Preface to Propositions
There are 14 propositions and other such measures on the Claremont ballot for the November election. 12 are state propositions, one is from the Citrus College district and one from Los Angeles County.
For each of those there are 4 parts to what follows.
- there is a general account of what the particular measure is all about. Those general accounts are taken from CalMatters – they are a little on the jaunty side but do present useful information.
- there is a notice of what position is taken by 4 different organizations: the League of Women Voters, the Los Angeles Times, the California Democratic Party and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party.
- there is a DCC analysis of the measure which serves as an explanation and justification of our recommendation.
- there is the recommendation itself.
Measure Y: Citrus Community College District Bond
Measure Y, the Citrus College Career Education, Repair, Affordable Higher Education Measure, is a $298 million General Obligation Bond measure, to retain well-qualified teachers and improve the quality of education at Citrus College by:
- upgrading job training, science, technology classrooms and laboratories;
- meeting earthquake, fire, clean drinking water safety;
- providing resources for students/veterans preparing for university transfer/jobs;
- and, removing leaky roofs, mold, and lead paint.
Measure Y is called under constitutional and statutory provisions that require fifty-five percent (55%) voter approval, and certain accountability requirements, including annual independent financial and performance audits of how funds are spent, and the formation of an independent Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee. If approved by voters, the facilities improvements to be funded by Measure Y were identified following an 18-month process where college stakeholders and Facilities and Administrative Services staff, along with a team of external consultants, assessed the facilities needs of the college, resulting in a culmination of recommendations identified in the comprehensive 2020-2030 Educational and Facilities Master Plan.
DCC: Claremont is the eastern outpost of the Citrus Community College District. Nonetheless, Claremont residents enroll there in good numbers. For the last 7 years, between 423 and 535 Claremonters have been enrolled in all programs there per year. The number of CHS graduates who choose to study at Citrus range from 111 to 152 for the past 7 years. Claremont has its own trustee on the Board enabling us to have a voice in the college operations.
The last bond measure for the college was back in 2004. That is a long time ago. The school is deserving of our support of the called for improvements.
Vote YES on Measure Y
Prop. 14: Borrowing for stem cell research
Who put it there: Signatures via an effort mostly funded by Robert Klein, JDRF International and Open Philanthropy
What it would do: Borrow $5.5 billion to fund stem cell research
In 2004, voters passed Proposition 71 to create the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The institute exists to channel state money toward stem cell research. Prop 71 also let the state borrow $3 billion to do that.
That pot of cash is now almost empty.
Support: LACDP, CADEM,
Neutral: LWV, LAT
DCC: Quite a few years ago now, California voters decided to provide financial support for stem cell research (undertaken in the state). The project was approved both for humanitarian reasons and also for projected economic benefits to come to the state. The initial money has now been spent and a larger sum asked for in this proposition. Unfortunately, it is not known whether the research project has gone well and whether any economic benefits are either in existence or on the horizon. The support for Prop 14 is being presented in the form of warm fuzzies without any analysis of whether citizens of California should continue to provide continuing funding. Without that evidence, it is impossible to give a positive or negative recommendation on this measure. If evidence turns up, the recommendation can change.
Prop. 15: Split roll
Who put it there: Citizens. Campaign largely funded by the California Teachers Association, SEIU California and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
Type: Constitutional amendment
What it would do: Tax some commercial property based on its market value, rather than the price at which it was purchased. This would raise property taxes on many large businesses across the state, increasing funding for schools and local government.
In 1978, California voters passed Proposition 13, placing a cap on property taxes, kicking off a nationwide anti-tax revolt and placing city and county budgets in a generation-spanning straitjacket.
By tying a landlord’s property tax payments to the original purchase price, Prop. 13 has been the gift that keeps on giving to property owners, particularly those lucky enough to have bought cheap real estate decades ago. There’s been bipartisan reluctance among lawmakers to touch it ever since, lest they incur the wrath of irate homeowners.
