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Sewer foes battle until the last minute

City hosts final hearing on assessment district.

October 08, 2009|By Megan O’Neil

Campaigning up until the very last minute, opponents of the formation of Sewer Assessment District 09-1 lined up Monday night in City Hall to make their case at the city’s final public hearing on the matter.

The owners of 680 La Cañada Flintridge properties had until the close of the hearing to submit their ballots to support or oppose the creation of a single assessment district to pay for the installation of a $40 million low-pressure sewer system. The results will be announced today and posted online at www.lacanadaonline.com.

The district would include districts 5A, 6E and 6J. District 5A includes properties south of Berkshire Avenue; districts 6E and 6J are both west of the 2 (Glendale) Freeway and south of Foothill Boulevard.

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District 09-1 would be the fourth such assessment district to be created by the city in its effort to convert from a septic sewer system to a traditional sewer system. Gravity systems have already been installed in areas north of Foothill Boulevard. The geological composite and grade of the Flintridge area, however, has made it impossible for such a system to be used there. The city eventually settled on a low-pressure system as the best alternative.

Much of the cost of the system will fall on property owners, who will be assessed anywhere from $40,145.39 to $72,923.63, depending on the size of the lot. Property owners can opt to pay the entire sum up front, and receive a 5% to15% discount. Otherwise, the assessment will be spread out over 20 to 30 years and applied to property taxes.

Some of the objections raised at the hearing pertained to the functionality of the system itself. Fred Engler questioned whether the city had taken into consideration the electrical capabilities of each property and whether it would be sufficient to power the pressurized tanks. William Davis told council members that the low pressure system has no proven track record.

“It seems to me that one of the most important considerations in deciding whether to vote for or against this proposal is to understand what the historical performance of this system has been,” Davis said.

Elizabeth Trinast described the sewer system as a work in progress, and a risk not worth taking at this time.

“We have to look at this vote as voting on a draft, not a plan,” Trinast said. “We are voting on an estimate, not an assessment, and there is no cap on the maintenance fee because we have no contract.”

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