30 enthusiastic and thoughtful participants gathered for Fourth Friday’s election roundtable to crowdsource information and advice about the state and local ballot measures that are up for a vote in November. The purpose was not to endorse any particular measures, but rather to look beneath the surface at what motivated the presence of each measure on the ballot and what the likely result of passage would be.
Hopefully, the following notes accurately reflect the conversation!
State ballot measures
Ballotpedia has a summary of all the measures with links to details.
State bond measures
There are several bond measures on the ballot this year. We had some general discussion about bond financing, with questions raised about reliance on bond financing instead of having the legislature simply appropriate money where needed. The explanation was that the legislature appropriates money on a year-by-year basis, which doesn’t work for long-term capital-intensive financing.
Proposition 1 and Proposition 2 address affordable housing, with Proposition 2 specifically addressing the nexus between mental health and homelessness. We learned about the complicated layers of funding required for affordable housing and how these bond measures are an essential piece of a larger puzzle. Most people who shared their views were in support of these measures.
Proposition 3 is a bit more complicated. It provides additional funds for water infrastructure but is opposed by groups such as the Sierra Club as a giveaway to Big Agriculture that may divert funds from climate funds and elsewhere. Some participants wanted to learn more about the measure, but the general feeling was that it should be opposed.
Proposition 4 would provide additional funding for children’s hospitals. Sentiment in the group leaned towards support, though it was noted that money to finance the initiative has been provided by all the major children’s hospitals in the state.
Other state measures
Proposition 5 allows homeowners who are 55 and over or severely disabled to buy another house anywhere in California without having their tax basis recalculated for property tax purposes. Current law allows a one-time transfer of property tax basis homeowners 55 and older, with restrictions as to the counties where they can move and keep the benefit. Sentiment in the group was strongly against this proposition. The proposition places no limit on the number of times homeowners can get the benefit, so it could encourage house flipping, where people buy a house, add improvements, and then immediately sell at a higher price. It also could mean a significant reduction in property tax revenues for education and other services.
Proposition 6 would repeal the 2017 gas tax increase and make it much harder to impose future gas taxes for revenues and carbon reduction. The group expressed strong opposition.
Proposition 10 would make it easier for localities to implement rent stabilization by repealing the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. Currently, rent stabilization policies, such as Mountain Views do conform to Costa-Hawkins, but there are constraints that could be relaxed if this passes. Participants expressed support for this measure.
Support was also expressed for Proposition 12, which would improve conditions for animals intended for food consumption.
Participants expressed opposition to Proposition 8 (dialysis clinics) and Proposition 11 (ambulance workers). Proposition 8 came across as a piecemeal proposal that is not best addressed by a proposition, while Proposition 11 came across as a giveaway to ambulance companies.
It was noted that Proposition 7 for year-round daylight savings time would have an effect only if the federal government allows the change AND the California legislative enacts it.
We also discussed the local measures on the ballot in Palo Alto and Mountain View.
Measure E would raise the hotel tax (transient occupancy tax) by 1.5% to help with general municipal funding. Raising the hotel tax to fund city services is often a popular thing to do because it doesn’t directly hit the pocketbooks of local residents.
There was no consensus on this measure, but it was noted that it would enable or continue projects that for which costs have increased since funding was last approved (the group wasn’t sure what specific projects would be involved). And people wondered if the tax would apply to Air BNB rentals. According to my reading of the official resolution, it would (see section 2.33.010 of the resolution).
Measure F would get Palo Alto into the business of regulating health care costs. The consensus was that while keeping health care costs in line is highly desirable, it’s not an issue that can effectively or should be addressed at the municipal level.
Measure P would be a change to the business license tax. The new structure would be highly graduated with little change for small business but much higher rates paid by large businesses such as Google. The goal is to help improve transportation for the new developments that are planned north of Shoreline (on the Bay side of 101). Participants were in favor of this measure.
Measure Q is part of the city’s preparation for local retail cannabis sales, ensuring that a tax will be in place before any retail operations are opened. It would levy a 9% tax on gross receipts, which is in the range of rates that are already authorized by other local governments. Participants noted that this would not establish or enable any cannabis businesses, just garner revenue from ones that are established. Participants expressed support for this proposal.
There are lots of places to look for more information on the November ballot. Here are just a few. If you have information you’d like to share, please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If your information is appropriate and helpful, we’ll add it to this post. Please remember, though that Transition Palo Altos is a non-partisan organization.
Indivisible CA Ballot Propositions Voter Guide. This is the guide that was passed out during the roundtable, prepared by the non-partisan Indivisible resistance group.
League of Women Voters. This page has links to various resources, including their ballot proposition pros and cons.
Ballotpedia very comprehensive place to go for almost all ballot information.
Sierra Club. This page has their statewide endorsements.