This initiative attempts to divide and conquer that political problem by repealing the property tax protections only for commercial landlords with more than $3 million in holdings. If this measure passes, those landowners would have to make tax payments based on the current value of their properties — a tax hike for most — resulting in an estimated $6.5 to $11.5 billion more for cities, counties and school districts.
Support: LWV, LAT, CADEM, LACDP
In 1978, California homeowners became panic stricken as the idea went round that property taxes would continue rising until many could no longer afford them and if unpaid they would lose their homes. Into that situation stepped an anti-government ideologe, Howard Jarvis. Jarvis saw the plight of homeowners as an opportunity to help shrink government by denying it the funds needed to create social welfare programs. Thus, came the first half of what became Proposition 13, a severe restriction on the ability of government to tax residential property. However, Jarvis also saw the chance for even bigger game. If the same restrictions could be placed on commercial property, not only would his anti-government campaign score an even more significant success but he would be a hero to large businesses. So, came the second part of Prop 13: commercial property also would not be taxed at market value but at the price of its last purchase.
California voters, worried about the effects of rising property taxes on their homes, bit the Jarvis poison pill. The campaign for Prop 13 focused on residential property which formed the official justification for its passage – the bitter pill was ignored by the panicked public and Prop 13 passed and has been the law in California since.
The outcome has been that two identical houses, side by side, may have hugely different property taxes if one has not sold since say 1980 and the other in say 2019. And as businesses are very adept at finding ways around the law, various strategies have been worked out so that so even if the ownership of the business changes hands, its property does not and the value at which it is taxed remains what it was ever so long ago. Disneyland property, for instance, has grown in value greatly since 1978 but it pays little more in property taxes today than it did in 1978.
DCC Recommendation: Proposition 15 is a major opportunity to eliminate the poison pill Jarvis put into Prop 13. It leaves the Proposition 13 provisions for the taxation of residential property completely unchanged but returns large commercial property to the assessment system Jarvis wrote out of California law 40 years ago. Property taxes on property owned by businesses with over $3 million in holdings would be taxed at current market value.
California has not had available billions of dollars over 40 years to make our state better and more just.
The Jarvis political heirs are busy trying to defeat 15 and have as their weapon only lies. Their entire campaign is based on trying to make voters believe that 15 has to do with residential property when in fact it does not.
For the good of California (which is the only state not to have a split roll), Proposition 15, which is a well-crafted piece of legislation, must be passed.
VOTE FOR 15! WORK FOR IT!
Prop. 16: Ending the ban on affirmative action
Who put it there: The Legislature, via a bill by San Diego Democrat Assemblymember Shirley Weber
Type: Constitutional amendment
What it would do: Allow public agencies and schools to take race and other immutable characteristics into account when making admission, hiring or contracting decisions.
In 1996 California voters passed Proposition 209, a constitutional amendment banning affirmative action at state institutions. The result was an immediate drop in Black and Latino enrollment at the state’s elite public universities. Some civil rights organizations have been trying to repeal Prop. 209 ever since.
Each of those attempts has been stymied by a coalition of Republicans, moderate Democrats and some progressive legislators who represent districts with large Asian American voting populations. This year, as in previous years, some of the most vocal and persistent opponents of the effort to reintroduce affirmative action have been Chinese-American political activists. They argue that boosting enrollment of students from underrepresented racial groups would come at the expense of “overrepresented” Asian American students.
Support: LWV, CADEM, LACDP, LAT
DCC: the chief objection to Prop 16 is the same argument that was used in support of Prop 209: that affirmative action is a violation of our commitment to equal treatment.
It does no such thing: in fact, Proposition 16 is a way of expressing our commitment to equality, to the principle of equality. Affirmative action, as permitted under Prop 16, is a solution to historical inequalities. People who have not been able to participate equally because of race or gender, are being given a leg up until such time as equality is roughly achieved.
To insist, as critics of Prop 16 and affirmative action do, that they are the defenders of equality, is totally misleading. To oppose affirmative action as proposed under Prop 16 is to ignore the plain historical facts about structural inequality and is an attempt to maintain a position of privilege for those who have been favored by long-standing arrangements.
