Here in California (and in Los Angeles in particular), we have an election coming up. You know what that means: Every election, I do a detailed ballot analysis of my sample ballot. This is where I examine each candidate and share my conclusions, and invite you to convince me to vote for the other jerk. Because this is a long ballot, I’m splitting this analysis into a few chunks (note: links may not be available until all segments are posted):
- State and National Offices (excluding judges)
- County and City (Los Angeles) Local Offices (excluding judges)
- Local and State Measures (nee Propositions)
- Judicial Offices (County and State)
Note: This analysis is NOT presented in the same order as the Sample Ballot (the ballot order makes no sense). I’ve attempted instead to present things in more logical order.
This part covers the Local Offices (excluding US Congress and State Assembly)
- State Measures: Measure 1 ❦ Measure 26 ❦ Measure 27 ❦ Measure 28 ❦ Measure 29 ❦ Measure 30 ❦ Measure 31
- Los Angeles County Measures: Measure A ❦ Measure C
- Los Angeles City Measures: Measure LH ❦ Measure SP ❦ Measure ULA
- Los Angeles Community College District Measures: Measure LA
There were no state measures on the June ballot; and the city and county measures on the June ballot were already decided.
State of California
Measure 1: CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM (Abortion)
Amends California Constitution to expressly include an individual’s fundamental right to reproductive freedom, which includes the fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and the fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives. This amendment does not narrow or limit the existing rights to privacy and equal protection under the California Constitution. Fiscal Impact: No direct fiscal effect because reproductive rights already are protected by state law.
This is a very controversial measure that, for me, has a very simple answer. My religion (Judaism) puts the health of the mother first. Period. End of Sentence. My religion also does not consider the soul to enter the body until the first breath is taken. Again, simple.
To have a full ban on abortion, or to have laws overly limiting abortion, impacts my constitutional freedom to exercise my religion. Its that simple. The Federal Government may not be able to, under the current set of laws and amendments, find an explicit constitutional right FOR abortion. But there clearly is a constitutional right that prevents them from banning abortion. Freedom of citizens to practice their religion.
Having a right to reproductive freedom does not make it mandatory for any individual to get an abortion. That’s a personal choice. It does not make it mandatory for any physician to perform an abortion. That’s their personal choice. It may make it mandatory for an institution that accepts state funds to permit abortions in their facility, conducted by those physicians who are willing to do so.
For those that believe abortion is a sin, consider this: You can only do good if you personally make the choice to do so. Mandating it by law is coercing, not doing a good deed. You need to encourage people to make the right choices, not use the law as a cudgel.
So, as I said. My position on this is easy.
Your position on it should be as well. Ask yourself what your beliefs are in this area. Then ask yourself: Should I be imposing my beliefs on someone that believes differently? If the answer is “No”, that your beliefs are precisely that: YOUR beliefs, then your vote is simple: Yes on Measure 1.
You might say: But California’s laws are strong enough. Alas, they aren’t. We’ve seen what a determined court can do. We’ve seen what a political breeze can do. Enshrining this in the constitution is the only way to preserve our freedom of choice.
And, again, if your choice is not to have an abortion …. don’t have one. I won’t make you have one if you don’t want one.
The argument of the “No” side starts with taxpayer-funded late abortions. Of course, there is nothing in the measure that discusses taxpayer funding. Of course, there is nothing that mandates late-term abortions. In fact, if a pregnancy has gone into the third trimester, that typically means the baby was wanted but something has gone wrong. The baby wouldn’t be viable, and the mother’s life needs to be saved. There are no doctors out there taking a viable infant out of a mother and killing it. That is a scare tactic being used; it isn’t reality.
Again, Measure 1 has nothing about funding in it. It doesn’t divert any funds. It doesn’t change any funds that are being spent.
Who is against Measure 1? That’s quite telling. A coalition of Christian-based faith organizations and Republicans aligned with the Religious Right. No other religions are represented. This is clearly an attempt to push one religion’s viewpoint.
The arguments against this are primarily scare tactics.
When I was building the placeholder for this post, the language I had for the conclusion was “Because I said so.”. But that really applies here. Measure 1 is congruent with my faith, and to do anything else would be allowing some other group to dictate how I practice my religion. Abortion bans are against my religion. Reproductive freedom is a religious right. Nuff said.
Measure 26: ALLOWS IN-PERSON ROULETTE, DICE GAMES, SPORTS WAGERING ON TRIBAL LANDS (In-Person Sports Betting).
