A Big Night for Down-Ballot Contests

Posted November 9, 2016 by The Argonaut in News

Local voters say yes to taxes for mass transit, parks, schools and affordable housing

By Gary Walker, Phoenix Tso and Joe Piasecki

Clinton supporters share their grief in her loss Photo by Ted Soqui

Clinton supporters share their grief in her loss
Photo by Ted Soqui

As 1.6 million Hillary Clinton voters in Los Angeles County watched in varying levels of shock as Donald Trump unexpectedly cruised to the presidency, other important Election Night stories played out a lot closer to home.

The L.A. area and California as a whole voted decisively — in some cases overwhelmingly — to legalize recreational marijuana, increase taxes on the wealthy, reform  criminal sentencing, restore bilingual education, and approve billions of dollars in new spending on public education facilities, public parks, mass transit and housing for the homeless.

The Left Coast, it seemed, inched even further away from the Heartland.

During a boisterous rally in Downtown Los Angeles, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Westside ally City Councilman Mike Bonin celebrated the strong passage of tax measures in support of mass transit expansion and affordable housing construction.

Garcetti invested a great deal of his political capital in county Measure M, a half-cent sales tax increase expected to raise $860 million a year for mass transit over the next four decades.

“This was an amazing, historical mission,” the mayor told a crowd of supporters who gathered for a celebration at the Farmers and Merchants Bank building. “The one thing that unites us is that we’re getting the job done in Los Angeles on mass transit.”

Bonin, who along with Garcetti is up for re-election in March, praised the overwhelming 76% voter support for L.A. city Proposition HHH — a parcel tax assessment funding a $1.2-billion general obligation bond that over just 10 years promises to create 10,000 units of permanent housing for the homeless and those at greatest risk of becoming homeless.

“People in Los Angeles have responded to the idea that we need to solve problems locally and are willing to invest in that,” Bonin said. “This is absolutely foundational to our efforts to get people off the streets and into housing. … I think when we really dig down into the numbers next week, we’re going to see huge numbers in favor of HHH on the Westside.”

While casting ballots at the Playa Vista Library on Tuesday, 34-year-old Ellen Smith mentioned homeless housing and 40-year-old Natasha Gatlin highlighted public transportation as key issues outside the presidential contest that brought them out to the polls.

“That was a big one for me … anything they can do to improve public transportation,” Gatlin said.

Meanwhile, voters in Santa Monica approved local campaign finance reform, a massive community college bond and a retail tax hike but rejected a populist local initiative that would have required just about every major development project in the city to go before voter approval.

Measure LV, authored by Santa Monica City Council candidate Armen Melkonians, won 43.8% voter support despite opposition by most of the city’s political establishment. Melkonians finished fifth in the at large council contest, trailing each of the four incumbents who retained their seats.

During a No on Measure LV party at The Victorian night club on Main Street, council incumbent Terry O’Day — the council race’s top vote-getter — said divisiveness over LV leaves more work to do.

“It becomes clear to all that we need to become engaged in planning issues at a deeper level,” O’Day said.

“Regardless of outcome, we need to strengthen communication and find a way to work together to address problems in Santa Monica,” added Councilwoman Gleam Davis, who also won reelection.

Voters casting ballots at the Church in Ocean Park went both ways.

Lalida Nakatani, an architect who has lived in Santa Monica for 18 years and voted against LV, said most residents fail to take advantage of an already inclusive city approvals process.

“We have a say in it already,” said Nakatani, also concerned that putting the brakes on growth would exacerbate housing scarcity and price families out of the area.

Tech firms have created a growth-oriented local economy in Santa Monica, “but what about people who have lived here their entire lives? It would be nice for voters to get involved if it’s a big project,” said David Leifer, who voted for Measure LV. “Change is good, but sometimes you lose with it.”

Christina Campodonico contributed to this story.

(Click here for more election results)




    I expect that our democratic institutions will be placed under great stress during the new presidency. May they be durable and resilient enough to preserve our republic.

    Linda Lucks

    I feel like Moses (sister Miriam) who could not enter the promised land because his generation had been slaves and the that mentality had to die off before the Hebrews not born slaves could enter. As a woman, I was hoping to see a woman president elected in my lifetime. Alas, it may be up to my daughter and granddaughters to experience the end of sexism as my generation has experienced it.

    Although our City had only one woman on the 15 member Council members , I’m so happy 4 of the 5 county Supervisors and 2 US Senators represent our California bubble.

    On a much happier note, seeing marijuana legalized in my time Is a longtime dream come true. Too many innocents have been incarcerated unfairly for too long.

    I’m thrilled that LA voters agreed to bite the bullet and fund Prop HHH to address the catastrophe of homelessness in our City. Prop. M’s passing is crucial to our City catching up with other metro areas in creating a viable transportation system.


      Gabriel Martinez

      I totally disagree with you that legalizing marijuana will keep more people out of prisons. First of all, marijuana was legalized because people wanted to smoke it to get high. That was the main purpose. Now people will be allowed to grow up to 6 plants. Now imagine children somehow coming into contact with these plants. There is also strong research which has proved that marijuana is linked to schizophrenia. It is also not really useful medicinally as first researched. These are the latest findings on Marijuana research. As far as homeless housing is concerned. How can it be that the BID was approved recently which will undermine the efforts of getting these homeless people housing in Venice? On Venice Update recently there is a large group bashing on the homeless and wish them good riddance thanks to the BID. I want homeless housing in Venice also, but with this BID in place I fear the homeless are going to be criminalized. I think for the first time in our BID history there needs to be a revolt against it. If we truly are a democracy then we need to stop criminalizing the homeless just for being homeless and put politicians in orange jump suits.

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