🗳️ Mar 2024 Primary Election Ballot Analysis (III): Local and State Measures

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):

  1. State and National Offices (excluding judges)
  2. County and City (Los Angeles) Local Offices (excluding judges)
  3. Local and State Measures (nee Propositions)
  4. Judicial Offices (County and State)
  5. Summary

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 State and Local Measures

  • State Measures: Measure 1
  • Los Angeles City Measures: Measure HLA


State of California



Per the Voter Guide: Amends Mental Health Services Act to provide additional behavioral health services. Fiscal Impact: Shift roughly $140 million annually of existing tax revenue for mental health, drug, and alcohol treatment from counties to the state. Increased state bond repayment costs of $310 million annually for 30 years.

Supporters: California Professional Firefighters; CA Assoc. of Veteran Service Agencies; National Alliance on Mental Illness–CA

Opponents: Mental Health America of California; Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association; CalVoices

The LA Times endorsement regarding this Measure describes it as follows:

The measure has two parts. A state bond would raise $6.4 billion to build treatment facilities and desperately needed affordable housing. Interest would be paid from the state budget, not from any new tax.

The second part is an amendment of the Mental Health Services Act, the 2004 ballot measure taxing annual income over $1 million by 1%. The tax would remain unchanged, but the proceeds would be reallocated with new mandates on counties to spend more on housing, and would expand to cover people dealing with addiction as well as mental illness. It would increase funding for housing units and treatment beds for people with the most serious mental illnesses and addictions. How big an increase? It depends. It costs more to acquire property and build in Los Angeles County than, say, Siskiyou County, but the need is greatest [in Los Angeles County].


For the YES side, the endorsements are buried in the media fact sheet. The coalition includes law enforcement, medical groups, veterans, the LA Times, the SF Chronicle, and the Bakersfield Californian. The LA Times notes: “Proposition 1 on the March 5 ballot won’t help the vast majority of the approximately 180,000 Californians living on the street, nor even most of the estimated one-third with serious psychiatric illnesses, substance use problems or both.  […]  But better to get too few new resources than none at all. When compared with the cost of doing nothing, Proposition 1 is an important step forward in meeting California’s responsibility to the most vulnerable homeless people and those housed Californians with behavioral health problems most at risk of ending up on the street.” The Times also notes the proposition isn’t perfect: “… it’s also part shell game and part crossed fingers, relying on counties to be more efficient. That’s nothing new. For half a century, Sacramento and the 58 counties have blamed each other for failing to meet our collective responsibility to treat and care for the mentally ill and addicted. Proposition 1 will help, but it is not a game changer, and the tension will remain.”

◯ No

The No side argues that Proposition 1 is huge, expensive and destructive, costing taxpayers more than $9 billion. It also redirects the spending of at least $30 billion in mental health services money in its first 10 years, cutting existing mental health services that are working. The human cost of this measure is incalculable. The Times rebuts this, noting: “It’s not an idle concern. Counties will have less flexibility over how to spend their allocation, and that could jeopardize a host of urgently needed services such as emergency psychiatric response teams, treatment beds for people diverted from jail and outpatient treatment for people who are not deemed ill enough to qualify under the new mandates — but whose conditions would worsen if they lose their current services. Proponents argue that counties have resources to backfill any funds lost to new housing mandates, and it’s at least partly true. Changes in state law currently underway broaden availability of Medi-Cal reimbursement, for example, for services such as peer support or visits to sobering centers. But tapping those and other resources will depend on the creativity and industry of county governments and their mental health departments, and the many hundreds of clinics and other care providers who contract with them.”

The No side also argues that Prop. 1 builds very little housing, despite being offered as a solution to homelessness. There are better solutions that do not require excessive borrowing or cutting local programs that work. The Times also notes that the Prop 1 isn’t perfect (and I would tend to agree). Often, the No side in the arguments indicate that because the proposal isn’t PERFECT, we shouldn’t do anything. That’s just impeding progress. I’d also say that if there are better solutions, then implement them. Put your money where your mouth is. Nothing says this is an either/or. We can do both.

The No side doesn’t list supporters, but notes the League of Women Voters have come out against the Prop.

📋 Conclusion

This is a tricky one. The text is 69 pages of PDF; no one will read that. I’m not even sure the legislators that voted for this read it all. So here’s my thinking:

The conservatives and the law and order bunch bitch and moan about homelessness, and how crime is caused by folks with mental illness. But they refuse to do anything about it unless the solution is perfect. The reality is: no solution will be perfect. The search for perfection from the conservative side is just an excuse to not put their money where their mouth is. The truth is that they care about more about what they pay in taxes than doing good for someone else.

Major city sheriffs endorse this, showing that they feel it will make a dent in crime and their work. Conservative area papers endorse this as a step forward.  Law enforcement supports this. Veterans groups support this. The California Medical Association supports this. It is clear this is a step forward, even if not perfect.

I say that we move forward: Yes

Los Angeles City


The proposed ordinance states that its purpose would be to require the City to prioritize street improvement measures described in the City’s Mobility Plan. The City’s Mobility Plan includes concept maps for a connected network of pedestrian, bicycle, transit, and vehicle routes in the City. The ordinance would apply when the City makes a qualifying improvement, including a paving project, to a segment of a City-owned street identified in the Mobility Plan’s network concept maps. Under certain circumstances, the ordinance would provide for the installation of street enhancements described in the Mobility Plan’s network as part of the improvements along that segment undertaken by the City. The ordinance also would require the City to provide publicly accessible information regarding improvement projects to enable the public to monitor and evaluate implementation of the Mobility Plan.

Here’s the link to the City’s Mobility Plan. It is 202 pages.

⚫ Yes

The Yes side has a detailed website that allows exploration of the plan. I’m impressed with the interface and how one can explore it. The ideas behind HLA are good.

The concern that many people have is that the plan will likely result in road diets, and that will lead to congestion. What they don’t realize is that the congestion is intentional. Caltrans and Regional Transportation Planners have moved from a concern about free flowing traffic to a concern about reducing Vehicle Miles Travelled. Congestion creates pain, and that pain will move people onto shared transit, or on to active transportation (bikes, pedestrians). So that is the goal.

There is a wide coalition endorsing this, including the LA Times.

◯ No

The no side is primarily concerned about road diets. I’m familiar with these folks from my roadgeeking: they are the folks that want to keep widening roads, and don’t want anything that will slow them down. They do not understand the thoughts about VMT.

One article I found noted that the City Council originally vetoed HLA. Then enough signatures were obtained to require them to put it on the ballot.

📋 Conclusion

I’m a highway guy. You think I would be against anything that might slow down a road. But I’m also concerned about the future. We need to address climate change. We need to get people onto transit. We need to make our cities more walkable and get more people on active transportation. We need more ridesharing. Updating roads for active transportation while you are repaving them and otherwise doing work makes sense. So I’m in the ⚫ Yes camp. But I understand if you go the other way, because you don’t want road diets. Congestion just gives me more time to listen to podcasts (such as California Highways: Route by Route).


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