Also allows: sports wagering at certain horseracing tracks; private lawsuits to enforce certain gambling laws. Directs revenues to General Fund, problem-gambling programs, enforcement. Fiscal Impact: Increased state revenues, possibly reaching tens of millions of dollars annually. Some of these revenues would support increased state regulatory and enforcement costs that could reach the low tens of millions of dollars annually.
As the voter summary notes: A yes vote means that four racetracks could offer in-person sports betting. Racetracks would pay the state a share of sports bets made. Tribal casinos could offer in-person sports betting, roulette, and games played with dice (such as craps) if permitted by individual tribal gambling agreements with the state. Tribes would be required to support state sports betting regulatory costs at casinos. People and entities would have a new way to seek enforcement of certain state gambling laws.
The Yes side emphasizes that this is highly regulated, and that it benefits the tribes. But it doesn’t benefit all tribes — which is why there is heavy advertising against this. The folks for this are the tribes that will benefit, and the politicians that will benefit. You’ll note these are the smaller tribes, with the smaller casinos. The big tribes — especially those that have been investing in Las Vegas — are against this and supporting 27 instead.
Further, although the carrot is there in terms of state revenue, look at the numbers: “According to a report by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst, Prop 26 will result in “increased state revenues, potentially reaching the tens of millions of dollars annually.” Tens of millions may sound large, but for the state budget — that’s miniscule. This really doesn’t help the state all that much. It benefits the tribes.
You’ll see arguments against this about it making gambling worse. Well, we already opened that do and this isn’t closing it.
Voting “No”, to be blunt, leaves things in this area the way they were, modulo Measure 27.
The No side argues: Five California tribal casinos sponsoring Prop 26 have become some of the wealthiest and most powerful special interests in the state. Now they are pushing Prop 26 to guarantee themselves a virtual monopoly on all gaming in California by giving private trial lawyers the powers of the Attorney General to bury their licensed cardroom competitors with frivolous lawsuits. Prop 26 opens the door to a massive expansion of gambling—allowing its sponsors to add exclusivity over roulette, dice and sports wagering to their current monopoly on slot machines.
In other words, this gores the ox of the card rooms. Who else is against it? Loads of progressive organizations, veterans organizations, social justice groups. Both Democratic and Republican groups are against this. Taxpayer associations are against this.
Measures 26 and 27 are not an “either-or”. You can vote both of them down. That’s what I plan to do. I don’t see any advantage in this gaming expansion. I would prefer it if we engineer ways for tribes to raise funds that isn’t at the expense of vulnerable individuals. No.
Measure 27: ALLOWS ONLINE AND MOBILE SPORTS WAGERING OUTSIDE TRIBAL LANDS (Online Sports Betting)
Allows Indian tribes and affiliated businesses to operate online/mobile sports wagering outside tribal lands. Directs revenues to regulatory costs, homelessness programs, nonparticipating tribes. Fiscal Impact: Increased state revenues, possibly in the hundreds of millions of dollars but not likely to exceed $500 million annually. Some revenues would support state regulatory costs, possibly reaching the mid-tens of millions of dollars annually.
The supporters of this proposition tout the money going to homelessness services and mental health, but the true is there isn’t all that much. Again, possibly in the hundreds of millions — and how much are the supporters making? This measure essentially makes online sports betting legal (and most of the companies doing such betting are out of state), with a percentage coming back to the tribes that contract with those large companies (and you know who gets the bigger end of that stick), and an even smaller percentage going to the state.
So now look at that hundreds of millions estimate. If that’s going to the state, how much are these out of state companies making?
So who is behind 27? They show the homelessness groups, and they present the proposition as an either-or with 26. The reality is that the biggest donors in support of Prop. 27 are sports betting and digital gaming entertainment companies, including FanDuel, BetMGM, and DraftKings. Not the native american tribes. That says quite a bit.
Again, this isn’t an either-or. No leaves things the way they are. Online sports betting remains illegal in California.
The coalition against 26 is who you would expect. The folks in favor of 27. The folks against an expansion of gaming in California. Organizations that help the homeless and mental health. Social justice groups. Republican and Democratic organizations.
My answer here is the same as for 26: Measures 26 and 27 are not an “either-or”. You can vote both of them down. That’s what I plan to do. I don’t see any advantage in this gaming expansion. I would prefer it if we engineer ways for tribes to raise funds that isn’t at the expense of vulnerable individuals. No. I also don’t like businesses exploiting the California initiative process for their gain.
Measure 28: PROVIDES ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR ARTS AND MUSIC EDUCATION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS (Art and Music)
Provides additional funding from state General Fund for arts and music education in all K–12 public schools (including charter schools). Fiscal Impact: Increased state costs of about $1 billion annually, beginning next year, for arts education in public schools.
