Hillcrest residents to see increase in fees to maintain hillsides

FILE PHOTO. Unkempt brush and weeds encroaches on the sidewalks on Hillcrest Parkway in Castaic. Cory Rubin/The Signal

After almost 20 years of the same maintenance fees, residents of the Hillcrest area of Castaic will pay $655 for the county to landscape their now-overgrown hillsides starting in September.

Ballots went out in early June to determine whether the residents would allow Los Angeles County to continue maintaining and landscaping the community’s landscape maintenance district, with the accompanying fees rising to account for deferred maintenance, renovation of the center median at The Old Road and Hillcrest Parkway, and rehabilitation of planted material and irrigation systems.

At a Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors hearing Tuesday, the supervisors determined that, after tabulating the ballots, “no majority protest exists against the increase of existing landscape maintenance assessment” for the area. They then unanimously approved the increase.

Now, assessment rates are set to increase from $240 to $655 for the next fiscal year, which begins in September. The rise in the fee is to account for the fact that the fixed cost residents pay hasn’t been adjusted since the district was formed in 1990.

“We are extremely happy and grateful,” said resident Ingrid Riederer, who had started the group “Keep Hillcrest Green” to bring awareness to the issue. “The efforts of the Hillcrest neighbors to educate people really paid off this time. I really look forward to seeing my neighborhood be rejuvenated and beautiful.”

“I had tears in my eyes when I heard we won,” resident Laura Laughlin said.

Previously, the residents had voted “no” on the issue in 2007 and 2014. L.A. County officials reduced the level of service after the last failed attempt to raise the landscaping fees in 2014, as they could not financially maintain it.

“We’ve been working on this for four years, ever since the last effort failed,” Laughlin said. “The neighborhood really came together to make sure everyone knew about it. We worked so hard and went door to door twice to make sure everyone knew about it and how important it was. It was do or die for our neighborhood.”


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