To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hundreds of local tax measures fill Calif. ballot


By JUDY LIN Associated Press
Updated:   10/21/2012 01:07:44 PM PDT
 SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Gov. Jerry Brown has competition on the November ballot, and it's not just from a rival statewide tax initiative seeking to raise income taxes for school funding.
He is asking California voters to increase the state sales tax and income taxes on the wealthy to close the state budget deficit at the same time that hundreds of cities, counties, school districts and local special districts are making their own tax requests of voters.

In addition to Brown's initiative, Proposition 30, more than 230 measures for local taxes, bonds and fees will appear on the local ballots, said Michael Coleman, fiscal policy adviser to the League of California Cities. More than 100 of those initiatives are being put forward by school districts and community colleges for construction bonds and to buy equipment and make repairs.

The rest were placed on the ballot by municipalities, special districts and school districts to increase or renew parcel, utility and use taxes. The number of local revenue measures is comparable to the volume seen during the 2008 and 2004 presidential election years.

With Brown's initiative leading the ballot this year, voters in many parts of the state will have to consider whether they can afford to support several local tax increases, the statewide tax increases, all of them or just say no.

Chelsea Shannon, a first-time voter, said she was overwhelmed by the Sacramento ballot, which includes a local sales taxproposal and school bond requests in addition to the statewide tax questions.

The 19-year-old said she is inclined to support both the governor's tax initiative and Sacramento's Measure U, a sales tax increase to rebuild police, fire and park services that were cut severely during the recession.

She said the local tax increase will make the city safer. If both Proposition 30 and Measure U pass, shoppers in California's capital city will pay 8.5 percent in sales tax for the next several years.

"Although it is high, compared to Oregon especially, which has no sales tax, I think we'll be fine with it," said Shannon, who attends the University of Portland and was registering to vote during a brief visit home last week. "From my perspective, Measure U is great because our city is not safe, and helping with prevention programs and giving money to beef up the police force, I think that's very beneficial to the city of Sacramento."

Like the City Council members in Sacramento who backed Measure U, local government and school officials elsewhere say their requests are a reflection of the impact the recession and its declining tax revenue have had on government services. Yet the number of local tax measures facing voters could very well make Brown's sales job harder.

The last time a statewide tax increase was approved by California voters was a millionaire's tax for mental health programs in 2004.

"I think it's going to play very negatively," said David Wolfe, legislative director with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, an anti-tax group. "We have already the highest state sales tax in the nation by far. We still have a 10.8 percent unemployment rate, 2 million Californians are still out of work, and it's hard to justify increases in regressive taxes of this nature when municipalities and the state haven't addressed the pension issue or a rainy day fund or spending discipline."

The board of the Coast Community College District in Orange County decided it was time to put a $698 million bond question on the ballot because the district has a long list of much-needed repairs and upgrades to the three-college system, said Jim Moreno, the board's president. Many of the college system's 60,000 students are seeking to re-enter the workforce after serving in the military.

"It's because money is not coming to us and we have to ask the people who have invested in us before to do it again," Moreno said of Measure M. "It's not that we're in competition (with the governor) or we're riding coattails. Everybody is hurting."

Moreno said he believes voters will understand the need to invest in education at a time when the college staff has accepted a 2.5 percent pay cut and fees have jumped from $26 a unit to $46.

The San Diego Unified School District is asking for one of the largest bond measures. Measure Z is a $2.8 billion bond to repair 60-year-old classrooms and improve libraries, wiring, plumbing, bathrooms and leaky roofs, not to mention removing hazardous materials and upgrading technology.

In Tulare County, in the southern San Joaquin Valley, 12 local measures have qualified for the November ballot. Among them are five school bonds, a school parcel tax and a tax on hotel stays in the city of Exeter.

There are 35 proposals to extend or increase local sales taxes in November, and 10 of those seek to increase or extend local sales taxes by a full 1 cent —in Moraga, Maricopa, La Mirada, Carmel, Hollister, Yucca Valley, Lathrop, Fairfield, Clearlake and Alameda County.