In general, I support more arts and music education — unsurprising, given my love of theatre, and my belief that programs like this provide benefits in many areas (such as public speaking, communication of ideas, mathematics, and such. When I explored the “Yes” arguments via the “pro” websites, they made the same arguments: the value of this form of education. I don’t think that anyone disputes it.
The issue is more how to pay for it. Should there be a mandatory set-aside for this funding? Where will the money come from? The state’s general fund. Although this doesn’t raise taxes, it does take money away from other programs that depend on the general fund. So it is really not an ideal solution.
The more progressive papers, such as the LA Times, support this. They acknowledge the funding is pulled from the General Fund, and “without a new revenue source like a tax or fee, it could eventually come at the expense of other state-funded programs. While that isn’t an issue right now with the state swimming in a gigantic budget surplus, it’s likely to constrain lawmakers as soon as revenues tighten again. This is a real concern, and why we previously opposed this effort.” They go on to note that “voters must act where state and local leaders have failed. Not only is arts education supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans, it is essential for building children’s capacity for creativity and self-expression, critical thinking, empathy and other skills that help them engage with school and civic society. Studies have also linked it to improved attendance, better scores on standardized tests and higher college aspirations.” In other words, the benefits outweigh the risks.
The “no” side on this issue is less organized. There wasn’t a ballot opposing article submitted. I’ve seen a few papers arguing against the measure, primarily from the more Republican leaning papers (Bay Area News Group), and from Conservative radio hosts. Their primary argument is opposition to any earmarks. They want more accountability for the money that is spent — a traditional way that fiscal conservatives avoid the issue. They believe the money is there, but is going to bureaucrats and regulatory oversight, not the actual goal of the funds.
The opposition to this seems a bit lukewarm and unconvincing. I agree with the LA Times that when the legislature fail to establish budgetary priorities that the people want, the people can help fix the situation. A better approach might have been a lockbox equivalent: a small percentage of media ticket sales to fund education, but that’s harder to administer. But I still think the priority is important. A second way at looking at measures is to “follow the money”: to see what special interests stand to gain or lose from that. There’s no organized opposition, meaning no one really stands to lose. On the supporter side, it is mostly individuals and education professionals (which make sense), and Fender Guitar, which also makes sense. Nothing surprising comes from following the money. Given my view of the importance of the arts, I support this.
Measure 29: REQUIRES ON-SITE LICENSED MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL AT KIDNEY DIALYSIS CLINICS AND ESTABLISHES OTHER STATE REQUIREMENTS (Kidney Dialysis)
Requires physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant on site during treatment. Requires clinics to: disclose physicians’ ownership interests; report infection data. Fiscal Impact: Increased state and local government costs likely in the tens of millions of dollars annually.
Seems like we’ve been here before, doesn’t it? We had Prop 8 back in 2018, that regulated the amount clinics could charge. It failed. We had Prop 23 back in 2020, which would have required a medical professional to be on-site. It failed. The proponents think third time is the charm.
Who are the proponents? From the “Pro” website: Sponsored by Service Employees International Union – United Healthcare Workers West. Committee major funding from Service Employees International Union – United Healthcare Workers West. In other words: Healthcare workers, who would directly benefit from this.
Now, when I posted that I was thinking of voting “no” on this, a friend on FB noted: “[My position on 29 is] based on my late mother’s experience with the dialysis industry. “Industry” is the most appropriate description: Dialysis is now operated by a cartel of three large corporations that have bought up essentially all the formerly-independent dialysis facilities. My mother found that the three facilities she used during the last two years of her life were run like factory assembly lines and severely understaffed, to better serve the needs of executives and shareholders at the expense of patients. And the “care” she got was too often less than satisfactory. Because the assembly lines were processing humans rather than standardized process-controlled widgets, there were inevitably problems that clogged up the assembly line. If more than one patient had a problem, it was a matter of sheer luck which one would get help while the others suffered. And the lack of physicians or other advanced practitioners further compromised the ability of the struggling staff to provide proper care. My mother died 10 years ago, and I’d imagine the situation for patients is much worse today. While Prop. 29 is far from perfect, it’s an attempt to address this problem while giving the overworked staff some countervailing power over their corporate overlords who care only about providing the best wealth care for their shareholders (and themselves). So it’s no surprise that the cartel are spending millions of dollars on scary commercials featuring patients terrified that the cartel will be forced to close their dialysis factory if the measure passes, and imploring us to spare their lives by voting no. In fact, the only real threat the measure poses is to the cartel’s executives and shareholders, who risk losing some profit because they would have to spend more money on staffing. The fact is that the industry is incredibly profitable, and will likely be even more so as an overweight population ages.”
