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Los Angeles County, CA November 4, 2003 Election
Smart Voter

Position on our infrastructure needs:

By John C. McTaggart

Candidate for Councilmember; City of Rancho Palos Verdes

This information is provided by the candidate
An historical perspective

In 1973, Rancho Palos Verdes was incorporated under the impression from Los Angeles County, that the eight-tenths mile of Palos Verdes Drive South in the Portuguese Bend landslide area would cost $45,000 per year to maintain. The first year under contract with the county to maintain the road cost three times that number. It got worse and eventually exceeded $200,000 per year. The city obtained a grant through legislation for $2,000,000 to re-grade the landslide area and slow down its movement in 1985. The project was somewhat successful and resulted in reduced costs for a number of years.

For the other roads, a city-wide pavement management study indicated $23,000,000 in needs. The city planned to maintain and upgrade the roads in a cyclical basis and did the job for much less money. This was done with a combination of Gas Tax Funds and a Utility User's Tax. This planning effort maintained the roads in RPV in excellent condition overall.

Storm Sewers:

As Paul Bussey was leaving the city as manager in 1998, a selection process was followed for the replacement. The council was aware that we needed infrastructure expertise on the part of the new manager. We interviewed five individuals including the then city engineer, Les Evans. Evans got the job because he not only knew the city, but had all of the credentials that the council sought. He instituted a study of the storm sewers because of some isolated problems that needed attention and the frequency of finding these problems seemed to indicate the need for the study. It has turned out that the number is vague, but ranges between $30 million to $50 million. All of the drains are not of the same age or type of material and therefore the number no matter how large may be overstated. Technology has changed and the newer methods of repair are not only cheaper, but faster and require less digging up of streets.

Sanitary Sewers:

In 2001, the Los Angeles County Engineering Department announced to Rancho Palos Verdes that they would no longer maintain our sanitary sewers under contract. The same NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) permit that they had supported would have put some of the liability for spills on them. We have instituted a study that should give us an idea of the needs in early 2004. At this point we do not know what that number might be.


It would be foolhardy to undertake a repair project of the storm drains without the information on the sanitary sewers in hand. As stated above, we do not know at this point what the number will be. My proposal is to take a comprehensive long-term view of the infrastructure needs including the timing of major road repairs with the repair or replacement of piping under them. It is a common sense approach that minimizes the disruption to our residents and takes care of our needs over a longer period of time and at less total cost. This proposal will greatly reduce the need for tax increases to pay for it. We must use the most modern methods and equipment to keep costs down. There is often extensive lead time before projects can start because of easement acquisition and surveying that is needed. These projects will not be different in that respect. I don't believe that we need to try to do these projects in ten years or less.

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