The debate over Sacramento's Measure U is an example of the debate seen in communities throughout California over raising taxes during a recession. It would impose a half-cent sales tax for six years to raise about $28 million year for general city services.

Supporters say the money is needed to restore recent cuts to police, fire and parks. Opponents say the city has not done all it can to negotiate better labor deals that would save taxpayers money in the long run.

Business leaders say they are opposed to Measure U because it puts the capital at a competitive disadvantage. If the proposal passes, Sacramento's sales tax would rise from 7.75 percent to 8.25 percent, 1 percent higher than in neighboring Placer County.

"The more tax measures that are on the same ballot, the higher likelihood that all of them get a no vote," said Roger Niello, a former state lawmaker who is president of the Sacramento Metro Chamber, which opposed the measure.

"It's got to create a certain amount of exasperation—'Oh my goodness, there's more,'" Niello added. "And there's also potential confusion."

Brown's initiative would boost the statewide sales tax by a quarter cent for four years.

Sonja Patel a researcher at the Public Policy Institute of California, said surveys have shown majority support for local parcel tax measures to fund public schools. EdSource, a nonpartisan group that compiles public school data, said parcel taxes had a passage rate of 61 percent even during the downtown, from 2008 through 2010.

Coleman, the consultant for the League of California Cities, said voters might look at local measures differently because they have a better sense of their local funding needs.

"My perception is that people differentiate between state and local, and that local measures fly independently of what's going on in the state for the most part," he said. "If people are going to vote against taxes, they're going to vote against them anyway."

Read more: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_21823458/hundreds-local-tax-measures-fill-calif-ballot#ixzz2A0LEWK6L

Cities, low on cash, hope ballot measures change their fortunes

Local governments and school districts across California, struggling to pay for essentials, are asking voters to approve tax and bond measures — and, in one case, a hopefully alluring new name.



 Guadalupe, Calif., might be renamed Guadalupe Beach.

 Guadalupe, Calif., is miles from the ocean. But in hopes of attracting more tourists, city officials are asking voters to change its name to Guadalupe Beach. (Michael Robinson Chavez, Los Angeles Times / October 15, 2012)



GUADALUPE, Calif. — Vacant, century-old storefronts stand as bricks-and-mortar tombstones in this once-booming little farm town on California's Highway 1, where flatbeds piled with strawberries rumble by, rarely having to hit the brakes at crosswalks.

Thrashed by the recession, officials here ran out of ways to cut expenses or boost tax revenue. So the town named after the patron saint of Mexico is throwing a Hail Mary.

The mayor and City Council crafted a Nov. 6 ballot measure to change the city's name to Guadalupe Beach — even though the Pacific Ocean is nearly five miles to the west.

"We have to do something," Mayor Lupe Alvarez said. "It's for the tourism that we hopefully attract. It's for landing that first hotel ... and it won't cost the taxpayers anything."

Cities, counties and school districts across California are finding themselves in the same financial pinch, but on election day most will rely on a less creative tactic. They're asking voters to pry open their wallets.

From Arcata to Coronado Island, local governments have placed more than 230 revenue-raising proposals on the ballot: school bonds, sales taxes, utility taxes, parcel taxes, hotel taxes, soda taxes, abandoned-car taxes and business taxes.

More than 100 school and community college districts are pitching bond measures. Almost three dozen cities and counties are asking voters to hike local sales taxes. Measure J in Los Angeles County would extend a half-cent sales tax for transportation projects until 2069.

"Everybody has been impacted by the recession," said Michael Coleman, a finance advisor for the League of California Cities who monitors local ballot measures statewide.

Guadalupe faced tough times before the downturn. Even the Far Western Tavern, Guadalupe's best-known saloon and home of the "famous bull's-eye steak," packed up and moved down the road to Orcutt in search of better fortunes.

Between a deteriorating tax base and Sacramento's raids on local funds, this northern Santa Barbara
County city with a meager $3-million yearly budget found itself $450,000 in the hole. City leaders furloughed employees, froze vacancies in the 12-officer Police Department and eliminated overtime in the three-man Fire Department. It wasn't enough.

