FEMA has previously indicated many ELB and NLB property owners should be eligible for a refund of their 2001 flood insurance premium if their policies were issued by the National Flood Insurance Program in response to a lender's requirement for flood insurance. Under FEMA's rules, homeowners can request a refund of their final flood insurance premium paid for the policy year in which FEMA revises its maps.
The L.A. river project is being completed several years ahead of its original schedule because Congress (due in large part to advocacy by LB Congressman Steve Horn) appropriated as much construction money as the Corps of Engineers and L.A. County said they could use each year.
Getting the House, Senate and President to approve this was an annual legislative obstacle course. Although Horn credits bipartisan support from other House members, local officials and neighborhood activists, Horn pressed House committee members, then the full House, to approve spending the maximum amount the river-levee builders could use.
These votes were not sometimes difficult in a budget balancing Congress. The LACDA funding level Horn sought was more than proposed by the Clinton White House budget. Projects sought by other House members competed for a limited amount of money.
Each year Horn successfully persuaded the House of Representatives to go along with his LACDA maximum funding requests. On several occasions, the Senate vote for a lower funding level than the House approved, triggering a high stakes battle to persuade a House-Senate conference committee to include the higher House-voted LACDA level in the final bill.
Last year, Cong. Horn navigated through a legislative minefield after former President Clinton vetoed an Energy & Water Development appropriations bill which included the crucial L.A. river completion money. (The veto had nothing to do with LACDA, stemming from a squabble over projects on the Upper Missouri and lower Mississippi.)
The House voted to override Clinton's veto, but the Senate did not attempt an override, meaning the bill (with the L.A. river completion money) died. However, funding was revived when the part of the bill that prompted the veto was removed and a fresh version of the bill was passed (including the L.A. river completion money.)
During the multi-year process, LB neighborhood groups and activists, including the Los Altos Neighborhood Association (LANAS) and Wrigley Association, held overflow meetings that kept the issue in the spotlight.
LB City Hall (city staff, Councilmembers and the Mayor) lobbied on Capitol Hill and with FEMA. An aggressive stance was taken by L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, the L.A. County Dept. of Public Works, working in concert with area cities (notably Lakewood) comprising the "LACDA Alliance."
LBReport.com publisher Bill Pearl, who has followed FEMA's LB area proceedings since 1992, credited a combination of grassroots activism, pioneering use of the internet, and Congressional and government advocacy with the apparent approaching end of the flood tax, However, he cautioned:
"It's not over till it's over. We must be vigilant to ensure ELB and NLB are promptly restored to their pre-July 1998 status when the L.A. river project is completed."