for the California midterm election on November 6.