Councilmembers Pose with Famous "Os" Around the City to Highlight Proposition O on November Ballot

Comic photo series sponsored by Natural Resources Defense Council

HOLLYWOOD (October 25, 2004) -- More than 10,000 tons of trash -- from cigarette butts to syringes -- washes up on public beaches every year, particularly early in the rainy season and after major storms such as those last week. Proposition O on the city's crowded November ballot will provide $500 million to reduce polluted stormwater runoff that contaminates Los Angeles' rivers, lakes and beaches.

Calling attention to Proposition O, Los Angeles city officials, celebrities and environmentalists posed today beneath the Hollywood sign, in front of three of the most famous "Os" in the world, and explained why "O matters to Los Angeles."

"Prop O will clean up L.A.'s contaminated stormwater runoff, which festers with bacteria, pesticides, oil, grease and trash, and is the number one source of beach pollution," said David Beckman, a senior attorney with NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).

Prop. O enjoys widespread support, including the unanimous endorsement of the L.A. City Council, the Mayor, the business and labor communities, environmental groups and more than 70 percent of voters according to polls. But the measure is dead last -- item 28 -- on the lengthy November ballot, and it must receive support from two-thirds of voters to succeed.

To help draw attention to the measure, NRDC sponsored a comic photo series that depicts Councilmembers posing with "O" landmarks across the city. The photo series, which includes nine L.A. Council members at locations from San Pedro to Hollywood and Chinatown to Play del Rey, was unveiled at Monday's event near the Hollywood sign.

Prop. O protects public health by preventing trash, toxic chemicals and dangerous bacteria from running into city rivers and beaches. It will preserve clean drinking water by protecting groundwater from contamination; reduce flooding and safeguard bays, rivers and lakes.

"Proposition O will protect the health and safety of all residents of Los Angeles," said Council President Alex Padilla. "Let's work together to keep the L.A. River, Ballona Creek, and the Santa Monica Bay clean for future generations by voting YES on Proposition O on November 2."

All projects funded through the measure must provide water quality benefits, and their primary purpose must be to reduce toxins and bacteria flowing into the most polluted waters of Los Angeles. Where feasible, the city has committed to design projects with multiple benefits including water supply, flood management, and the provision of open space, habitat and recreational areas.

"Prop O matters to all of us who want the L.A. River be a healthy river; for all of us who want clean streets; and all of us who work every day to make this a great city," proclaimed Councilmember Ed Reyes, whose district includes a major portion of the Los Angeles River. "So, yes, 'O' does matter."

Councilmember Eric Garcetti, whose district also includes portions of the Los Angeles River, said Prop. O deserves voters' support. "It's a smart approach to cleaning up our waterways so that trash and toxins stop flowing through neighborhood streets and into the L.A. River, Ballona Creek and onto the beach."

NRDC trustee Laurie David called Prop. O "one of the greatest environmental opportunities in L.A.'s history; a once in a generation opportunity." David referred to the billions of gallons of polluted runoff as a "witches brew" of trash, pesticides, oil, grease, bacteria and viruses that ends up in Santa Monica Bay. It's what "you, your kids and tens of millions of visitors swim in during warm, summer afternoons."


"I live in a family of swimmers and surfers," said actress and Heal the Bay board member Julia Louis-Dreyfus. "My husband is out there rain or shine if the waves are good. Everyone has a right to go swimming and surfing in water that won't make them sick."

During every rain, Los Angeles' 1,000 miles of storm drains carry pet waste, trash, pesticides, used motor oil, fertilizers and the rest of the toxic residue of urban living from the second largest city in the country, according to NRDC's Beckman.

Councilmember Wendy Greuel also called for support for the measure, especially in light of cities' legal obligation to address stormwater-related pollution. "Vote yes for clean water, clean beaches and rivers," said Greuel. "Let's stop paying for lawsuits and start cleaning up our water. I urge all Angelenos to vote yes on O."

Councilmember Tom LaBonge joined his colleagues in urging support for the measure. "Who among us isn't for clean water, beaches and rivers? All of us are -- so all of us can support and pass Proposition O," said Councilmember Tom LaBonge. "It is the right thing to do."

Co-chair of the Yes on Proposition O committee and former California Resources Secretary, Mary Nichols, commented on the broad-based support for the measure. "We have a terrific coalition of business, labor and environmental leaders, along with neighborhood associations literally from all across the city. The reason is pretty straightforward -- it's because everyone in the city benefits from the programs Prop. O will fund."

The photo series includes shots of Council President Alex Padilla near Dodger Stadium; Councilmember Ed Reyes in Chinatown; Councilmember Wendy Greuel and son Thomas at a tunnel slide at a North Hollywood playground; Councilmember Tom LaBonge standing on the 7th Street Bridge with a large "O" shaped balloon; Councilmember Bernard Parks at the Olympic rings in Exposition Park; Councilmember Jan Perry in front of the Caltrans Building at 100 Main St.; Councilmember Cindy Miscikowski at Del Rey Lagoon in Playa del Rey; Councilmember Eric Garcetti at the Hollywood and Vine Metro Station; Councilmember Janice Hahn with a life preserver at the Port of Los Angeles. (CDs of the photos are available upon request.)