Prop 1: $4 billion for affordable housing

There is no doubt that California needs a practical quick fix to its housing crisis and money helps, $4 billion to be exact. This bond initiative, to be paid back over 35 years at $170 million annually, will provide $1.5 billion for the low-income Multifamily Housing Program, $1 billion for loans to help veterans buy farms and homes, $450 million for infill and transit-oriented housing projects, $300 million for farmworker housing, and $300 million for manufactured and mobile homes. The legislative analyst estimated that it would help tens of thousands of people. This is all good news and great reasons to vote yes, but there is one caveat: Who will be providing oversight to ensure that taxpayers are getting the most bang and high quality for their buck? That is unclear and concerning, given it will be a $4 billion boon to the real estate industry. But we digress. California is in it too deep to keep delaying anything that resembles progress for the housing needs of the state’s poorest and neediest.

Vote Yes on Proposition 1.

Prop 2: $2 billion for mentally ill housing

When looking at the landscape of housing for the mentally ill, especially those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, it seems to be hitting critical mass. The proposition, however, appears to be simply solidifying that some of the money reserved for mental health services will go toward housing through the No Place Like Home program. The program itself will first need court approval before being funded; that will be settled after the election. The state will use $140 million per year of county mental health funds to repay up to $2 billion in bonds. The negatives? Paying too much and getting too little for the mentally ill. That is a risk that we are willing to take.

Vote Yes on Proposition 2.

Prop 3: $8.9 billion for water supply, conservancy projects

Proposition 3 would authorize $8.9 billion in general obligation bonds for multiple conservation and water purposes, a significant portion, $2.35 billion, dedicated to conservancies and state parks for restoration and protection of watersheds in conservancies and state parks.

Odd, then, that the Sierra Club opposes it, as do many other environmental advocacy groups. This is because the bond takes money from measures specifically designed to curb climate pollutants and wildfire risk and has the potential to fund dam projects, which have proven environmentally disastrous (see the film Damnation). Further, the measure offers no guidelines on how the money is to be spent. The funds will be appropriated by state agencies with little oversight.

California voters already passed an $8 billion water bond in 2014: Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act. Do we need another $8 billion bond ($17 billion after interest), sans oversight?

Vote No on Proposition 3.

Prop 4: $1.5 billion for construction for children’s hospitals

This particular bond initiative is targeted toward serving low-income families. While there are two other bonds initiatives that were passed and have funded certain children’s hospitals in the state, this funding appears set to play a role in ending the needless suffering of children already disadvantaged in California. It’s pretty hard to argue against it. The only concerns, again, are about oversight and disciplined spending.

Vote Yes on Proposition 4.

Prop 5: Unlimited property tax transfers for seniors

Pitched as a lifeline to homeowners over the age of 55 and to the disabled who may be on fixed incomes as assistance to overcome moving challenges, truthfully, the proposition has one segment of the population in mind: corporate real estate interests.

The law regarding property tax transfers already assists seniors, via an amendment to Prop 13. Seniors over 55 can transfer their property tax base to a home of equal or lesser value within certain counties, on a one-time basis. This proposition would allow anyone over the age of 55 to purchase homes of greater value and retain a lower property tax, anywhere in the state, as many times as they like, benefiting only those wealthy enough to move multiple times.

The original law was designed to assist those moving laterally or downsizing. If a senior’s home is worth $600,000 in 2018 but was $200,000 in 1998, a senior moving to a home of equal or lesser value would pay property taxes based on the 1998 assessment. Proposition 5 allows the wealthy to take advantage of this benefit. Imagine a homeowner, who purchased a home for $200,000, sold it for $600,000 and moved into a $2 million mansion paying taxes as if it were worth $200,000 in 1998.

Should it pass, Proposition 5 would amount to a massive tax break to the wealthiest Californians. Further, local city and county governments are set to lose $1 billion in annual revenue, impacting local services.

Vote no on Proposition 5.

Prop 6: Repeal of the gas tax

When Senate Bill 2 was passed in 2017, it became the painful answer to a long outstanding question: “Who will pay for our crumbling infrastructure?” The price of gas at the pump has since increased, so too the cost of vehicle registration.

Proponents of Prop 6 say that SB1 costs the average family an extra $780 annually. In 2015, the nonpartisan, nonprofit transportation research group TRIP released a study showing that due to the poor shape of many American roads, the average vehicle owner spends more than $1,000 annually on car maintenance. Consider wear and tear on tires, less fuel efficiency, maintenance on shocks and brakes when hitting pot holes and cracks. It may not be as visible as the electronic sign at the gas station, but it adds up regardless.

