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City homeless measure tops local ballot choices on Nov. 8


Several city of Los Angeles ballot measures will be considered on Nov. 8, the most pressing of which is Proposition HHH, officially the Homelessness Reduction and Prevention, Housing and Facilities Bond.

Also on the ballot will be Ordinance JJJ (Affordable Housing and Labor Standards), Charter Amendment RRR (Department of Water and Power), and Charter Amendment SSS (police, fire department and airport peace officer pensions).

Proposition HHH seeks to provide affordable housing for the city’s rapidly growing homeless population by the issuance of $1.2 billion in general obligation bonds coupled with citizen oversight and annual financial audits. The Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority estimates that there are about 26,000 homeless persons on the city’s streets each night, reportedly representing a growth of 11 percent since 2015. Because homeless encampments have increased throughout the city, a lack of affordable housing—along with low vacancy rates at hotels/motels and rising rent prices—have placed more persons at risk of being homeless.

Proponents of Proposition HHH want to construct 13,000 units of new housing, including 10,000 units of supportive housing. For instance, “supportive housing” (or units for individuals and families who are homeless or chronically homeless) will be directed toward those persons who (1) are of “extremely low income,” and (2) “very low income” and/or low as defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the County of Los Angeles.

Temporary shelter, storage and shower facilities will be used by the city (and other public, non-profit and/or private entities) to provide supportive services or goods to those homeless persons as well as individuals “at risk” of being homeless. Also, mental health care, drug and alcohol treatment, and other necessary services to homeless persons will be included within the proposition.

If approved by two-thirds of voters, the measure will require preparation of an annual plan that prioritizes funding for supportive housing and facilities and the necessary bond issuance to finance those developments. The Citizens Oversight and Administrative Oversight committees will be in charge of monitoring the bond program, and all annual financial audits will be available for public review.

Ordinance JJJ, if approved by a majority vote, would require that (1) specific residential development projects (i.e. the Jordan Downs Redevelopment Project) provide for affordable housing and comply with prevailing wage, local hiring and other labor standards, (2) require the city to assess the impacts of community plan changes on affordable housing and local jobs, (3) create an affordable housing incentive program for developments near major transit stops and (4) any other changes necessary to comply with the new requirements.

The percentage and type of affordable units required for each housing project will reportedly vary depending on the amendment or change approved for the specific project. A labor-related provision within the proposed ordinance would require a “good faith” effort that at least 30 percent of all construction worker hours in a project be performed by permanent residents of the city, of which a minimum of 10 percent be performed by so-called “transitional workers” who may face socioeconomic obstacles or other barriers to employment and who reside within a minimum five-mile radius of the project site. Other requirements include payment of certain wages, and all necessary licensing, certification and apprenticeship requirements.

Charter Amendment RRR, if approved by a majority of voters, would amend the Los Angeles City Charter as it relates to the Department of Water and Power’s governance and administrative policies. Proponents of the amendment want to increase oversight, transparency and work to better “streamline” operations at the agency which has witnessed over the past few years mounting public complaints ranging from inaccurate billing to an aging, crumbling infrastructure.

The measure would increase the board of water and power commissioners from five to seven members, shorten the board term from five years to four years, require board members to have experience in the areas of utility management and environment policy, and establish a removal and/or appeal process for board members.

As well, the measure would provide that beginning on Jan. 1, 2020, the DWP board shall submit a four-year strategic/revenue requirement and rate-setting plan—including potential rates—to the city council and mayor’s office for consideration. Also, a new monthly billing cycle would be implemented no later than July 1, 2020.

A second charter amendment, SSS, would (1) enroll new [Los Angeles World Airport] peace officers into “Tier 6” of the fire and police department pensions system, (2) would allow current airport peace officers to transfer into Tier 6 from the city employee retirement system at their own expense, and (3) permit new airport police chiefs to enroll in LACERS (Los Angeles City Employees Retirement System).

Presently, all airport peace officers who perform police and firefighting duties for Los Angeles World Airports are members of the city’s civilian retirement plan. Sworn LAPD officers, LAFD firefighters and paramedics, and Harbor Department peace officers are members of the sworn retirement system officially known as the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions Plan (LAFPP).

If approved by a majority of voters, the proposed charter amendment would automatically enroll in Tier 6 of the LAFPP Airport Peace Officers who are appointed on or after Jan. 7, 2018 to perform police and firefighting duties for the Airports Department. Also, any airport chief of police officer appointed on or after Jan. 7, 2018 (who is not already a current or retired member of LAFPP) may opt to join LACERS instead or LAFPP. This latter option is only available to the LAPD, LAFD and Harbor Department chiefs.