A general tax increase was out of the question, the mayor said. The town's 7,000 residents, most of them farmworkers or ranchers, overwhelmingly rejected a hike in the utility tax two years ago.
So the campaign for Guadalupe Beach was born. Never mind that it's 10 minutes away from the nearest beach: the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve, a filming location where the sets for Cecil B. DeMille's silent "The Ten Commandments" are entombed in sand.

"It's crazy. This is Guadalupe. It'll always be Guadalupe. Nothing will change that," said Harry Masatani, 86, the owner of a corner grocery that's been in his family for 90 years. "Am I supposed to open a dune buggy shop?"

Local governments are struggling to make ends meet for a variety of reasons, including escalating pension costs and downturns in property- and sales-tax revenues, Coleman said. They were hit again by the state's elimination of local redevelopment agencies, which many cities relied on to help pay for street maintenance, housing programs and other government services.

The number of local revenue-raising ballot measures this November is in line with past elections, Coleman said. What's different is that local governments need the money for essentials. In past years, many initiatives helped pay for extras: new schools, parks and other community enhancements.

"We're seeing more general-purpose taxes," Coleman said. "Things have been cut so deeply over the past couple years because of the recession, cutting street maintenance, police and fire services…. There's no other place to go when things get really, really tight."

Elementary schools in Santa Fe Springs stopped buying new textbooks years ago. Now many are more than a decade old. Computers in the classrooms and library are so outmoded they can't handle new software, said Phillip Perez, superintendent of the Little Lake City School District, which also covers Norwalk.

So the district placed two measures on the Nov. 6 ballot. The first is an $18-million bond measure to renovate classrooms and upgrade science and computer labs. The other proposes a $48 parcel tax to pay for new textbooks, support art and music programs and keep schools well maintained.

"We're putting the decision to our local voters," Perez said. "We've trimmed and trimmed and trimmed. They know we've been fiscally prudent."

Carlotta Valladares, 62, lives a few blocks from one of the district schools, Jersey Avenue Elementary. The retired nurse plans to vote for both measures even though her husband is out of work.

Pollution drop from building rail yard near L.A. harbor disputed

Public health and environmental experts dispute predictions that air pollution will be significantly cut if a giant rail yard is built in the L.A. harbor area.



Public health and environmental experts are disputing predictions that air pollution would be significantly reduced if a giant rail yard is built next to schools, parks and hundreds of homes in the Los Angeles harbor area.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and the Port of Los Angeles say the proposed 153-acre facility would take enormous numbers of diesel trucks off the road, reducing the risk of cancer and respiratory illness for those who live and work along the 710 Freeway.

Rail and port officials say the $500-million yard — known as the Southern California International Gateway — would handle many of the big rigs that now must travel 20 miles north to drop off and pick up cargo containers at Burlington Northern's Hobart Yard, one of the largest facilities of its type in the nation.

The project is widely supported by labor unions, business organizations, elected officials and regional planning agencies that cite the creation of hundreds of jobs and the need to accommodate port growth.

Public health experts at USC, environmental advocates and officials at the South Coast Air Quality Management District, however, contend that the project's impact analysis overstates the air quality improvements.

Although there would be environmental benefits, they say, they would be erased in the future as the port continues to expand and truck traffic is pushed back to Hobart Yard, which would continue to handle domestic cargo.

Critics assert that the proposed gateway would still create substantial air pollution in adjacent west Long Beach, a largely minority and low-income community with high rates of asthma and respiratory illness related to emissions from various port operations. For example, at Elizabeth Hudson K-8 School near the project site, about 250 of 1,100 students have asthma.

"Hobart Yard won't be empty," said Andrea Hricko, a professor of preventive medicine at USC, citing data from the project's environmental analysis. "BNSF has plans for Hobart even if the Southern California International Gateway is built. By 2035, there will be almost twice as many trucks on the 710 as there were in 2010. The air will not be cleaner."

Rail and port officials counter that building the new yard — already eight years in development — would be better than not doing anything.

