LA WATCHDOG - On June 28, the Neighborhood and Community Enrichment Committee approved the 326-page Environmental Impact Report for the Zoo’s 2022 Vision Plan. This will guide the physical transformation and improvement of the Zoo’s facilities and operations over the next five to ten years.
There was, however, no discussion of the $650 million cost of the Plan, the sources of this capital, the impact on our taxes, or the Zoo’s $50 million budget, which is already subsidized by the City’s General Fund to the tune of $25 million.
There are many other competing projects which take priority over the Zoo’s 2022 Vision Plan.
At the top of the list is the need for permanent supportive and interim housing for the homeless. While the City has not shared its plans, the capital costs to house 46,000 homeless individuals is probably in the range of $15 billion or more.
The City has indicated that more than $5 billion is required for street and sidewalk (including access and curb ramp) repairs. Another $2 billion is needed to address the facilities of the Department of Recreation and Parks.
The debt service on the $22 billion of bonds, assuming they are approved by two-thirds of the voters, would average almost $1.5 billion a year over the next thirty years. This would increase our property taxes by 75%.
The City’s Civic Center Master Plan calls the development 1.5 million square feet of office space needed to consolidate City departments adjacent to City Hall and 3.5 million square feet of housing. This will cost at least $3 billion. (Just imagine the City as a landlord. What could possibly go wrong!)
The City’s Los Angeles River revitalization plan of the eleven-mile segment near Griffith Park is expected to cost the City $1.2 billion. However, estimates are as high as $6 billion if the City were to revitalize the 31 mile stretch of the River from the headwaters in Canoga Park to the City line at Vernon.
There are many other pressing needs, including the $500 million for the expansion of the Convention Center, the deferred maintenance of the City’s buildings, the upgrading of the City’s management information systems and IT infrastructure, and the $8 billion needed to comply with the Clean Water Act.
Is the $650 million to fund the Zoo’s 2022 Vision Plan a priority? NO!
The 2022 Vision Plan has also created controversy. Many environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, the Community Forest Advisory Committee, and the Neighborhood Council Sustainability Committee, have registered objections. Concerns, among others, include the removal of 74,000 cubic years of soil and rock, the removal of trees, the impact on the ridgeline, and the Disneyfication of the Zoo.
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. He can be reached at: [email protected].)
Final Environmental Impact Report
June 8, 2023
Los Angeles Times Editorial
June 19, 2023
July 7, 2023