The board will hold a public hearing at the Hall of Administration on the Los Angeles County Flood Control District's proposal to charge parcel owners an annual amount -- some call it a tax -- to pay for projects that would boost the local water supply and reduce water pollution by collecting and treating stormwater and urban runoff, and using it to recharge the aquifer.
Under the proposal, the average fee will be $54 per 5,000 square foot lot, though the actual amount would be based on how much runoff a home or business generates. For example, a big box store could pay $15,000.
Overall, the fee could generate $275 million a year in revenue.
The public hearing will coincide with the deadline for parcel owners to submit the protest forms attached to the notices they received in the mail last month about how much they would have to pay if the fee is approved.
If more than half of the 2.2 million parcel owners who received the notices file the protest forms -- considered unlikely -- the measure is automatically killed.
If not, a majority of the five-member board can vote to place the measure on a mail-only ballot, although two supervisors have already vowed to oppose that.
"I support clean water and if we need to do something, fine," Supervisor Don Knabe said.
He said it was "outrageous" that many who received the notices thought they were junk mail and discarded them without opening them. He also criticized the lack of information about exactly what projects would be built with the money.
"There are no projects attached," Knabe said. "This is just a pot of money forever -- there's no deadline on how long this would be charged."
"Some of these parcels are school districts, churches, community-based groups," he added. "Anyone who owns property is going to get smacked with this thing and not really understand what's happening."
Knabe said the measure should have been put to voters in a referendum, as opposed to a mail-only ballot.
In a referendum, two-thirds of voters would be needed to approve the measure. In a mail-only ballot, it would take only a majority of the votes cast.
Supervisor Michael Antonovich considers the proposed fee a burdensome tax.
"At a time when families are struggling, schools are hurting, and businesses are fleeing the state, they are asking property owners, schools and businesses to fork over more money when we are already spending upwards of $350 million a year on stormwater cleanup," he said.
Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina did not respond to requests for comment.
Also protesting the fee are Los Angeles Unified School District, which would be charged a total of $4.6 million for its nearly 4,000 parcels, as well as business groups like the Woodland Hills Tarzana Chamber of Commerce and the South Bay Association of Chambers of Commerce.
Proponents of the measure, argue it is vital to the sustainability of the region's water supply.
Kerjon Lee, spokesman for the county Department of Public Works, said the fee would fund projects similar to those built in Sun Valley Park. where massive caverns were constructed beneath soccer fields to collect rain.
The water, naturally filtered by stones and sediments during its descent underground, is then used to recharge the aquifer.
The project not only added to the water supply, but eliminated the flooding that used to be the bane of that neighborhood.
Andy Lipkis, president of the environmental nonprofit, TreePeople, added construction work for the projects would create jobs.
Adel Hagekhalil, an assistant director at the city of Los Angeles' Bureau of Sanitation who is responsible for wastewater collection and watershed protection, said the project represents a smart long-term return on funds.
"Every time it rains, billions of gallons are wasted down to the ocean, while we import two-thirds of our water," Hagekhalil said.
"The concern that we have is what the cost of water will be in 10 years, when importing will become so expensive," he added.
"This is really a small investment today that is going to pay huge amounts tomorrow."