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Local issues: taxes and growth

October 19, 2008

Los Angeles City

Proposition A

Property tax for after-school and anti-gang programs

What it would do: Collect an additional $36 per property per year for such activities as L.A.'s Best, the Boys and Girls Club and other after-school programs.

Chief proponents: Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton, former Mayor Richard Riordan, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Jeff Carr.

Major donors to proponents: Real estate developer Rick Caruso, SA Recycling, Wells Fargo, BNSF Railway, Tutor Saliba Corp., Related Cos.

Chief opponents: Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn.; Richard Close, president, Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn.; Walter Moore, candidate for Los Angeles mayor.

Major donors to opponents: None

Main arguments in favor: Proposition A will use $30 million in increased annual property tax revenue to pay for tutoring, arts programs, apprenticeship programs and other programs for school-age children. Paying for such programs upfront will cost taxpayers far less than arresting and imprisoning gang members later.

Main arguments against: Los Angeles has already asked its citizens to contribute to the fight against gangs by tripling the trash fee on homeowners and small apartment buildings and sending that money to the Los Angeles Police Department. For single-family households, the trash fee has jumped in a two-year period from $11 to $36.32 per month.


Proposition B

Affordable housing

What it would do: Repeal five ballot measures passed between 1973 and 1980 authorizing the construction of 52,500 new affordable housing units citywide, many of them for the elderly.

Chief proponents: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles City Council, Southern California Assn. of Non-Profit Housing, Central City Assn., Valley Industry and Commerce Assn.

Major donors to proponents: None

Chief opponents: James O'Sullivan, president of Miracle Mile Residential Assn.; senior housing advocate Juanita Dellomes; taxpayer Joyce Dillard.

Major donors to opponents: None

Main arguments in favor: Proposition B would allow Los Angeles to accept proceeds from Proposition 1C, the 2006 state housing measure that will offer $2.8 billion to cities and counties. The city has been prevented from tapping that money because of previous ballot measures that earmarked a disproportionate number of affordable units for senior citizens.

Main arguments against: Proposition B would reduce the number of affordable housing units earmarked for seniors. By tapping state housing money, the city would also attract a greater number of high-density housing developments, flooding neighborhoods with traffic and other negative impacts.


Los Angeles County

Measure R

Transportation sales tax

What it would do: Raise the sales tax by .5%, to 8.75%, for 30 years, generating an estimated $30 billion to $40 billion for road improvements and mass transit, such as a Westside subway extension, a Gold Line extension and a Green Line-LAX connection.

Chief proponents: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan.

Major donors to proponents: Amalgamated Transit Union, Southern California District Council of Laborers, building trade unions, Automobile Club of Southern California.

Chief opponents: County Supervisors Mike Antonovich, Don Knabe and Gloria Molina; Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority board of directors; Richard Close, president, Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn.; President Richard Close; Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn.

Major donors to opponents: No such fundraising committee has been formed.

Main arguments in favor: The measure would provide a plan for traffic relief throughout the county and would reduce smog while decreasing dependence on foreign oil and making long-term investments in roads and mass transit.

Main arguments against: The spending plan was hastily assembled to satisfy political interests. Revenues would not be fairly distributed throughout the county but would go to a subway extension on the Westside.


Proposition U

Utility tax

What it would do: Reduce existing tax on communications, electricity and gas usage in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County from 5% to 4.5% but expand services subject to the tax. For the first time, the tax would be levied on cellphone calls, billing, custom calling features, Voice-over-Internet Protocol, text messaging and paging. Money raised by the tax goes to sheriff's deputies, county libraries and other services provided by the county's general fund.

Major donors to proponents: Spears Manufacturing; Jones Day Law; Jerry Epstein, owner of Jerry B. Epstein Management Co.

Chief proponents: Los Angeles County Supervisors Yvonne B. Burke and Gloria Molina, Sheriff Lee Baca, Parks and Recreation Director Russ Guiney and Library Commission Chairman Joseph A. Cislowski.

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