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Another Election Days Away for Santa Monica  

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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

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Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

March 1, 2017 -- Still recovering from the November 8 general election, voters in Santa Monica and the rest of metro L.A. will head back to the polls on Tuesday to decide a proposed quarter-cent sales tax increase to help house and care for the homeless and those at risk of being homeless.

A scattering of cities throughout Los Angeles County will also decide municipal issues on March 7, although that is not the case in Santa Monica.

Although Measure H will be decided by voters in all cities, talk of the $355 million ballot measure -- which funds for ten years the most comprehensive approach to homelessness in the county’s history -- has been mostly low-key.

Supporters are a coalition of elected officials, including those from Santa Monica, Los Angeles and elsewhere on the Westside; service providers and many in construction-related fields.

In Santa Monica, the Democratic Club is also urging a “yes” vote, as is Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR).

“Measure H will cost the average tax payer about 3 cents per day,” SMRR leaders wrote in an email to members after its steering committee voted to support Measure H in January. “For that little amount the county can help end homelessness.”

No formal voice of opposition has yet to surface.

If enacted, the “Los Angeles County Plan to Prevent and Combat Homelessness,” the formal name for Measure H, would permanently house an estimated 45,000 families and individuals in the first five years, while preventing 30,000 at-risk people from sliding into homelessness, supporters said.

Los Angeles County –- the nation’s homeless capitol -– would also use the funds to broaden the safety net for the county’s estimated 47,000 homeless people, and those at risk of becoming homeless.

Funding is earmarked for mental health and substance abuse treatment, health care, education, job training, rental and housing subsidies, case management and services, emergency and affordable housing, transportation, outreach, prevention, and supportive services for homeless children, families, foster youth, veterans, battered women, seniors, disabled individuals and other homeless adults.

The measure stems from the Homeless Initiative, adopted by the county Board of Supervisors in February, and would work in conjunction with Proposition HHH, a $1.2-billion bond measure approved by Los Angeles city residents in November.

Measure H funding would provide services for the thousands of units of homeless housing that will be financed by Proposition HHH.

How the funding would be divvied up for its many services is still being determined, officials said,

A two-thirds supermajority vote is required for passage.

As of January, Santa Monica’s sales tax was 9.250 percent, according to the state Board of Equalization.

Santa Monica voters approved two increases for government spending in the November 8 election.

Measure GSH raised the transactions and use tax by an additional 0.50 percent, or from 0.50 percent to 1 percent ("Opponents Call Santa Monica Tax Measure "Growth Stimulating Hormone," Supporters Disagree," August 24, 2016) .

The measure is expected to raise $16 million to be evenly split between the public schools and the City for affordable housing and other needs.

Voters also approved Measure V, a $345 million bond for improvements at Santa Monica College ("$345 Million Santa Monica College Bond Measure Placed on Ballot," July 7, 2016).

Santa Monica's homeless count in January of 2016 found 728 individuals spending the night in the city, a one percent decrease from the 2015 count. Those living in the streets totaled 416, a three percent increase from last year.

Results from the 2017 homeless count in January are due to be released soon.

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