The views of the AQMD, environmentalists and public health officials are among the public comments being gathered for the port's draft environmental impact report. After evaluating the comments, the report will be sent to the Los Angeles Harbor Commission for approval early next year.

After the first round of comments ended this year, the port revised parts of the draft and recently released it for additional public review. The first of several hearings on the report was held last week in Wilmington. Several hundred people attended, including several dozen protesters carrying large skulls made of cardboard and chanting, "No more pollution."

At issue is Burlington Northern's plan to build the near-dock rail yard for international cargo in Wilmington next to California 103, between Sepulveda Boulevard and California 1 and east of Alameda Street. It is bordered by industrial uses, except for the east side, where there are schools, playing fields, parks, housing for the homeless and residential neighborhoods.

Railroad and port officials say the facility will be one of the "greenest" freight yards in the nation. Trucks serving the facility would be clean diesels as mandated by the port's air quality requirements.

Electric cranes as well as low emission locomotives and hostlers would be used in the yard. Noise and light pollution, they say, would be reduced with shielded lights and a sound wall along the project's border with west Long Beach.

According to the draft environmental impact report, about 5,500 trucks a day would be taken off the 710. Consequently, the report concludes that the risk of cancer and respiratory illness due to harmful emissions would be reduced in west Long Beach and along the vital 710 trade corridor.

But David Pettit, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the revised draft now reveals that the project would have substantial adverse effects on air quality and have a disproportionally high effect on low income, minority residents.

"They have admitted that there will be serious and unmitigable health effects on the neighborhoods surrounding the project," said Pettit, who also contends that Burlington Northern is trying to take credit for air quality improvements that would stem from the port's clean truck program.

If the gateway is built, Hricko said truck traffic would eventually return to Hobart Yard because of increases in domestic trade and a trend in the shipping industry called transloading — an operation that consolidates the loads from two 40-foot cargo containers and places them into one 53-foot container before it is taken by truck to Hobart.

Hricko also said that public health experts have asserted for years that it is inappropriate to build polluting rail yards within 1,000 feet of schools, day care centers, parks and veterans housing.

Hundreds of scientific papers, she said, show that children and others who live near traffic pollution are more likely to develop asthma, heart disease and other illnesses.

Susan Nakamura, a South Coast Air Quality Management District official, said that if the gateway project wants to use the removal of trucks from Hobart Yard to claim emission reductions then it should include Hobart and its projected growth in truck traffic as part of the environmental review.

But Lena Kent, a spokeswoman for Burlington Northern, said that although truck traffic at Hobart Yard is expected to grow in the future, that depends entirely on market conditions. In any event, she added, the volume of big rigs on the 710 would be significantly less if the international gateway is built.

"Without the Southern California International Gateway, the situation on the 710 will be worse," Kent said. "There will be considerable health and risk benefits from the project. They [the critics] are only trying to pull things out of the environmental impact report that make it sound a lot worse than it is."
Video Say No to Measure J Community Leaders Meet On Oct 9 2012

Supervisor Michael Antonovich Joins Beverly Hills, L.A. Groups in Coalition to Defeat Measure J 

Posted Thursday, October 18–11:21 AM
By Matt Lopez and Marla Schevker

Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chair Michael Antonovich joined the rapidly growing Coalition to Defeat Measure J in a press conference Thursday morning at the front steps of Metro’s headquarters in Los Angeles.

Antonovich, who has been outspoken against Metro’s lies and broken promises to cities such as Beverly Hills, Claremont and many inner city areas, reiterated his opposition to Measure J,  a “blank check” for Metro which will extend the half-cent sales tax for local transportation previously approved by voters 30 more years until 2069.

“This is really a shakedown,” Antonovich said. “It does not meet the bus needs, the rail needs, or the taxpayers needs.”

“It has no rail connections to our airports,” Antonovich added. “The Green Line won’t go to LAX because the funding is not adequate in Measure R. The (Gold Line) will not go to Ontario Airport because it doesn’t go to Claremont. The Blue Line doesn’t go to Long Beach Airport, or Bob Hope or Palmdale (Airports).”