I think those are good, or if not good at least intriguing, points. So I went looking to see where the arguments like this were. Calmatters indicated that no papers to date have endorsed 29. Both liberal and conservative papers are against it. The Yes side only shows the California Democratic Committee and the California Labor Federations. The sponsors in favor are only the healthcare unions. The No side has loads of doctors and nursing organizations — not just the operators of clinics. Patient advocates are against this. Veterans groups are against this.
The conclusion seems to be that although there is a need to improve conditions at these clinics, this particular measure is not the way to do it. Further, trying multiple times is likely overdoing it, and the electorate will not believe future attempts — at least backed by the current backers of this.
An analysis in the LA Times makes even clearer what is going on here: “The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare West has been attempting unsuccessfully for years to organize workers at the two largest dialysis companies, DaVita and Fresenius. The firms have resisted and worker interest seems weak. The union has responded by smacking the providers with costly ballot initiatives in three straight elections. The tacit message: Allow unionizing or we’ll keep forcing you to spend big money opposing our initiatives.” How do we know this? Again, from the article: “But if the situation [as described by the unions] is that bad, why isn’t the union making a serious effort to pass Proposition 29? It qualified the measure for the ballot by collecting enough voter signatures, then essentially took a hike. The campaign has spent $7.9 million, practically all of it for signature gathering. There have been no TV ads and won’t be. Only recently was a modest website created. Total campaign spending will probably end up around $10 million, including for signatures” I’ll add here that, if the situation is as dire as the union’s state, why aren’t the muckraking newspapers getting behind this initiative, especially those that support the unions? The article in the Times concludes that the spending patterns indicate the goal isn’t to pass the bill, but “to harass the clinics and force them to spend heavily to protect themselves”.
On the no side are the dialysis clinics, primarily because their ox will be gored: this will add a lot of expense. But more significantly, “no” is supported by doctors, nurses, patient advocate groups, veterans groups, and more. The LA Times, in its rejection of this, noted “The 2022 initiative — and the two before it — was placed on the ballot by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare West, which is in a protracted battle with the two largest private dialysis companies, DaVita and Fresenius, to organize workers. The measure has a number of needless provisions, such as requiring infections to be reported to the state, though these data are being reported to the federal government now, and prohibiting dialysis centers from discriminating due to payer source, which even the proponents say is not a problem now. But the most consequential provision is the requirement that a physician, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant with experience be on-site at all times at the roughly 650 dialysis centers in the state. The proponents says the proposition is intended to improve patient care. It’s an assertion they can’t back up with evidence. No other state requires a doctor on-site, nor do the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services or the California State Department of Public Health, which regulates dialysis centers. Nor is there evidence that the current arrangement has harmed patients.”
Saying something repeatedly does not make it true. We learned that from the Trump administration. This is a battle between the unions and the clinics, and the patients are the ones that will be hurt. I agree with the “no” side.
Measure 30: PROVIDES FUNDING FOR PROGRAMS TO REDUCE AIR POLLUTION AND PREVENT WILDFIRES BY INCREASING TAX ON PERSONAL INCOME OVER $2 MILLION (Electric Vehicle Subsidy)
Allocates tax revenues to zero-emission vehicle purchase incentives, vehicle charging stations, and wildfire prevention. Fiscal Impact: Increased state tax revenue ranging from $3.5 billion to $5 billion annually, with the new funding used to support zero-emission vehicle programs and wildfire response and prevention activities.
This is one of the more misleading propositions on the ballot. Proponents make it sound like the progressive dream: tax the wealthy, while supporting electric vehicles and fighting wildfires. When you go to their website, they tout the clean air benefit of the act. That’s their focus. That’s why the Lung Association supports this. It helps fights wildfires. That’s why firefighters support this. But where does the bulk of funding go? To provide subsidies for purchasing electric vehicles.
Loads of progressive organizations are behind this. Environmental. Health. Unions. They all will benefit.
But who else is supporting this? Who is providing the funding for the advertising? From the bottom of the Yes page: “Clean Air California, a Coalition of CalFire Firefighters, Working Families, Rideshare Companies, and Environmental Groups. Committee Major Funding from: Lyft, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and Zinc Collective.” Lyft is almost singlehandedly behind this. As the No side notes: “The state of California recently ruled that 90% of rideshare vehicles must be electric vehicles by 2030. Lyft is trying to force the taxpayers to foot the bill – rather than spend their own corporate money to support their drivers and comply with the new law. Lyft wants voters to believe Prop 30 is about clean air and wildfires instead of what it actually is: Prop 30 is a flawed and corporate carveout scheme to further line the pockets of Silicon Valley tech billionaires.”
