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CA Voters Could Be Paying for Lead Remediaton

Thursday, January 25, 2018

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Despite a state appeals court decision last November, Californians’ fight over who should pay for lead paint remediation is far from over. That’s because the three companies who were ordered to clean up the mess are bankrolling a ballot initiative that residents could see in this year’s election cycle, one that has them footing the bill instead.

What Is It?

The Healthy Homes and Schools Act calls for a $2 billion bond that would fund the remediation of lead paint, mold, asbestos and other environmental dangers in homes, schools and senior citizen facilities, reports the Los Angeles Times.

© / XiFoto

The Healthy Homes and Schools Act calls for a $2 billion bond that would fund the remediation of lead paint, mold, asbestos and other environmental dangers in homes, schools and senior citizen facilities.

Proponents say that financing the clean-up with a bond could allow for more wide-ranging solutions, instead of just the court-mandated clean-ups that have so far only been in certain jurisdictions where lawsuits have been filed.

"The Healthy Homes and Schools Act is a holistic and comprehensive approach to cleaning up existing homes in California by creating a statewide solution to address a variety of hazards in homes, such as mold, lead, asbestos, pests and other threats," said Tiffany Moffatt, a spokesperson for the bond campaign.

"Essentially, the initiative provides rehabilitation for old housing—providing a broader public benefit for all Californians versus cherry-picking winners and losers."

The Opposition

However, those opposed note that if the measure is passed, it would essentially reverse the court decision that requires three companies—ConAgra, NL Industries and The Sherwin-Williams Company—to pay for the fixes, a battle that went on for nearly 20 years. It would also effectively keep anyone else from filing such a lawsuit.

"It seems to me that this is designed to erase liability in that case and also potential liability in any future cases for them, and substitute taxpayer-funded bond measures to do the remediation that these companies would otherwise be responsible for," said Sean Hecht, a UCLA School of Law professor who has followed the litigation.

California’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office found that the bond would cost the state about $110 million a year for the next 35 years to repay with interest. Others are worried that this bond measure could effectively stop a different housing bond measure from passing, one that aims to fund low-income housing and home loans for veterans.

The three companies recently donated $6 million to the campaign, which needs to collect 365,880 signatures to secure a place on the ballot.


Tagged categories: Ethics; Health and safety; Laws and litigation; Lawsuits; Lead; Lead; Lead paint abatement; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; Safety

Comment from Kay Melcher, (1/25/2018, 3:42 PM)

This bond is a slimy attempt by slimy companies to escape the consequences of their slimy behavior. I do not think California voters will be fooled into voting for it.

Comment from Gregory Stoner, (1/25/2018, 6:02 PM)

Beyond this bond issue the courts need to be clear about the responsibility of the three companies. They should not be able to shirk their role in the cleanup as it pertains to funding.

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