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Local Measures Overview:

The Santa Monica ballot on November 7 will contain, in addition to state and local candidates and an array of state propositions, four city measures and a school district bond measure. Herewith, an overview of Measures U, V and BB. Next week, we’ll discuss Measures W and Y.

MEASURE U

This ballot item, generically titled, “TO AMEND VARIOUS EXISTING CITY CHARTER SECTIONS,” is a package of charter amendments dealing with personnel matters. Probably the most important of these amendments removes all City departmental directors from civil service and makes them “at will” employees, serving at the pleasure of the City Manager who appoints them and to whom they report.

The fuller statement of the measure, although still a summary, is: “Shall the City Charter be amended to make it current with best governmental management practices by removing City departmental directors from civil service, changing the advisory roles of some City boards and commissions that deal with hiring of departmental directors, making other related changes concerning promotions and hiring, amending certain provisions concerning the office of City Clerk and by amending some other Charter provisions to remove terms that are no longer legally valid?”

Currently, the City Manager’s appointment of the directors of Community and Cultural Services, Human Resourses, and the Library requires approval of those directors’ respective boards or commissions; this measure would replace the approval requirement with a provision that the City Manager shall consult with all boards and commissions regarding the appointment of departmental directors.

Measure U is supported by former mayors Nathaniel Trives and Judy Abdo, Chamber of Commerce chair John Bohn, and current City Council members Herb Katz and Ken Genser, who argue that it “will bring Santa Monica’s personnel policies up to date, so they are in line with modern management practices,” and that it “will make City government more responsive and accountable to the people of Santa Monica.” No argument in opposition to the measure was submitted to the City Clerk.

This measure is supported by seven of the eight City Council candidates responding to the Mirror questionnaire, including all three incumbents seeking reelection.

MEASURE V

This measure is titled “CLEAN BEACHES AND OCEAN PARCEL TAX ACT,” and it establishes a parcel tax “to raise revenue solely for the purpose of implementing and financing a portion of the City’s Watershed Management Plan,” which “proposes urban runoff management and pollution prevention activities to protect Santa Monica Bay, beaches and ocean resources and to satisfy federal, state and regional pollution discharge and water quality requirements,” according to the City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis.

The fuller ballot statement, again still a summary, is: “For the purposes of funding the implementation of a portion of the City of Santa Monica Watershed Management Plan, shall the City of Santa Monica authorize the Clean Beaches and Ocean Parcel Tax, as specifically set forth in the proposed Ordinance that appears in the voter pamphlet, subject to an annual CPI escalator, and subject to audit by a citizen’s oversight committee?”

The proposed ordinance establishes an annual parcel tax of $84 for each parcel with one single family detached residence. Rates for multi-family and commercial properties vary with parcel size and a “runoff factor” formula tied to storm drainage. Rates can increase with the Consumer Price Index. This would raise an estimated $2.35 million for operations/maintenance costs as well as fund up to $40 million in capital projects over 10 years using tax revenues to leverage other funding sources.

Measure V is supported by current City Councilmembers Richard Bloom and Bobby Shriver, State Assemblymember Fran Pavley, and Heal the Bay Executive Director Mark Gold, who argue that the bay is not only “one of the major reasons why we love to live here” but also “the economic engine for the community,” and that even without this measure the City will still have to fund the Plan “but the money will have to come from general funds at the expense of fundamental city services.”

Opposition to the measure comes from former Recreation and Parks Commissioner June J. Coleman, Don Gray of BaySmart.org, former Charter Review Commissioner Peter Tigler, Mathew L. Millen of Citizens Against Unfair Taxes and William A. Bauer of Citizens Initiative to Preserve the Piers, who argue that this regional issue demands regional solutions, and urge “a real plan where the polluters pay, not those working hardest to clean it up.”

But for two “undecided” candidates, this measure is supported by all of the City Council candidates who responded to the Mirror’s survey, including all three incumbents running for another term.

MEASURE BB

This school bond issue is titled “Santa Monica-Malibu Schools Safety and Repair Measure,” and states its purpose in the subtitle: “To improve health, safety, class instruction by • Repairing, renovating outdated classrooms, bathrooms, plumbing, leaky roofs, computer technology, fire safety equipment; • Improving handicapped student accessibility; • Earthquake-retrofitting classrooms; • Removing asbestos and mold; • Upgrading, acquiring, constructing, repairing and equipping classrooms, science labs, local neighborhood schools, sites and facilities.”

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District proposes to “issue $268 million of bonds at legal rates, with guaranteed financial audits, citizen oversight and no money for administrators’ salaries.”

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