There is a large coalition against this, including the Governor. The LA Times writes “Proposition 30 on the November ballot would do it by raising taxes on the rich to pay for electric vehicles and charging stations. While it may be tempting to put the burden on the rich — again — for one of California’s top priorities, voters should say no. Proposition 30 has too many flaws. It’s bankrolled by one special interest and it doubles down on an unsustainable funding model.” They also note “Proposition 30 would also lock in a tax hike and a funding scheme for 20 years with little flexibility to cancel or make significant changes to the program to meet evolving needs. “
This proposition is an example of “right idea, wrong execution”. As written, it primarily benefits a small number organizations, locks the state in volatile funding sources with little oversight, and can hurt the state in the long run. They need to try again with something more balanced. No.
Measure 31: REFERENDUM ON 2020 LAW THAT WOULD PROHIBIT THE RETAIL SALE OF CERTAIN FLAVORED TOBACCO PRODUCTS (Flavored Tobacco)
A “Yes” vote approves, and a “No” vote rejects, a 2020 law prohibiting retail sale of certain flavored tobacco products. Fiscal Impact: Decreased state tobacco tax revenues ranging from tens of millions of dollars annually to around $100 million annually.
A Yes vote keeps the law that bans candy-flavored tobacco, including e-cigarettes and minty-menthol cigarettes.
You may ask: But aren’t there already laws that keep tobacco and e-cigs out of the hands of those under 21. There are also similar laws for liquor. Kids still drink. The Yes side notes: “Unfortunately, experience has shown that even with strong youth access laws, youth are still able to obtain flavored tobacco products through circles like groups of friends. And with candy flavors like sour apple, fruity pebbles and sugar cookie, and minty menthol (the original candy-flavored cigarette), it’s clear that Big Tobacco is targeting youth for these products. According to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey, 72.6% of middle and high school e-cigarette users under 18 report obtaining e-cigarettes from social sources—primarily friends. These restrictions have no impact on youth who are accessing e-cigarettes from sources who can buy them legally.”
As such, the argument for yes is that if they aren’t for sale in the state, kids have to work harder to get them. No prohibition is perfect, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
Who is supporting this? As the page notes: “sponsored by Nonprofit Health Organizations. Committee major funding from: Michael R. Bloomberg, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and the Hospitals California Teachers Association/Issues PAC”. A large number of associations are supporting this.
There’s a lot of money on the “no” side. Where is it coming from? “Sponsored by Manufacturers. Committee Major Funding from Philip Morris USA and Its Affiliates, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Its Affiliates.” Translation: The Tobacco companies don’t want their products to go off-sale. That’s why they are delaying the law. Also opposing it is the Republican party–primarily because they oppose regulation in general.
I have a very simple belief: inhaling small particles into your lungs is a bad thing. That’s true if it is tobacco. That’s true if it is marijuana. That’s true if it is the unregulated chemicals in e-cigs. Inhaling smoke or vapor is bad for you, and it is bad for the people around you. Want your nicotine? Get is from gum. Get it from an edible. Same is true for pot. But smoking? Nope. I’m in favor of this regulation.
And a P.S. here: Yes, I’m in favor of pot being legal. But I think similar restrictions should be in place: smoking it should be discouraged (or at least keep your smoke to yourself), and it mustn’t be in a form that targets children. I also believe that we should be researching pot to find its true medical benefits, and providing the medicine in forms that have regulated potency. There is no good measure of potency with what we have today; it’s just like nutritional substances, where the buyer must beware.
Los Angeles County
Measure A: Providing Authority to Remove an Elected Sheriff for Cause (Remove the Sheriff)
Amends the County of Los Angeles Charter to grant the Board of Supervisors authority to remove an elected Sheriff from office for cause, including violation of law related to a Sheriff’s duties, flagrant or repeated neglect of duties, misappropriation of funds, willful falsification of documents, or obstructing an investigation, by a four-fifths vote of the Board of Supervisors, after written notice and an opportunity to be heard.
This measure is supported by three of the five supervisors, and is clearly in response to the malfeasance of Sheriff Villanueva. The LA Times captures it best: “The best argument for Los Angeles County Measure A on the Nov. 8 ballot is actually the measure’s chief opponent, Sheriff Alex Villanueva. His abysmal performance as leader of one of the nation’s largest and most troubled law enforcement agencies is an advertisement for the county charter amendment, which would permit the Board of Supervisors to remove elected sheriffs from office, for cause, by a supermajority (4 out of 5 votes). Enumerated causes include violating the law, neglecting the sheriff’s duties, misusing public funds, falsifying documents and obstructing investigations into the department’s conduct. Sheriffs, in theory, are held accountable to voters every four years when they run for reelection, and it is our hope and expectation that L.A. County voters will soon oust Villanueva. But in between elections, there is little beyond the sheriff’s own integrity to provide necessary guardrails to keep the entire department from running off course.” We need to allow the supervisors to fix this.