Note: though the discussions have been and will be carried on as if 16 is about universities and colleges, the fact is that Prop 16 is an attempt to level the playing field for all public agencies. A state contract for, say, janitorial services, is as much subject to Prop 16 as is admission to UC.
VOTE YES on 16
Prop. 17: Restoring the right to vote to people on parole
Who put it there: The Legislature, via a bill by Sacramento Democrat Assemblymember Kevin McCarty.
Type: Constitutional amendment
What it would do: Allow Californians who are currently on parole to vote.
In 1974, California voters passed a ballot measure giving people who have committed felonies the right to vote once they complete their sentences and are no longer on parole.
Thanks to that law, there are some 40,000 Californians who are not in prison but unable to legally cast a ballot. But as with any criminal justice debate, this is also one about race. According to an estimate from 2016, two thirds of people on parole in the state are Latino or Black.
Support: LWV, LAT, CADEM, LACDP
DCC: In not allowing convicted felons to vote, we were imposing on them an additional life-time punishment that was not part of their sentence for the particular crime they committed. In California that additional punishment was removed in 1974. However, that measure continued the practice of prohibiting voting to those who had not yet completed a period of parole. Prop 17 would draw a line between those convicted felons who are still serving a sentence and those who have completed their sentence but are parolees, by allowing the latter to vote. Prop 17 can best be seen as part of the continuing effort to extend our democracy. There is no obvious reason why those who have completed their sentences but are on parole should not be allowed back into the community by extending to them the right to vote.
Vote Yes on 17
Prop. 18: Letting (some) 17 year-olds vote (some of the time)
Who put it there: The Legislature, with a bill introduced by San Mateo Democrat Assemblymember Kevin Mullin.
Type: Constitutional amendment
What it would do: Allow 17-year-old U.S. citizens to vote in (California) primaries and special elections as long as they will turn 18 by the subsequent general election.
California Democrats have been on a decade-long tear increasing voting access. Same-day voter registration, automatic registration at the DMV and pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds are among the recent pro-vote innovations to come out of the Capitol.
Letting people under 18 vote would be yet another extension. Already 23 states let 17- year-olds vote in certain circumstances.
Support: LWV, CADEM, LACDP, LAT
DCC: This is another piece of the movement toward improving democratic practices and increasing participation in them. Since primaries are the method by which candidates get onto the general election ballot, it makes perfectly good sense to have those who will be voting in the general election to have a say on who they will be voting for in the later election. The young voter will not magically become capable of mature voting (would that be the case for older voters!) in a few months’ time so that argument for not adopting this proposal is useless.
Vote Yes on 18
Prop. 19: Property tax breaks
Who put it there: The Legislature, via a bill by San Mateo Democrat Assemblymember Kevin Mullin, but sponsored by the California Realtors.
Type: Constitutional amendment
What it would do: Allow homeowners who are over 55, disabled or victims of natural disaster to take a portion of their property tax base with them when they sell their home and buy a new one. It would also limit the ability of new homeowners who inherit properties to keep their parents’ or grandparents’ low property tax payments. Most of the additional money raised would go into a state fire response fund.
We’ve seen this one before — half of it, anyway. In 2018, the California Association of Realtors put a measure on the ballot allowing older or disabled homeowners to keep a portion of their Prop. 13 tax break. The Realtors argued that the current property tax rules disincentivize longtime homeowners from moving, “trapping” empty-nesters in houses that are too big for them and locking out new families. But because the measure would cost schools, counties and cities, it was opposed by organized labor and local government groups — and failed by 20 points.
The Realtors tried again this year, but with an added fiscal sweetener. Under this proposal, anyone who inherits a home from their parents or grandparents would only be allowed to keep the low property taxes if they use the home as their primary residence and only on the first $1 million between the home’s original purchase price and its market value. Inspiration for that caveat may have come from the Los Angeles Times, which tracked down a number of California scions, including “The Big Lebowski” star Jeff Bridges, who are still paying 1970-era property tax levels on their rental properties.