Antonovich was joined on stage by several members of the Coalition to Defeat Measure J, including Beverly Hills Vice Mayor John Mirisch and BHUSD Board of Education boardmember Lisa Korbatov. Members from the Crenshaw Subway Coalition, Bus Riders Union and Congress of Racial Equality were also on hand.

“We have a proposition that locks down the population at a 2004 figure all the way until 2069, it’s ridiculous,” Antonovich said. “It locks in funding until 2069, when all of us will be in our local cemetery.”

“I join with my colleagues, (including) Supervisor Don Knabe to vote NO on Measure (J), with this coalition of people behind me, we are urging a no vote,” Antonovich said. “Let’s have a transit system that meets all of the needs, not just the special interest’s needs.”
No on Measure J: Time to Stop Ballot Initiative Exploitation


No Measure J for LA
For the past year, the Los Angeles black community has been trying to negotiate a suitable and acceptable plan to mitigate traffic and business disruption around the construction of the Crenshaw/LAX rail line that will be coming down Crenshaw Blvd.

Like every other community that has been impacted (or will be impacted) by permanent transportation infrastructure, the Crenshaw community should be heard, listened to and cooperated with on something that will effect their lives, the lives of their children and their children’s children.

Light rail infrastructure will be around for 100 years. Once it’s done, it’s done. It will be around longer than the politicians and experts that planned it, constructed it and cut the ribbon. Once that’s done, it’s the people’s lives that will be disrupted and disgusted over the impediments and inconveniences caused by undesirable, and unwanted, transportation design. Crenshaw’s elected officials are listening. Crenshaw’s Mayor is not. He hasn’t heard us, and he ain’t hearing us.

But I BET he’ll hear this. His ballot initiative to pay for his darling “Subway to the sea” dream gets a NO from us.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pitched the federal government with this lofty plan of building 30 years worth of transportation infrastructure. He floated a bond measure, Measure R, in 2008, that would raise approximately $35 billion dollars over 30 years with a half cent sales tax earmarked for transportation projects. The black community overwhelming supported Measure R, in hopes of getting its long awaited Crenshaw Rail line built, a line first proposed 26 years ago in 1986.

Some analysts said the black community vote was the tipping point for Measure R in Southern California’s highly anti-taxation environment. However, when the ballot measure passed, all parts of the county came with dream projects and demands for the money grab.

The reward to the black community was to finish the controversial Expo Line and put a bus line down Crenshaw. If it wasn’t for the effort of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, demanding the rail line stay on the table, the black community would have seen essentially nothing for their vote to tax themselves. Instead, the reward has been a rail line, but a rail line with a design the community doesn’t support, and a “take it or leave it” attitude from the Mayor.

A Mayor, we have to keep reminding (kicking) ourselves, that our community put in office. A Mayor hell bent on trying to complete 12 transportation projects in ten years. He pitched President Obama to sign the America Fast Forward bill this past summer which would offer up $105 billion dollars in loans for stalled and unfunded turnkey transportation projects. Still, no love for the Crenshaw/LAX line.

$545 million was set aside for the Leimert Park stop that Villaraigosa made conditional to the design if the money was found. Still no effort to take a highly disruptive rail line thru the middle of a commerce starved Hyde Park business district – essentially assuring its demise.

With this facing a disgusted community, Villaraigosa has the audacity to float another half cent tax bond to complete current projects – not including the Crenshaw/LAX project. Let me get this straight – you want the black community to tax itself, until the year 2069, for transportation projects that neither impact nor improve our community?

Well, that’s straight-up JACKING. Robin Hood in reverse. Take from the poor and give to the rich.
 Who are the rich in Los Angeles? Say it with me now,“The Westside.”

Like every other community that has been impacted (or will be impacted) by permanent transportation infrastructure, the Crenshaw community should be heard, listened to and cooperated with on something that will effect their lives, the lives of their children and their children’s children.

Villaraigosa’s Measure J, which the community is now calling, “Measure Jackin’ Us,” essentially is a tax to help Villaraigosa fulfill “his dream” of a subway to the sea – which runs from downtown to
Santa Monica, and runs underground when the community said so.

