LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The Los Angeles City Council has voted to place a bond measure on the November ballot aimed at raising money to address the city’s homelessness problem, but postponed consideration of a related parcel tax measure until Friday, July 1.
The council agreed to ask voters to authorize $1.2 billion in bonds to be issued over 10 years, but is also considering an alternative parcel tax measure that could raise $90 million per year until 2027 for homeless housing and services.
The council has yet to decide which revenue-raising strategy to advance and is being asked to place both the bond and tax measures on the ballot, at least for now. The council would have until Aug. 12 to withdraw one of the measures.
At least two City Council members — Jose Huizar and Marqueece Harris-Dawson — are pushing for the bond proposal, with both pointing to recent polling indicating the public would be more receptive to it over a parcel tax measure.
The parcel tax would be calculated based on the square footage of improvements, while the bond measure would be paid back through taxes based on a property’s assessed value.
City officials estimate that under a $1.2 billion bond measure, property owners would generally need to pay an additional $4.50 to $17.50 per year for every $100,000 of assessed value, with the payments lasting for as many as 28 years.
If approved, the proposed bond amount would be the largest voters have ever authorized the city to issue. The biggest bond amount approved thus far was $600 million to pay for citywide security improvements. Voters have also approved city bond measures to build public facilities for the library, police and fire departments, animal shelters and the zoo, and to make seismic upgrades.
City leaders last year vowed to tackle homelessness and to put about $100 million toward the effort. They estimate it will cost about $1.85 billion over a decade to adequately house and provide services to homeless individuals and families in Los Angeles. A recent count put the city’s transient population at about 27,000.
Councilmember Mike Bonin said this week — prior to a preliminary vote on
the bond measure — that there is a “hunger for solutions” to end homelessness, and the city should “strike now, while that window of public support is open.”
He said the city is moving forward despite a countywide proposal to put a “millionaires” tax on the ballot that would have high-income earners helping to pay for homeless housing and services. That proposal is stalled because Gov. Jerry Brown is “stubbornly not allowing the county to pursue” the measure, Bonin said.
Council President Herb Wesson also pointed to the need for the city to move forward, despite the county proposal.
“We all agree the best approach should be a regional approach, but it does not look like that regional approach is going to occur,” he said.
City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said that with the bond measure, the individual bonds would only be issued when “projects surface.”
“We’re trying to avoid a situation where we’re borrowing more than what we need,” he said.
The money from either the parcel tax or the bond measure would be spent on housing for people who are homeless or in danger of being pushed onto the streets. The funds would also be earmarked for facilities that provide mental health services, drug and alcohol treatment and other assistance.
City leaders are hoping to submit the proposed measure or measures by July 1 so that they can be placed on the November ballot.