Against the measure is one Supervisor (from the more Conservative area of the county), Sheriff Villanueva, and some Libertarians. Supervisor Barger said “Giving the Board of Supervisors authority to remove an elected Sheriff unequivocally takes away power from the public. It’s a move that has the potential to disenfranchise voters. It also overlooks the fact that a recall process already exists to remove elected officials who fail to perform their duties.”
When you have a Sheriff who calls in officers to search a supervisors house as political retaliation, well, you can see what this measure is needed. Yes.
Enacts a tax in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County on cannabis businesses at annual rates not to exceed $10 per square foot for cultivation (adjusted for inflation) and a percentage of gross receipts for various cannabis businesses, including retail (6 percent), testing laboratory (2 percent), distribution (3 percent), manufacturing and for all other cannabis businesses (4 percent), generating approximately $10,360,000 to $15,170,000 annually, until ended by voters.
The arguments for Measure C is that it will bring income to the county, that the rates are low compared to many other jurisdictions, and it is a step towards the full implementation of an equitable legal, commercial cannibis market in LA County.
ETA: The LA Times endorsement provides some background and makes some arguments I hadn’t known. First, cannabis sales in unincorporated county areas were previously illegal. The county is just making them legal now, which will (of course) impact the current black market sales in those areas. This is voting on the tax for those sales, which is intentionally low to keep black market sales out. The Times writes: “The county plans to launch its commercial cannabis licensing program next year. It could do it without a tax, but then all the costs would have to come from licensing fees, which would necessarily be so high that only the large commercial operations could get in the game. Costly licenses would undermine a principal and worthy goal of the program: to provide access to retailers who have historically been excluded from business opportunities or who have disproportionately been undermined by criminal sanctions for growing, selling, using or possessing a substance that is now legal. The relatively low tax is an attempt to keep customers in unincorporated areas from continuing to patronize black market sellers.”
The argument against C comes from the Libertarian party (who oppose any taxes): they see it as gouging, a tax that will never go away, and a tax that will drive cannabis back to the black market.
Although I can understand the tipping point argument, the fact that there is no other opposition other than the Libertarians gives me pause. Further, when I try to go to the page listed for more information on their no arguments, I get “Trying to spy on us, are you? Your IP address has been recorded. Tell you what, you show me all your campaign material and I’ll show you mine.” Sorry, that’s not a way to get my vote. I’d be much more likely to be against this if there was a page set up by cannabis business owners presenting a rational argument as to why the proposed tax is too high. I don’t see that. I’m inclined to support this.
Los Angeles City
Measure LH: AUTHORIZATION FOR ADDITIONAL LOW-INCOME HOUSING (Low Income Housing)
Authorizes public entities in the City of Los Angeles to develop, construct, or acquire up to 5,000 additional units of low-income rental housing in each Council District, for a total of up to 75,000 additional units of low-income housing within the City, to address homelessness and affordable housing needs, subject to availability of funding and City development requirements.
The LA Times notes that this proposition is only required because of an archaic and racist provision designed to block public housing that is in the California Constitution. This provision requires that cities get voter approval before they build “low-rent housing” funded with public money. It derives from Article 34 in the state Constitution, which was adopted in 1950 amid a discriminatory backlash against public housing. Proposition LH would allow the development, construction or acquisition of up to 5,000 additional affordable housing units in each of the city’s 15 council districts. It wouldn’t require the city to build, acquire or permit a single unit, nor would it generate money for affordable housing. It’s simply an authorization for up to 75,000 units of new publicly funded affordable housing across the city. Los Angeles last received this authorization in 2008, when voters overwhelmingly allowed up to 3,500 units of publicly funded affordable housing in each council district. Since then, as the homelessness and housing crisis has grown more dire, and voters and lawmakers have committed funding to build more affordable homes, some council districts are close to hitting that 3,500-unit limit. Thus, the need for the authorization.
I could find no arguments for voting against LH.
Yes on LH.