And then there was a last-minute wrinkle. In the final weeks of June, the Realtors sprang a deal: designating that most of the funding generated by the measure would go to fighting wildfires. That won the support of the influential California Professional Firefighters union. It also means the measure will be funding a public need that might be on many voters’ minds come November.
That bargain was struck after the Realtors had submitted their signatures, so with the help of Assemblyman Mullin, they passed it through the Legislature, pulling their original proposal just before the deadline.
Support: CADEM, LACDP
Oppose: LWV, LAT
DCC: Since Proposition 15 is being recommended here (see above), this proposition should be opposed. It is a way of giving favors to people, enabling property to escape market value assessment, when ownership of the property changes. Those who are favored by the proposition have not been shown to be those in need of financial assistance and, given our housing crisis, it does nothing to solve those problems. A couple of sweeteners have been tossed in, but they are only to attract voters to support an unneeded exemption from the rules.
Vote No on 19
Prop. 20: Criminal Sentencing and Parole
Who put it there: Signatures, via a campaign largely funded by law enforcement agencies.
Type: Constitutional amendment
What it would do: Allow prosecutors to charge repeat or organized petty theft as a felony, require probation officers to seek tougher penalties for those who violate the term of their parole three times, and exclude those who have been convicted of domestic violence and certain nonviolent crimes from early parole consideration.
Gov. Jerry Brown was famously allergic to talk of his “legacy” while in office. But if the former governor has one, it might be the effort he spent in his final two terms as governor supporting efforts to reverse the “tough on crime” policies he helped introduce during his first two terms in the 1970s and ‘80s.
In 2011, California legislators reduced punishments for parole violators. In 2014, voters passed Proposition 47, recategorizing some non-violent crimes as misdemeanors. In 2016, voters passed Proposition 57, giving inmates convicted of certain non-violent offenses a shot at early release. This ballot measure would partially undo each of those.
Oppose: LWV, CADEM, LACDP
DCC: Law enforcement agencies were opposed to Propositions 47 and 57 before they were passed by voters and have been trying to undo them ever since. In developing Propositions 20, they are not acting out of good will in trying to improve the difficulties produced by 47 and 57. Rather this is a stage of their campaign to make those advances in criminal justice toothless. They want people in jail – this proposition is intended to increase jail occupancy. It increases difficulty in achieving parole. It is a tough on crime bill that rolls back our progress in reforming the criminal justice system
VOTE NO on 20
Prop. 21: Rent Control
Who put it on the ballot: Signatures, collected via an effort mostly funded by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
What it would do: Allow cities to introduce new rent control laws, or expand existing ones.
Despite a 20-percentage point, 56-out-of-58 county defeat in 2018, a statewide rent control measure is back on the ballot.
Polling from that election season suggested that California voters generally liked rent control as a concept, but worried about the specifics of the proposal. Accordingly, this new initiative makes a few tweaks.
Under this one, cities would be allowed to apply new rent control ordinances only to homes that are at least 15 years old. And it exempts single-family homes owned by landlords with no more than two properties.
Just like last time, the measure is being pushed by the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation and its president Michael Weinstein. State lawmakers — by passing a law last year that set a ceiling of roughly 7% on how much landlords can raise rents each year — had hoped to ward off another attempt by Weinstein and company. They had no such luck.
Oppose: LAT, CADEM, LACDP
DCC: California’s housing crisis has become worse, with the pandemic throwing more people out of work with less consequent ability to pay their rent. Of course, there are problems with rent control – it is not a long-term solution to the housing situation. But a rent control measure such as this does stabilize the effects of our housing shortage for those people who do rent, giving us a chance to make progress on a long-term solution without putting the burden on the victims of the shrinking economy.
