The Argonaut’s Election Endorsements: California Assembly, Los Angeles County and Los Angeles City
Last week we made endorsements for federal offices and state ballot propositions. This week we’re considering a California Assembly race, Los Angeles County measures and candidates, and four Los Angeles city ballot measures. Santa Monica endorsements come next week.
62nd Assembly District
By a strange twist of fate, California Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D- Marina del Rey) finds herself in the only three-way race on the ballot. Normally only the top two finishers in the June primary would advance to the November runoff, but Burke’s challengers tied for second — with just 32 votes each.
Republican Tony Leal, a Westchester aviation mechanic who has not held public office, is a surrogate for Donald Trump with more interest in the presidential race than in local politics.
Libertarian Baron Bruno, a real estate agent who lives on the Marina Peninsula, has also not held public office, but he is more dynamic. Bruno describes himself as a “Libertarian 3.0” seeking pragmatic solutions — typically through public-private partnerships — to local problems such as homelessness, housing affordability, short-term rentals and high pollution levels at Mother’s Beach.
Bruno accuses Burke of not being present enough in the district, saying he would develop a legislative platform based on meetings with constituents. But that’s what Burke has already been doing through a series of what she calls “living room meetings.”
Burke has so far kept her campaign promises to bring funding back to the district for career technical education and stimulating employment in the environmental sector. Based on her living room meetings, Burke says she would focus the first year of her second term on resources to combat homelessness and mental health issues. We should give her the chance to do that.
Vote for Autumn Burke.
Los Angeles County Supervisor
Los Angeles County supervisors each represent about two million people within gerrymandered districts that don’t make much geographic sense. The Fourth District seat currently occupied by Supervisor Don Knabe, who terms out this year, includes not only Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey, but also far-off Whittier and Diamond Bar.
Congresswoman Janice Hahn (D- San Pedro), formerly a member of the Los Angeles City Council, has the experience and skill to handle such a big task and is good on issues of social services delivery, which is one of the primary responsibilities of the Board of Supervisors.
One of Knabe’s chief deputies and a former mayor of Manhattan Beach, Steve Napolitano’s political experience is more limited to government at the local level.
But that may be what’s needed most in the communities of this district that we serve.
Back in June we endorsed Napolitano, a Republican, as having a better working knowledge of — and being more likely to pay closer attention to — the unique challenges facing Marina del Rey, an unincorporated area governed directly by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.
If the communities we cover included a larger swath of the district, we might lean towards Hahn. But nothing in the past five months has prompted us to change our mind. Napolitano remains the candidate with stronger ties to the marina and is more likely to give hyper-local issues of development and quality of life the time and attention they deserve.
Vote for Steve Napolitano.
L.A. County Measure A
It’s unfortunate that money for public parks maintenance and open space preservation comes not from the general fund, but from county ballot measures. What’s even worse is that voters haven’t approved any new funding since the 1990s, and what money remains will be gone in less than three years.
New parks funding was on the ballot
in 2014, but we recommended against voting for the ill-fated Measure P because it failed to outline specific spending priorities.
Measure A is different. This time, county officials earmarked funds for specific projects — including upgrades to all Marina del Rey parks — based on a remarkably extensive public survey of current parks needs and future amenities that people would like to see. Funding would also go toward water quality improvement projects, which had received far too little attention the last time around.
There are many measures on the Nov. 8 ballot asking for your money, and at 1.5 cents per square foot of developed land per year, this parcel tax for parks isn’t cheap. But it’s a fair deal. And by making funding priorities more transparent, the county has been proactive about voters’ concerns. Now it’s our turn.
Vote Yes on Measure A.
L.A. County Measure M
There was a time when Westsiders could argue that public transportation wasn’t for them — not just that we didn’t want to use it, but that no one was building it here to give us the option. Then the Expo Line arrived in Santa Monica and construction began on a Green Line extension to Westchester.