Measure SP: PARKS AND RECREATIONAL FACILITIES PARCEL TAX (Park Tax)
Provides funding for parks, recreational centers, pools, playgrounds, waterways, beaches, green spaces, open spaces, childcare and other facilities, and increasing park equity in the City of Los Angeles, through a tax of approximately 8.4 cents per square foot on improved parcels, reduced to approximately 2.2 cents upon completion of certain programs or in 30 years, with citizen oversight and exemptions for low-income
This measure would authorize a new parcel tax of approximately 8.4 cents per square foot that would generate approximately $227 million annually. The tax would be reduced to approximately 2.2 cents per square foot upon completion of capital programs or in 30 years, whichever occurs first. These funds would be dedicated to the rehabilitation, remediation, improvement, development, addition, acquisition, and operations and maintenance of open spaces and recreational venues and programs, including the Los Angeles Zoo and civic center green spaces, waterways and water elements, including the Los Angeles River and the Sepulveda Basin, and park facilities, such as pools, childcare facilities, and playgrounds. Monies in the fund may be used to pay the costs of audits and operation of the oversight committees. A Citizen Oversight Committee shall be established to make recommendations to the City on projects to be funded. Such recommendations shall consider the City’s equity index.
The Yes side argues that the measure will address homelessness in our neighborhood parks, keep kids on the right track and out of trouble and repair aging and unsafe infrastructure in our parks and protect local water quality. They have a fair number of endorsements, mostly park organizations and church organizations.
The “no” side, predictably, starts with the usual anti-tax coalitions. But more interesting is the fact that both the Daily News and the LA Times have come out against this one. The LA Times writes: “The parks and recreational facilities parcel tax on the Nov. 8 Los Angeles city ballot doesn’t meet that basic threshold [of giving confidence how the permanent parcel tax will be spent]. It’s a blank check to City Hall that was slapped together at the last minute without community input. Voters should reject the measure and demand that city leaders come back with a transparent, fully formed proposal that ensures aging park facilities are restored, new parks are built and communities know what to expect for the additional tax contribution.” They note that there’s a valid argument for a tax for parks (they are a public resource), and that City facilities still need an estimated $2.7 billion in maintenance and renovation. A 2018 assessment by the Recreation and Parks Department found that 20 recreation centers and 12 pools are in such poor condition that they should be replaced. Across city facilities, there are buckling concrete paths, dying trees and recreation centers that are too small to serve their communities. They note that the language of Proposition SP lacks any detail or funding distribution plan that would ensure the money addresses those needs. The City Council and mayor could use the tax revenue to fund any project that fits into the broad categories of open space, recreation venues and waterways. The only guidance spelled out in the ballot measure is that the funds will be “prioritized based on the city’s equity index with the goal of providing park poor communities with safe healthful access to parks and recreation facilities.” Some believe this is a backdoor to funding improvements for the 2028 Olympics.
Property taxes have gotten out of hand, and the answer is not to increase the tax rate, but to rebalance the unbalanced assessments and realistically tax business properties for the services they use. I agree with the no recommendation here.
Measure ULA: FUNDING AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND TENANT ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS THROUGH
A PROPERTY TRANSFER TAX (Affordable Housing)
Adopts an ordinance to add a tax on the sale or transfer of real property valued at over $5 million to fund affordable housing and tenant assistance programs.
This measure would impose a 4% tax on real property sales or transfers valued at over $5 million but less than $10 million; impose a 5.5% tax on real property sales or transfers valued at $10 million or more; annually adjust the property value thresholds based on the Chained Consumer Price Index; exempt certain housing, non-profit, and public entities from the tax; create a permanent tax until repealed by voters; generate approximately $600 million to $1.1 billion annually for existing and new programs; use at least 92% of the revenue for affordable housing and tenant assistance programs administered by the Los Angeles Housing Department, and up to 8% for administration; establish a Citizens Oversight Committee to make funding and program recommendations; and establish a Tenant Council to advise on housing matters.
I found a white paper analysis of this measure from UCLA. The paper notes that the tax instituted by the measure consists of fees assessed at the time a property is sold that are typically paid by the seller. The measure would raise $923 million annually for affordable housing production and homelessness prevention in the form of rent relief, income support, and legal counsel for tenants, and the paper demonstrates that Measure ULA would have a positive impact on the city’s housing crisis, while having no effect on the average Angeleno.
The measure was drafted by homeless service providers, affordable housing nonprofits, labor unions, and renters’ rights groups, and is supported by a broad coalition. It is essentially a wealth tax on overpriced housing to create more equitable housing. It might serve to cool housing prices at the top of the market.
The LA Times, in their endorsement, said “Only about 4% of all property sales would be affected by this measure — and less than 3% of single family home and condo sales. Only 727 homes or condos sold for more than $5 million in 2021, and of those, 170 sold for more than $10 million. Mostly, this transfer tax would involve apartment buildings and commercial land, though not a sizable number of those properties, based on last year’s sales. In 2021, 271 apartment buildings and 155 commercial buildings sold were valued at more than $5 million.” They also said “The measure’s proponents and policy experts estimate that the measure would fund 26,000 units of new housing in the next decade. Over the course of each year, it would also provide an estimated 40,000 households with emergency rental assistance, long-term rental assistance, utilities and basic needs, or legal counsel and eviction defense, according to the drafters of the measure. With a larger supply of affordable housing, more people with rental assistance vouchers may actually find an available apartment, which is currently a serious challenge.”
