This coming Tuesday, March 7th, the citizens of Los Angeles will be voting on a county and city ballot measure. They are Measure H and Measure S.
Under Measure H, the Voters of Los Angeles County are being asked to increase their sales tax by one-quarter percent (0.25%) to put a dent in homelessness. Sadly, the putting a dent in homelessness is pure RUBBISH. Measure H will not create a single unit of housing, nor will it pay for a single homeless person to be housed.
What will Measure H really do? Measure H is a government administrated slush fund to be doled out to not for profits who have generated campaign foot soldiers and contributions to Democratic Party politicians. It is, in a word, corruption. It was placed on the ballot by, and for, well-connected not-for-profit organizations to tax citizens to ostensibly support their services to homeless people.
The Center for Populist Urban Politics urges the citizens of Los Angeles County to not just vote NO, but Hell NO on H!
Under Measure S, voters in the City of Los Angeles are being asked to place a moratorium on land use approvals beyond those allowed in the General Plan for a period of two years. The reason is Los Angeles City Council members regularly vote for dense mixed use projects that Measure S authors claim destroy neighborhoods. These dense, mixed use projects choke off neighborhoods with traffic congestion; harm citizens with noise, air and light pollution; and raise local area rents. Supporters of Measure S see clear a clear relationship between developers who give campaign contributions to city politicians and later have their projects approved that earlier had little to no support. In the framers view, Los Angeles politicians are for sale and Measure S will reduce this quid pro quo, pay to play environment.
The City Council, Mayor, Chamber of Commerce, construction industry and even the Los Angeles Times (how far that paper has fallen) claim citizens must vote against S because in their warped opinion, the only answer to population growth and homelessness is to build more dense luxury apartments.
However, this is simply not the case. Los Angeles does not have a shortage of housing units.
According to the 2000 US Census, Los Angeles had 1,337,706 housing units. Of those units, 62,294, or 4.6% were vacant. Ten years later in 2010, the US Census Bureau reported there were 1,413,995 units in the city of which 95,827 units or 6.78% were vacant. Then in the 2014 the American Community Survey (ACS) (the most recent available numbers) state there were 1,427,355 units in the city of which 97,983 units, or 6,86% were vacant.
Consider there are only 68,000 or so homeless individuals in Los Angeles County. If we gave each homeless person one of those empty units, there would be roughly 30,000 units left over – still sitting empty. If for some reason Measure H should pass (God forbid!), the cash , from that boondoggle, if used in the right way, could give each homeless person a place to live without have to construct a single apartment.
One of the problems our politicians conveniently look the other way on is that we are building units for absentee, non-citizens to own and hold as a hedge against economic and political problems in their own nations. The gravy train of campaign cash contributions and higher property taxes have been so lucrative for our local politicians, that they have felt justified ignoring the needs of the local population.
The Center For Progressive Urban Politics urges the citizens of Los Angeles to VOTE YES on MEASURE S, as a way to make City Hall work for the residents.
By Steven S. Lamb
Fellow, Center for Populist Urban Politics.