It’ll continue adding up, too, if SB1 is repealed. The Ventura County Transportation Commission released a report on Oct. 5 stating what the county has to lose for road maintenance and rehabilitation for 2018 and 2019, should Prop 6 pass: $2.1 million for Thousand Oaks; $3.4 million for Oxnard; $1.8 million for Ventura; $1.1 million for Camarillo; and over $10 million for the unincorporated areas of the county.
Overall, the county would lose over $120 million for road and street maintenance and repair and the Rice Avenue Bridge, a project launched to address what is known as one of the most dangerous crossings in the country, would lose $69 million in funding.

Vote no on Proposition 6.

Prop 7: Permanent daylight savings time

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, has been a firm opponent of Proposition 7, authoring the argument against for the Official Voter Information Guide. Jackson notes that should the state adopt permanent DST (which would require two-thirds vote in the legislature and federal approval, even if approved at the ballot box), “those of you who like to wake up with the sun will wake up in the dark” during the winter months, and she’s right. However, proponents argue that the constant changing of times between falling back and springing forward raises health risks (increasing stroke risk for some by up to 25 percent), not even mentioning the financial cost in usage of electricity and fuel.

Frankly, nothing will change should Prop 7 pass unless the legislature acts to change it and receives federal approval. Considering the current administration’s knack for saying “no” to all things California, the likelihood of saying bye-bye to time change soon is unlikely. That’s not to say, however, that the face of the federal government couldn’t change.

Prop 7 simply gives the legislature the option. Vote yes.

Prop 8: Regulating dialysis clinic charges

If you have seen the commercials opposing Prop 8, it would seem like anything but a no vote would be cruel. It is, however, a little disconcerting to see how much money has been spent to oppose it ($99 million) versus to support it ($18 million). It seems like a good idea to make health care less about profit and more about actual patient care and accessibility, but that is a massive issue impacting all Americans. We can only hope that there will be some breakthrough soon over health care costs but this isn’t the right initiative to do it.

Vote No on Prop 8.

Prop 10: Enacting rent control through local governments

There has certainly been a lot of fear-mongering over this particular bill, but as far as our research has shown, this proposition would simply give local governments the power to choose to approve local measures, giving them some leverage over skyrocketing rental rates, by repealing the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995. That doesn’t mean elected officials will act. Sure, property rights are extremely important but the problem is, millions of Californians are already struggling to survive because of the cost of housing and those who already have don’t want to be limited about how much more they can get from those who have little. The results of the Costa-Hawkins Act 23 years later: local City Councils enacting new laws and ordinances to address the increasing number of people sleeping on the street and in cars. Something has to give. Plus, developers need to work with elected officials to get their projects moving anyway and this gives local lawmakers the ability to apply pressure for the needy. If developers want to walk away, so be it. There will be others. There should be a symbiotic relationship between developers and City Council so new laws won’t have to be implemented but at least our elected officials won’t be at the mercy of whatever developers want to meet housing quotas.

Vote Yes on Prop 10.

Prop 11: Requiring private-sector EMTs, paramedics to remain on call during breaks

If food-related service workers are required to take breaks, then it seems only logical that high pressure, lower wage workers such as paramedics and EMTs should definitely be able to have meals and breaks in peace. This proposition, if enacted, says otherwise. Understandably, in an emergency, ambulances should be ready to go. But what is the benefit of having an overworked and tired EMT trying to provide medical care in a dire situation? We don’t see any. Besides, firefighters are already first to arrive on scene and there are plenty of better ways to coordinate emergency care than by forcing those who work in this high strung and chaotic profession to skip their breaks and mealtimes.

Vote No on Prop 11.

Prop 12: Requires size standards for pens of commercial ag animals

Proposition 2, passed in 2008, banned pregnant pigs, veal calves and egg-laying hens from being unable to stand up, turn around, lay down and extend their limbs in confinement. What it didn’t include, however, were size restrictions of said confinements. Prop 12 requires specific sizes for cages and enclosures for pigs, calves and hens, and by 2022, requires that egg-laying hens be “cage free” in indoor or outdoor systems.

The Humane Society says that Prop 12 will improve living conditions for farm animals and prevent extreme confinement. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says that the measure would further promote the hoax that is “ethical eggs.” When your ultimate goal is to end animal consumption all together, one can see how opinions would split.

Proposition 12 amounts to moral choice: Do you want to “feel good” about the food you eat by giving them one square foot to spread their wings (Massachusetts requires 1.5 square feet per hen). Or would you rather work toward moving consumers away from an industry that requires such regulations?

In that light, vote your conscious.