November 9 – Local voters Tuesday approved three
ballot initiatives, defeated one and left another hanging in the
With all the precincts in -- but with thousands of absentee ballots
still to be counted -- Santa Monica voters easily approved initiatives
to give the City Manger more power over the hiring and firing
of top officials and to make the enforcement of marijuana use
the police department’s lowest priority.
Local voters, however, rejected a measure placed on the ballot
by the City Council that would have slackened tough campaign finance
restrictions, and barely approved, for now, a parcel tax to help
clean up the bay.
When it came to forking over money, local voters seemed more
generous than their statewide counterparts, easily approving a
$268 million bond to renovate and repair the district’s
aging schools, eight of which are more than 60 years old.
The bond – which needed only 55 percent of the vote –
won 19,419 votes, or 67, to 9,518 votes, or 33 percent.
Voters also seem on the verge of approving Prop V, a $40 million
property tax that will fund upgrades to the storm drainage system
and other water management projects designed to clean the bay.
The fate of the measure – which requires two-thirds of
the vote -- was too close to call, with 16,623 voters approving,
or 66.77 percent, and 8,273 opposing Prop V.
Perhaps the most controversial of the proposed laws, Prop U --
which won 15,339 votes to 8,164, or 65.26 percent -- directs Santa
Monica police to make marijuana enforcement their lowest priority
for people 21 and older discovered with the drug.
Proponents said it was a logical response to the war on drugs,
which, they say, has been a massive public policy failure that
has drained billions of dollars and put millions of people in
Local police -- who said the measure was “a solution looking
for a problem “ -- are alarmed it will set a dangerous precedent
by allowing citizens to dictate how the department should do its
A far less controversial measure to boost the City Manager’s
power won easily with 15,823 voters, or 71 percent, backing the
measure, and 6,424 opposing it.
The brainchild of Lamont Ewell, who assumed the city manager’s
post in January, Prop U strips department heads of civil service
protections and bypasses the approval of board members and commissioners.
The charter amendment also expands the hiring pool available
to the city manager, allowing the City to consider outside applicants,
as well as more than three applicants for top management positions.
It also allows the City to fill an empty manager’s position
with a temporary hire for 180 days – up from 90 days –
so that there’s ample time to look for the most qualified
Voters Tuesday rejected a measure that would have replaced the
controversial “Oaks Amendment,” which prohibits elected
officials from profiting from their position.
Prop W – which grabbed headlines after opponents used the
Santa Monica Pier sign trademarked by the City in an ad blasting
the council – went down with 11,933 voters, or 53 percent,
opposing the council-sponsored measure and 10,588 approving it.
One immediate result of the vote is that council incumbents will
not be able to recover the campaign contributions they returned
under the Oaks Initiative.
Approved by voters six years ago, the law prohibits City officials
from accepting gifts, jobs or campaign contributions from a person
or group that benefited from a vote or decision made by that official.