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Voters' Guide 

Making sense of the ballot measures

Wednesday, Nov 1 2006
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L.A. City Measures:

PROPOSITION H: The campaign for Proposition H is about housing — as in, $1 billion worth of affordable-housing initiatives over the next 10 years. The home-building industry signed on to the bond last year as a way to keep the City Council from approving a plan for “inclusionary zoning” — a proposal that would have required at least 15 percent of every new housing development to serve low- or moderate-income tenants. The deal immediately allowed city officials to shift the burden from home builders, a group that scored big in the last real estate boom, to homeowners, who are being asked to pay at least $50 per year in higher property taxes to fund subsidized-housing programs.

Money from Prop. H will likely go into the affordable-housing trust fund, which is supposed to allocate $100 million annually on housing, said Council President Eric Garcetti. “If this doesn’t pass, nobody has any clue where we would get that money right now,” he said. (David Zahniser)

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PROPOSITION J: This is a no-brainer: Voters six years ago passed Proposition F, which promised new fire stations on two-acre sites. Trouble is, it’s hard to amass that much land in high-rent places. Prop. J will allow Hollywood’s fire station to be on a smaller site. (DZ)

PROPOSITION R: This is marginally about clean government and much more about term limits — that is, giving each Los Angeles City Council member a shot at a third four-year term. That might just explain why so many special interests, from real estate developers to labor unions, are lining up behind a measure that purports to crack down on, um, special interests. See “The Z Files,” page 15. (DZ)

Statewide Measures:

PROPOSITION 1A: TRANSPORTATION FUNDING

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has a package of five measures, and this is the only one that does not ask the voters for more money. Instead, Proposition 1A was crafted to keep the state Legislature, and future governors, from taking the $2 billion in sales tax derived from gasoline sales each year and using it to balance the state budget. (DZ)

PROPOSITION 1B: HIGHWAY SAFETY, TRAFFIC REDUCTION, AIR QUALITY AND PORT SECURITY BOND

The Big Kahuna of bond measures, Proposition 1B asks voters to approve $19.9 billion to pay for transportation projects — roads, rail, port infrastructure and other public works that are at the heart of the Schwarzeneggger investment strategy. Roughly one-fourth of the money would flow to L.A. County’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which would divvy it up according to its own priorities. In other words, get ready for some hissy-ass cat fights over Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s subway to the sea, Supervisor Yvonne Burke’s Expo Line extension, U.S. Representative David Dreier’s eastern extension of the Metro Gold Line into the San Gabriel Valley. And so on.

Love freeways? You’ll see more of them in California if Proposition 1B passes. In L.A. County, the MTA will be required to earmark at least $1 billion of the bond proceeds for rail. After that, all bets are off.

The measure would also dedicate around $3.2 billion in so-called “goods movement” — think 20-foot containers — at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Not coincidentally, Schwarzenegger recently vetoed a bill that would have required shipping lines — the ones getting rich off global trade — to pony up a $30 fee for every container that moves through the harbors. In other words, the governor shifted the cost of global trade from the shipping lines making a profit to the residents who are already suffering with the congestion caused by diesel congestion at the port — the largest single source of air pollution in the county. (DZ)

PROPOSITION 1C: HOUSING AND SHELTER

This $2.85 billion bond measure would provide shelters for battered women and their kids, along with housing for farm workers and low-income senior citizens, plus homeowner assistance for vets, the disabled and needy working families; it also funds apartment repairs and accessibility for families and people with handicaps. (Steven Mikulan)

PROPOSITION 1D: PUBLIC EDUCATION

Weird. Another school-bond measure. Don’t these come up all the time? Two years ago, we voted for Measure R, a $3.87 billion bond for L.A. Unified. On the same ballot, voters considered (and narrowly passed) a statewide bond, Proposition 55, that set California debt back $12.3 billion. This time, it’s a $10.5 billion bond, Prop. 1D, that will fund construction and modernization projects statewide. A good chunk of the money would go to California’s community colleges, a critical and sorely underfunded component of the state’s education infrastructure. Prop. 1D backers say the new measure is needed because Prop. 55 funds are months away from running out. (Daniel Hernandez)

PROPOSITION 1E: DISASTER PREPAREDNESS AND FLOOD PREVENTION BOND

It would have been nice if the state Legislature had had the cojones to pay up-front for this project to create flood-control systems and rebuild levees in the Sacramento and Central valleys — that way, the $4.09 billion bond measure wouldn’t top out at $8 billion 30 years from now. Still, the renovation of the state’s flood-prone riverbanks and deltas can’t wait. (Steven Mikulan)

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