So, again – it’s all about him. The Southside and Eastside of Los Angeles will just have to pay without sufficient return on their investment. Why should these communities always be expected to negotiate away their dignity – or have some suit negotiate it away for them?

The Space Shuttle journey down Crenshaw was pretty – but not pretty enough for our community to lose four hundred trees. Yeah, they’ll replace them two to one, but what do we breath for 20 years in the meantime? What replaces the oxygen during the time it takes for trees to be planted and become full grown? Oh, nobody thought that through, huh? Other communities did. That’s why the Shuttle went down Crenshaw Blvd.

You can only put so much on one community before they have to draw a line in the sand. The Crenshaw Community did that with Villaraigosa months ago. He danced all over it and smiled. Now he’s trying to tax us for 65 years and still smiling. Well, smile at this…
NO ON Measure J. Tell your friends, family, people you don’t like. Vote Obama, Jackie Lacey and NO on Measure J. Shout from the mountain tops, and the street corners. Hold up signs, and have a candle vigil. There’s something for everybody to do on this one. But it’s time.

Let’s stop the jacking that’s about to occur in South L.A. If MTA can’t find money for a Leimert Park stop and a tunnel at 48th, we can’t find a vote on Measure J. S**t just got real…

Vote No on Measure J.

Anthony Samad

Community Protocol Standard

Posted on No 710 on Avenue 64 Facebook page

First-Time National Standard to Help Cities Keep Tabs on Greenhouse Gas Emissions – Next American Ci
A new national standard for measuring greenhouse gas emissions has the potential to change how citie...
Community Protocol Standard

Posted on No 710 on Avenue 64 Facebook page

Ellen Biasin2:26am Oct 21
More about the Community Protocol standard. It creates a Community Carbon Footprint - can help us connect and outreach with others in our community:

Community Protocol Overview — ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA

Local governments are strongly encouraged to include other sources and activities in accounting and ...

Media reacts as No On Measure J coalition hits the streets


 by Crystal McMillan on Wednesday, October 17, 2012

 The No On Measure J coalition held a press conference on the corner of Crenshaw and Slauson on October 16th. and the media paid attention highlighting the diverse group of LA County residents who have come together in common purpose to fight this regressive sales tax. 

The Beverly Hills Courier pointed out the concerns that have united this coalition "Beverly Hills isn't the only city Metro is trying to destroy. Dozens of community leaders and concerned residents from areas like Boyle Heights, Crenshaw and Pasadena came together with Beverly Hills Tuesday morning in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles to speak out against Measure J, Metro's "blank check" that will extend the half-cent Measure R sales tax another 30 years to 2069. The Courier went on to quote Janet Dodson of the "No On 710 Action Committee, "You'll be hearing about how Measure J is going to bring jobs to the community, It will only be bringing jobs to [corporations such as Parsons Brinckerhoff] and the contractors that work for these people."

The Front Page Online, calling it a "Rainbow Coalition", went on to emphasis the concern of the coalition on how the tax will be spent, saying "The goal of the newly formed Coalition to Defeat Measure J: To set off eclectic electricity and draw attention to their unified conviction that Measure J would fail to aid mass transit in places where most needed."

City Watch called it "LA County in Harms Way with Measure J", going on to say: Measure J wastes resources where growth is not wanted and does not plan for growth where it should occur. So don't accelerate Measure R projects (with J) by buying things you don't need with money you don't have while ignoring the problems you do have and not creating the opportunities for problem solving you should develop.

Betty Pleasant of Soulvine put it eloquently in her op-ed;"Measure J seeks to increase sales taxes to complete transportation projects in some parts of Los Angeles County - but not the Crenshaw Line!! The voters approved a 30-year increase in sales taxes for that purpose in 2008, and now MTA wants more money just four years later?! Naw, as my grandfather use to say, "that dog won't hunt." This coalition is right."
o read more about the new coalition you can read the articles in LA Opinion, Annenberg TV News, CityWatchLA,