For all that new light rail you can thank Measure R, the half-cent county sales tax increase approved by voters in 2008. Measure M would both succeed and amplify Measure R. This half-cent sales tax for the next 40 years would raise about $860 million per year for regional transportation improvements, including light rail and bus system expansion as well as freeway and local street repairs. It would also extend Measure R, set to expire in 2039, until voters repeal it.
If Measure M passes, that means taxpayers will have to fork over at least a penny for every dollar spent in L.A. County until 2057 for transportation improvements. That’s a lot of money, but consider the cost of not spending it.
At a regional level, rejecting Measure M means L.A.’s underdeveloped transit infrastructure continues to hamper community and economic development. On a personal level, a no vote means your daily commute continues to get worse.
Passing Measure M would address one of the top quality of life and public health issues in Greater Los Angeles by fixing broken streets, relieving highway congestion, and roughly doubling the size of our regional public transportation system, with new bike lanes also part of the mix.
When it comes to transportation, L.A. cannot afford to stop evolving.
Vote Yes on Measure M.
L.A. City Proposition HHH
There is no bigger problem in Los Angeles than homelessness. Period. The majority of L.A. County’s 47,000-plus homeless people are in the city of Los Angeles: nearly 30,000 of them. Outside the horrors of Skid Row, the human cost of failing to address epidemic homelessness is no more apparent than it is in and around Venice Beach. But this is a regional issue. From encampments in the Ballona Wetlands to people sleeping in their cars in Westchester, no Westside neighborhood — or resident, for that matter — remains untouched by this inexcusable human tragedy.
Passing Proposition HHH would authorize the city to borrow as much as $1.2 billion to create 10,000 units of housing for the homeless and those most at risk of homeless, all in just 10 years. To pay for it, property owners would be on the hook for a parcel tax of $9.64 per $100,000 of their property’s value per year for the next 29 years.
That’s a lot of money, but so is the $100-plus million that the city spends each year just to put a Band-Aid on the problem, including arrests for nuisance behavior and emergency mental health interventions.
Proposition HHH is an ambitious effort to get to the root cause of homelessness: a lack of affordable housing. Think of it as a do-or-die question: Do, because building more housing is the only way to start addressing the problem; die, because without new affordable housing more and more people will die on the street.
Vote Yes on Proposition HHH.
Los Angeles City Initiative Ordinance JJJ
JJJ is the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s preemptive strike against a 2017 ballot proposal to temporarily freeze and then permanently restrict construction of large residential buildings throughout Los Angeles.
In the midst of an affordable housing crisis, requiring apartment developers to set aside 25% of apartments and 40% of condos as affordable housing sounds pretty good. And a 30% local hiring requirement sounds like another step in the right economic direction.
But as LMU political science professor Fernando Guerra warns in this week’s news section, there can be too much of a good thing — namely that JJJ would backfire by shutting down a majority of housing production at a time when housing is needed more than ever, which would make building housing for the homeless nearly impossible.
As tempting as it is to vote yes and stick it to developers, we just don’t have enough information to tell us whether these numbers pencil out for everyone or, as most experts are saying, go so far that they’ll actually backfire and precipitate a deeper housing crisis.
Vote No on City Initiative Ordinance JJJ.
Los Angeles City Charter Amendment RRR
Voters want to reign in the excesses and abuses of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, a monster of a public utility that on paper answers to everyone but in practice answers to no one but themselves. RRR amends the city charter to increase oversight, though only to a small degree. But baby steps are better than nothing, so it’s safe to Vote Yes on Charter Amendment RRR.
Los Angeles City Charter Amendment SSS
Passing SSS would move LAPD, L.A. Airport Police and Port of Los Angeles Police into the same pension system. Taxpayers would be on the hook for slightly more money, and the unions representing police officers aren’t supportive of the idea because of seniority issues and other disagreements. The city must take action to reduce pension obligations, but this isn’t the way to go.
Vote No on Charter Amendment SSS.