March 5 Ballot Measures to Watch

There’s only one statewide proposition on the March 5 primary ballot. But it’s a different story at the local level. Voters across cities and counties will weigh in on a multitude of local initiatives dealing with housing, policing, taxes, education, elections and more. Below is a summary of some of the measures we’re watching.

Alameda Measure B - Changing the Recall Process

Alameda voters are being asked to change the process for recalling elected officials. Measure B was placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors. It would align Alameda County’s recall language with the state’s. In practical terms, it would increase the number of required signatures to get a recall on the ballot, allow the county more time to verify the signatures, and prohibit the recall of appointed officers. Proponents say the language in the current County Charter is outdated. Opponents call the measure a power grab. One big concern is how Measure B could impact the recall effort against District Attorney Pamela Price, which is already underway under current rules.

Fresno Measure B - Exerting Local Control Over Place Names

The fight over Measure B in Fresno is an outgrowth of the saga over Yokuts Valley, formerly known as Squaw Valley. The word “squaw” is a slur for an indigenous woman. State law now bans the term from being used as the official name for places and geographic features in California. That law upset a majority of Fresno County supervisors, who wished to continue using Yokuts Valley’s original name. Measure B asks whether the county’s charter should affirm the county’s right to change the name of geographic features and place names within its jurisdiction. The measure is largely symbolic. Even if it passes, it won’t supersede state law. “Yokuts Valley” is here to stay. 

Long Beach Measure RW - Raising the Minimum Wage for Hotel Workers

This measure was placed on the ballot by the Long Beach City Council and is supported by Unite Here Local 11. It would raise the minimum wage for hotel workers from $17.55 to $23.00 per hour beginning July 1, 2024, with gradual increases to $29.50 by July 1, 2028. After that, hotel workers would receive annual cost of living increases based on the Consumer Price Index, but not less than +2% per year. Proponents of Measure RW say hospitality workers are disproportionately burdened by high costs of living. Opponents say the measure would hurt the local economy and place 18,000 jobs at risk. A similar measure was rejected by voters in Anaheim last year.

Huntington Beach Measures A, B, and C 

Measures A, B, and C were all placed on the ballot by Huntington Beach’s conservative City Council majority. 

Measure A would allow the city to require government-issued photo identification in order to cast a vote. The measure does not address ID requirements for mail-in voting. Advocates say the policy is necessary to restore trust in election integrity. The state’s Attorney General has warned the city that this measure would violate state law. 

Measure B is a codification of existing policy previously approved by the council’s majority. It limits flags displayed on city property to the American flag, the State of California flag, the POW-MIA flag, the city and county flag, flags of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the Olympic flag, with additions only permitted through a unanimous vote of the city council. Critics characterize the policy as anti-LGBTQ because it effectively bans Pride flags. Proponents say there is no flag more inclusive of all people than the flag of the United States.

Measure C would move the city to a two-year budget cycle. It would also update the process for canceling meetings, allowing the mayor to do so unilaterally. Finally, Measure C would update the process for filling vacancies. A vacancy appointee could not serve longer than two years. Future council appointments would only last until the next regularly scheduled election. 

Irvine Measure D - Changing the Election System

This is another referral measure. The charter amendment calls for increasing the size of the Irvine City Council from five members to seven, including the mayor. The six councilmembers would be elected from districts, while the mayor would be elected at large. The switch to district-based elections has been in the works for some time. Irvine was threatened with legal action in 2021 over its at-large system, which disenfranchises voters of color, according to district election advocates. Numerous other cities have switched to district-based elections to avoid lawsuits in recent years. 

San Francisco Measures B, E and F

The backlash against progressive policies continues in San Francisco, as evidenced by a group of ballot initiatives affecting policing and social services.

Measure B was placed on the ballot by a narrow majority of supervisors to address a shortage of police officers. The charter amendment would allow the city to increase police staffing, but only through an unspecified "future tax" on residents. Supervisor Matt Dorsey initially proposed the measure. He is now leading the opposition to Measure B because of the tax provision, which was added by amendment. He calls it a "poison pill."

Measure E would allow for expanded use of police surveillance technology and less oversight from the Police Commission and Board of Supervisors. SFPD would get the green light to expand police pursuits and drone use, with a decrease in documentation requirements for officer use-of-force incidents. The measure is supported by law enforcement and Mayor London Breed, and would expand local police powers amid public safety concerns. Opponents say it will increase the risk of civil rights violations and disproportionately impact people of color. In order to pass, Measure E would need to be approved by over 50% of voters.

Measure F was placed on the ballot by Mayor London Breed in response to the drug crisis. It would allow the city to drug test welfare recipients and require users to undergo drug abuse treatment in order to obtain cash benefits. Together with Measure E, an approval of F would be the most salient sign since the recall of DA Chesa Boudin that San Francisco voters are souring on progressive social policies surrounding drug use and crime. A measure like this, spearheaded by the city's mayor no less, would have been unthinkable just several years ago.   

San Joaquin Measure D – Making Mountain House a City

California could soon get its newest incorporated city if this measure passes. Mountain House – a 30-year-old established community of 24,499 people – would become “an independent, self-governing city” under Measure D. It was placed on the ballot by the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors and would take effect July 1. The measure would not change essential community services such as public safety and there would be no increase in taxes. A five-member city council will be established. Whether they would be elected by district or at large has yet to be determined.


Comments

Finance

Monday, January 29, 2024 - 11:03

A state appeals court has upheld a decision by the Ventura County Employees’ Retirement Association (VCERA) prohibiting leave cashouts that “straddle” calendar years — a practice that has resulted