Measure GSH

City leaders are asking for a half-cent increase of Santa Monica’s retail transaction tax — similar to a sales tax, but collected from a retailer’s gross receipts — in order to replace revenue that disappeared when the state dissolved local redevelopment agencies during the recession. The tax hike would start in April 2017 and is expected to raise about $16 million per year.

How will the money be spent? That’s entirely up to the Santa Monica City Council, but backers have promised that proceeds will exclusively benefit city affordable housing programs as well as math, science and arts education in local public schools.

State, county and city ballot measures are asking for a lot of money this year — perhaps too much all at once. But GSH’s cause is worthy, and each two-year election cycle gives voters the opportunity to hold the council accountable for its spending. Vote Yes on GSH.

Measure GS

This is an advisory measure asking voters to emphasize that Measure GSH proceeds should only be used for education and affordable housing. Even if you oppose GSH, this is about communicating spending priorities. Vote Yes on GS.

Measure LV

Requiring a citywide popular vote to approve any new construction in Santa Monica that exceeds a height of 32 feet is not just absurd, it’s a threat to the very fabric of the city.

We believe the intentions of Measure LV author Armen Melkonians are good: He and his supporters want to preserve Santa Monica as a liveable seaside town by curtailing new high- and mid-rise construction. But the bar is just too low at 32 feet. That’s not slow growth, it’s no growth.

A no-growth situation would increase housing scarcity, decrease housing affordability, and unleash culturally stifling gentrification on an unprecedented scale.

What Santa Monica needs is smart growth — strategically placed high-density housing that takes the pressure off single-family neighborhoods.

City leaders already plan to concentrate future development near public transit hubs and in the downtown area, paving the way for the elimination of all downtown vehicle traffic in the foreseeable future. Now that’s a liveable city!

Measure LV would unravel such careful planning in favor of ballot box roulette. Vote No on LV.

Measure SM

Sixteen years ago, Santa Monica voters overwhelmingly passed the Oaks Initiative, which made it illegal for city officials to accept campaign money or other favors from developers, lobbyists and others who have benefitted from their decisions in office.

Measure SM would clarify and strengthen the law by making it illegal to grant such kickbacks to public officials, by increasing public disclosure requirements, and by finally implementing protocols for the city to enforce the law. Vote Yes on SM.

Measure V

Santa Monica College is asking voters to approve up to $345 million in general obligation bonds, paid for by taxing property owners about $25 per $100,000 of a property’s value per year for the next several decades.

That’s a lot of money, and skeptics want to know how SMC would spend it. Measure V answers the question with a lengthy list of projects, including some that would attract millions in matching state funds to maximize the bond’s impact.

These projects include building a new math and science extension, upgrading a pair of ancient classroom buildings, replacing run-down temporary classrooms rushed into service after the Northridge Earthquake, and expanding the Performing Arts Center. Spending would also expand Memorial Park to accommodate new public sports fields.

The measure expressly prohibits spending bond proceeds on administrative or faculty salaries.

Every voter should think long and hard about borrowing so much money all at once. The thought of it still makes us uneasy, but we believe the project list is one that would benefit Santa Monica for generations to come — a necessary investment in a world-class community college that deserves our support.
Vote Yes on V.