Vote: YES on 21
Prop. 22: Self-employment for ride-hail and other app-drivers
Who put it there: Signatures, via a campaign mostly funded by Lyft, Uber and Doordash
What it would do: Turn “app-based” drivers into independent contractors, exempting companies such as Lyft and Uber from standard wage and hour restrictions. It would also guarantee these drivers an earnings floor, a stipend to purchase health insurance and other minimum benefits.
Unless you happen to be an anti-vaccine protestor, the most controversial law of the 2019 legislative session was Assembly Bill 5. On its face, the law simply codified a state Supreme Court ruling, making it much harder for companies to treat their workers as independent contractors, rather than full-fledged employees. In practice, it upended the business models of Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Postmates and Instacart, all of which rely on an army of phone-toting gig-workers to provide their various services.
In the months since, all attempts at legislative compromise have fizzled, California’s Attorney General has sued Uber and Lyft for violating the new law and California regulators declared their drivers to be employees.
As a last-ditch effort, the various companies implicated have poured $110 million — and counting — to push a ballot measure that would simply exclude their drivers from the law. And throwing a bone to critics who say their drivers are mistreated, the measure also imposes some worker benefits and protections.
Oppose: CADEM, LACDP, LAT
DCC: AB 5 was written without enough consideration to the kinds of employment found in the gig economy and thus has many shortcomings. It was directed at companies such as Uber and Lyft whose very business models require that their drivers be treated as independent contractors and not employees and thus not eligible for workers’ rights. It was the recognition that the companies intentionally had to short-change their drivers in order to be profitable that drove AB 5. Proposition 20 does not address itself to the larger class of injustices AB 5 committed: it has to do only with drivers and is completely sponsored by those companies. Will the companies, who do provide a service liked by people, go out of business if Proposition 20 does not pass? Such threats occur frequently – it is impossible to know what the outcome will be. But what is clear is that the relevant companies want to rest their businesses on people who deserve more.
Vote: NO on 22
Prop. 23: Regulating dialysis clinics
Who put it there: Signatures, via an effort funded entirely by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West
What it would do: Require dialysis clinics to have at least one physician on site at all times and to report patient infection data to California health officials.
DaVita Kidney Care and Fresenius Medical Care own the majority of the for-profit dialysis clinics in the state. For years, the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers union has been at war with them.
After unsuccessful efforts to unionize clinic staff, the union sponsored legislation to cap reimbursement rates to clinics and floated an array of possible ballot measures to boost their staff spending and cut their profits. In 2018, the union finally got one on the ballot: Prop 8, which would have set a cap on clinic profit margins.
The measure was soundly defeated, but only after the two companies spent over $111 million, making it the most expensive ballot campaign ever. This one isn’t likely to be much cheaper.
Support: CADEM, LACDP
DCC: The long running battle between the SEIU and dialysis clinics continues with another ballot measure. This one has two features: that a physician be on hand for all operations and that everyone pays the same whether by private insurer or by Medicare/Medi-Cal. Federal law at present requires that a licensed physician be affiliated with each clinic and be responsible for medical oversight – it is not clear to outsiders whether having one on hand is a significant improvement in care (as the SEIU claims) or is merely a way of requiring more expenses (as the clinics claim). Further some recent California law provides some regulation of insurer payments.
In short, it isn’t clear what the gains and losses are from this proposition – and the uncertainty is sufficient that the question of why voters are being asked to decide these issues must arise.
Prop. 24: Stronger consumer privacy laws
Who put it there: Signatures, via a campaign funded entirely by Alastair and Celine Mactaggart.
What it would do: Strengthen California’s already strongest-in-the-nation consumer privacy law and establish a California Privacy Protection Agency
In 2018, California lawmakers passed the California Consumer Privacy Act, giving consumers the right to find out what data companies are collecting about them, to opt out of having it collected and to have that data scrubbed. It was — and remains — the only law like it in the county. It was also a compromise. San Francisco real estate developer Alastair MacTaggart had been pushing for an even stricter ballot measure, but the Legislature stepped in, brokering a deal between MacTaggart and the tech industry.
