Keep Hillcrest Green ballot goes out to Hillcrest residents

This screenshot of a Google Maps look at Hillcrest Parkway demonstrates the reduction in landscaping.
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Updated to clarify that a “no” vote would result in the elimination of the Hillcrest landscape maintenance district.

Ballots were sent out recently to the residents of the Hillcrest area of Castaic regarding their landscaping concerns, according to county officials.

Now area residents can vote on whether their property values are set to go up or down — which depend on a number of factors, such as the upkeep of an area.

The issue at hand is about frustration over overgrown hillsides in the Hillcrest area. The solution the Landscape Maintenance District officials posed was landscaping the medians, with the accompanying cost paid for by the residents who would benefit the most from such upkeep.

Fees that property owners pay to maintain the landscape haven’t been raised in over 20 years, and whether they’ll vote to pay the new price remains to be seen, said Kerjon Lee, spokesman for the county’s Department of Public Works.

The new ballots show if this proposition is approved, the assessment rates would increase from $240 to $655 and the zone would remain part of the Landscape Maintenance Districts Program. The new contract would go into effect in September 2018, and account for deferred maintenance, renovation of the center median at The Old Road and Hillcrest Parkway and rehabilitation of planted material and irrigation systems.

If the majority protests the proposition and votes no, assessments would remain at $240 for the time being, but the county would detach the Hillcrest zone from the Landscape Maintenance Districts program, at which time the assessments would end and individual property owners would become fully responsible for the landscape maintenance.

The county plans to hold a hearing July 24 at the Board of Supervisors meeting in the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration in Los Angeles, by which time all ballots would be due, Lee said.

Previously, the residents had voted on the issue in 2007 and 2014, said Castaic resident Ingrid Riederer, who also co-founded the group “Keep Hillcrest Green” to address the landscaping issue.

The group, active on Facebook, was started by residents who are “interested in restoring the maintenance in Hillcrest Park Zone LMD37 back to 100% maintenance service,” according to the page. The group has 387 members as of Monday afternoon.

Riederer said the ballot sent out had very clear information, and that she was happy with the county’s proposal.

“The Keep Hillcrest Green group is confident that the residents will vote yes and restore our neighborhood,” she said. “We’re happy that it’s finally happening, and the county has a community meeting that they’ve prepared. People need more information that the pamphlet doesn’t have. They’re definitely encouraged to attend that meeting. Our feedback so far has been very positive.”

Lee confirmed the meeting will be held at the end of the month. The location has not been announced.

“A public meeting will be held the last week of June to walk the community through the balloting process, including a discussion of how the rate was determined, a review of the ballot language and what a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote means,” he said. “All ballots must be received before the close of the public hearing before the county Board of Supervisors on July 24.”

A previous bidding attempt last fall, which ultimately was scrapped and redone due to a concern brought to county officials, put the cost of landscaping at around $585 per year.

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