The “No” coalition is who you would expect: Those against taxes, and real estate and apartment owners that would be hit by the tax. The Daily News views it as a special interest grab. They state: “If Angelenos are serious about addressing housing affordability and homelessness, they need to push city leaders to make it easier to build more housing and to demonstrate they can actually pull off making cost-effective housing a reality. Measure ULA risks hitting Angelenos with higher costs in order to finance bloated bureaucracies.” They see failures from the previous housing bonds (HHH), and think the funds will just be wasted on administrative costs.
The No side is employing fear tactics. I found one site that said “While this “soak ax the rich” may be appealing to some, the reality is that 75% of the tax will be derived from owners of apartment and commercial properties. And since there is no such thing as a free lunch, this tax will be passed through to us in one way or another. Landlords and investors will demand higher rents for apartments to offset this exorbitant tax to achieve the desired return on investment demanded by pension funds like CalPERS. Retailers will also be subject to higher rents and will increase retail prices for essential items as food and clothing. Real estate developers and their investors will pass on opportunities to build new apartment, office, commercial, and industrial buildings in the City. More than likely, they will also pass on adaptive reuse projects that would provide significant new housing under the new state law. This will have a devastating impact on the real estate industry, one of the City’s major employers.”
Of course, this is bull. The tax only applies when properties are transferred, so there won’t be increased costs unless there is a lot of property churn. Landlords aren’t selling their properties frequently, so their costs won’t change. This is a transfer tax, remember, not a property tax.
If we want to solve the homelessness problem, there’s only one real answer: Housing. This helps in that regard. It is indexed to inflation, so increases in housing costs won’t bump folks into this. The only thing this doesn’t address is water usage from all the new housing. Yes.
Los Angeles Community College District
Measure LA: SAFETY, REPAIR, JOB TRAINING BOND MEASURE
Authorizes $5,300,000,000 in bonds at legal rates, levying $25 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, generating $345,000,000 annually while bonds are outstanding. The purpose of the bonds is to repair/upgrade local community colleges, classrooms, water pipes, sewer/gas lines, technology, science labs for nurses, paramedics, firefighters, veterans; prepare students for jobs/university transfer; remove asbestos, lead paint; acquire, construct, repair facilities, sites, equipment.
The “Yes on LA” website details all the good things that this will pay for. I believe that. The FAQ notes that Measure LA authorizes $5.3 billion in bonds at legal rates by levying $25
per $100,000 of assessed valuation of properties, generating $345 million annually. But it doesn’t say which properties, or who pays off the bonds? Neither does the fact sheet.
The LA Times, when announcing the measure, noted this is the largest bond issue in LACCD’s history. The answer is in the first sentence of that article: “asking homeowners to tax themselves between $88 and $157 a year — and in some cases more — so the district can borrow billions of dollars in what would be its largest-ever construction bond program.” The article notes that for homeowners, the estimated annual property tax payment for the bond would probably range from about $88 to $157, according to the district, but could be more for high-valued homes.
Construction unions, and the LA County Democrats, endorse this.
The LA Times article cited above noted that Ernest Moreno, the lone trustee who voted no, said it is inappropriate to spend money on new construction when the community college district lost tens of thousands of students over the last several years. Between 2019-20 and 2020-21, enrollment plummeted to 220,986 students — a decline of nearly 27,000 learners, according to state data. Many students have also opted to continue taking classes online. Critics also question the timing and necessity of the ballot measure. They argue it is wasteful to spend billions of dollars on campus infrastructure amid significant enrollment declines and an unstable economy. One other fact is that with the worsening economy, bonds have gotten more expensive as money gets riskier. That will increase the interest that must be paid.
Research on the measure showed there had to be an active campaign to convince people. That was before the economy went bad. People are going to be getting their property tax statements, and saying “Do I want to add more to this?”
The ballot argument against LA is ranting by the Libertarians about bad bad government corruption.
I agree that the LA Community College district needs the funds. But now is not the time, and I don’t think this is the way to do it. With property taxes at such a high and people’s pocketbooks taking such a hit, we can’t handle more property tax increases. Combine that with the mismangement of past LACCD construction, and the high cost of materials right now that will make the bonds be not as effective. I say we have to wait on this. I’m going NO.