Now MacTaggart is back. Along with setting up a state agency tasked with enforcing state privacy law, the measure would beef up financial penalties for violators and allow consumers to demand that personal information not be shared at all, rather than simply not sold.
Neutral: CADEM, LACDP
DCC; As can be seen from above there is a difference of opinion on this one. Further “The measure is supported by a broad array of privacy experts, but it’s opposed by several well-respected privacy and civil liberties organizations…. Two major privacy advocates, Consumer Reports and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have declared their neutrality, praising some aspects of the initiative and criticizing others.”
In fact, many of those organizations, other than internet companies, that oppose 24 object to it because it doesn’t go far enough! And they think that it blocks further legislative action to get even stronger privacy protections.
While Californians want a strong privacy protection firewall and so voted for it in 2018, companies (of course!) find ways to get around provisions – as a result it was not the last word. No doubt this attempt to go even further is not the last word, given the ability of companies to find ways to evade their civic responsibilities in order to produce profits. However, it does seem that this act, as complex as it is, on the whole advances our interest in strong personal privacy.
Vote Yes (tentatively)
Prop. 25: Ditch or keep cash bail
Who put it there: Signatures, via a campaign largely funded by the bail bond industry.
What it would do: Ask voters to either approve or strike down a state law that banished money bail from the state criminal justice system.
In 2018, acting on the advice of state Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, legislators passed a bill ending cash bail in California. Rather than letting people pay their way out of jail while they await trial, the law gives judges the right to determine whether someone who is arrested should be kept behind bars based on the risk they are deemed to pose to themselves or others.
Moving quickly, the bail bond industry mounted a campaign to put the question on the ballot as a referendum. Voters will vote either “Yes” to keep the state law and end cash bail for good, making California the first state to do so, or “No” to keep the bail system.
Support: LWV, CADEM, LACDP, LAT
DCC: For progressives this is a no-brainer. This is an attempt to overturn a California law that leaves the question of whether bail is to be required up a judge: who must decide on the basis of risk. The reason for the law: the usual bail system decides who serves pre-trial time in jail by allowing those who can afford it, to be free; those who cannot afford it, must remain in jail prior to a trial. That privileges money, wealth and is a burden on those who don’t have enough. Progressives oppose making money central to justice. Hence the existing law must stand and this proposition is to be defeated.
Vote: Yes on 25
LA County Measure J: Budgeting for Alternatives to Incarceration
A "yes" vote supports:
A "no" vote opposes amending the county charter to require that no less than 10% of the county's general fund be appropriated to community programs and alternatives to incarceration.
A simple majority vote is required for the approval of the amendment.
The charter amendment would require that 10% of the unrestricted general funds be appropriated to community investment and alternatives to incarceration. For community investment, the amendment includes allocating funds to the following:
- youth development programs,
- job training and low-income jobs,
- investment in small minority-owned businesses,
- rent assistance, housing vouchers, and transitional housing.
For alternatives to incarceration, the amendment includes allocating funds to the following:
- community-based restorative justice programs,
- pre-trial non-custody services and treatment, and
- health services, counseling, and mental health and substance use disorder services.
The amendment would become effective on July 1, 2021, and implement the 10% allocation over three years with the full set aside in effect by June 30, 2024. The amendment authorizes the Board of Supervisors to reduce the 10% allocation with a 4-1 vote during declared fiscal emergencies.
Put on the ballot by a 4-1 vote of LA County Supervisors (Yes: Solis, Kuehl, Ridley-Thomas, Hahn - No: Barger)
DCC: This measure is the LAC Supervisors’ way of responding to the desire to (start) re-imagining policing: in this case by spending money for alternatives to incarceration. The Sheriff, the Association of Deputy Sheriffs of LAC, and the Deputy District Attorney’s all oppose it – which means it hits the law enforcement agencies not just in the pocket but in the psyche: it is intended to keep people out of jail and they love to lock ‘em up. The LAT objection is that it was hastily conceived after a summer of protests: that is not a good reason for not starting to think through the role of police in today’s United States.
Vote Yes on Measure J