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Voters' Guide

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)

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)

PROPOSITION 83: SEX OFFENDERS

Sexual predators on TV cop shows are neatly dispatched by gunfire or rooftop falls. In real life, they do time and are released into anxious communities. This ballot initiative would expand both the definition of sexual misconduct and the penalties for it. More important, it would forbid registered sex offenders to live within 2,000 feet of any school or park, and require them to wear Global Positioning System bracelets for the rest of their lives. The initiative betrays both a blind faith in the use of technology and pre-emptive punishment to control aberrant behavior, and in the NIMBY impulse to wish away undesirables into a phantom gulag of nomadic Americans. (SM)

PROPOSITION 84: WATER QUALITY

It has no organized opposition. The speaker of the California Assembly, Fabian Núñez, has traveled the state stumping for it. And twice, in previous election years, bond measures just like it — written to fund clean-water and coastal-protection projects — have floated to success with little to buoy them but voter-feel-good buzzwords like beaches and parks. Prop. 84, however, may not have it so easy. Written by Sacramento lobbyists Joe Caves and Leslie Friedman Johnson, the $5.4 billion water-quality, parks and flood-control bond measure has aroused the suspicion of tax opponents, who see it as a ploy to fund the groups Caves and Friedman Johnson represent, such as the Audubon Society and the Nature Conservancy. And while it’s possible to think of less-worthy beneficiaries than the nonprofits that fight to preserve open space and habitat, Prop. 84’s anti-tax foes may not be alone: The measure has been polling below expectations for the last two months.

“Once Prop. 84 passes,” said Núñez, “we’ve got to see to it that the environmental community realizes that the urban areas cannot be ignored. The environmental community has come a long way toward sensitivity toward urban environments, but it still has a long way to go.” (Judith Lewis)

PROPOSITION 85: ABORTION WAITING PERIOD AND PARENTAL NOTIFICATION

What’s the point? Proposition 85’s twin, last year’s Proposition 73, lost by a decisive six points; still, the pushers of parental consent for abortion, San Diego Reader publisher James Holman and his swill-selling buddy Don Sebastiani, still have unhappily pregnant teenagers in their gun sights. (JL)

PROPOSITION 86: CIGARETTE TAX

This would impose a $2.60-per-pack tax on cigarettes sold in California, bringing up the cost for a pack of smokes from around $4 to around $7 a pack, as of January 1. If you smoke, vote no. Otherwise, do the right thing. (Christine Pelisek)

PROPOSITION 87: OIL TAX

The problem: The U.S. consumes 22 million barrels of oil per day, 60 percent of which is imported, often from dangerous places. The habit is expensive, dirty, politically destabilizing, and may soon make the planet uninhabitable. Everyone, from the greenest Friends of the Earth hippie to the neo-neocons like James Woolsey who rightly see fuel efficiency as a national-security imperative, wants to change this. Everyone, that is, except the oil companies. That’s why they’ve raised $90 million to defeat Proposition 87, by far the most money ever spent against a ballot measure. If you haven’t heard yet, Proposition 87 hopes to make a dent in California’s energy woes by directing money to energy-efficient-technology research. Chevron estimates Proposition 87 would cost it $200 million annually. Great! Maybe that extraction fee will even out the $5 million daily that Chevron extracted from California consumers by overcharging us 50 cents per gallon this summer, ka-chinging its way to its own record $5 billion quarterly profit. (JL)

PROPOSITION 88: EDUCATION FUNDING

This would establish a $50 tax on parcels of property for K-12 public schools. The tax would raise $450 million annually for specific educational purposes, like textbooks, reducing class size, textbook purchases and school safety. (Elderly and disabled homeowners are exempted from the tax.) Supporters say Prop. 88 will give the state a new revenue source, while opponents argue it will open the door to unlimited parcel tax increases without assuring that the funds would go to local schools. (CP)

PROPOSITION 89: CAMPAIGN FINANCE

Prop. 89 would bring to California the same sort of system already present in Arizona, Maine and a few other states in which candidates who forgo private funding receive full public financing. It’s absolutely the right way to open up and reform the political process. And while Clean Money programs are not perfect, they go a very long way toward enhancing democracy and curbing institutionalized bribery. (Marc Cooper)

PROPOSITION 90: EMINENT DOMAIN

Backed by a New York businessman and property-rights activists, this measure would put stricter limits on eminent domain by preventing governments from grabbing your land unless it is put to a government use. Prop. 90 is essentially a reaction to the Supreme Court ruling last year that granted local governments the right to take your home or business and give it to a private developer.

Might sound good on the surface, but opponents say the measure would require state and local government to compensate property owners after the passage of any law — including run-of-the-mill zoning ordinances — that results in a substantial economic loss for property owners. In other words, Prop. 90 is a lawsuit bonanza, with virtually anyone suing over any new law. (CP)


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