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Piece of Mind: Small investments with big dividends

January 22, 2014|By Carol Cormaci, carol.cormaci@latimes.com

So I see from the story filed this week by contributing writer Sara Cardine that supporters of La Cañada’s highly performing public school system are showing up at a local real estate office at night to dial for dollars. Their hope is they will persuade property owners within the school district to approve an extension of the existing parcel tax. The proposed tax is $450, up $300 from the current rate, so I guess one way we could look at it is that they’re seeking what amounts to an additional $25 a month from each household to help keep the LCUSD in good shape.

Many of us vote with our wallets in mind and flinch when asked for more, so the volunteers at the phone bank will have to be convincing. After sitting at the City Council meeting Tuesday night to hear what was being said about zoning to allow for affordable housing — a topic that has raised the ire of some residents — I have another thought to add to the school district’s pitch for money. I’m stealing it from the local resident seated next to me at that meeting. We’re longtime acquaintances, so we couldn’t help ourselves — we did some chatting as thoughts sprang to mind.

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While city officials were making the case that updating the housing element is simply a matter of meeting a state mandate and that once it’s done, all will be well because (I’m paraphrasing here) no developers in their right minds would want to buy up high-priced La Cañada real estate in order to build affordable housing projects or a homeless shelter, people seated in front of us were shaking their heads in disbelief. They clearly were not buying what the city officials were peddling. About then, my friend leaned over and whispered to me, ”That’s why people need to support the parcel tax.” Of course! If the parcel tax passes, not only do the schools win, our property values remain enviable and higher taxes might make it even that much less enticing for a developer to entertain the idea of creating the kind of units that are so troubling to some of our residents. That latter scenario alone might keep those citizens voting in favor of parcel taxes for as long as they call La Cañada home. Do you think they’ll buy that?

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