Prop. 218 Is All Wet

Prop. 218 is indirectly leading to millions of dollars in rain-related property losses.

Apartments and homes in San Pedro flooded with two feet of water. Cars on Long Beach streets nearly submerged as an urban kayaker paddles by. Residents in La Crescenta living in perpetual fear of losing everything due to debris flows as a consequence of the Station Fire. The end result of this week’s L.A. storms will be millions of dollars in property losses. 

And what is anyone doing about it? The news documents the heroic efforts of first responders to minimize impacts, but these efforts provide small-scale solutions. They don’t address the large-scale flood control infrastructure improvements needed to protect property throughout the state. Local government officials are doing what they can, but thanks to Proposition 218 their hands are tied. They can’t do much more unless two-thirds of the voters support a stormwater fee increase.

Two thirds — that’s the super-majority needed to protect life and property. There is something horribly wrong with that calculus. Ask the hundreds of people evacuated near the Station Fire or the victims of flooding in Long Beach or San Pedro. Government is there to protect life and property, except from flooding thanks to the narrow wording of 218.

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