November’s midterm elections are fast approaching, and Berkeley voters should be preparing to take on active roles in determining California’s future.
There are 11 state propositions on this year’s ballot. These measures cover a range of key issues, from veteran housing to funding for children’s hospitals. Proposition 10 repeals the controversial and antiquated Costa–Hawkins Rental Housing Act, which has disadvantaged renters in the city of Berkeley for decades. There’s even a proposition about time itself. Voters will not be weighing in, however, on Proposition 9 — a divisive proposal to split California into three states that was removed from the ballot.
These upcoming elections are a time for Berkeley residents, along with all Californians, to enact significant change in the state they call home. So if you’re unsure about how to vote, you’re in luck: The Daily Californian’s editorial board did the research for you.
Proposition 1 — YES
By voting yes on Proposition 1, Californians will support veterans, working families, seniors and people with disabilities — housing-insecure groups that are too often overlooked. Also known as the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018, the proposition would authorize $4 billion in general obligation bonds for state multifamily housing, infrastructure programs, homeownership opportunities and housing loans for U.S. veterans.
One caveat is that the structure of the general obligation bond requires taxpayers to pay interest on the bonds in the long run. Because California had $74 billion in general obligation bond debt as of December 2017, the Daily Cal’s editorial board does not believe the structure of this measure is ideal — but the acute housing needs of veterans and other communities ultimately outweigh any financial challenges that the measure may present.
Vote yes on Prop. 1.
Proposition 2 — YES
Since 2004, the Mental Health Services Act, or Proposition 63, has generated billions of dollars for mental health services. Prop. 63 raised these funds by imposing a 1 percent tax on individuals in the state who make more than $1 million annually. Now, it’s time to spend a portion of these funds to help some of California’s most vulnerable people — the state’s homeless population.
By voting yes on Prop. 2, California residents will fund the No Place Like Home Program, which provides resources and permanent housing for individuals who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of chronic homelessness. Prop. 2 authorizes the state to sell up to $2 billion in revenue bonds — bonds that would eventually be repaid with Mental Health Services Act funding.
If Californians are serious about solving the mental health crisis plaguing the state’s homeless communities, they must acknowledge that housing these communities is a necessary first step.
Vote yes on Prop. 2.
Proposition 3 — NO
Proposition 3 includes some superb provisions: drought resilience improvements, clean water supplies and safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities. Unfortunately, these components only account for the use of a small fraction of the $8.9 billion bond authorized by Prop. 3. The majority of the funding would have no oversight from the state Legislature and would be directed to state agencies, infrastructure repairs and water projects benefiting commercial agriculture.
While the state desperately needs to improve its water management, this proposition shifts the costs for these projects onto the general public rather than onto the largely private beneficiaries. In the past few years, California voters have approved the allocation of billions in bond money toward similar initiatives. This year, Californians should hold out for more targeted, efficient measures in the future that would not divert taxpayer money to pork-barrel projects and private commercial interests.
Vote no on Prop. 3.
Proposition 4 — YES
Proposition 4 would support the future of California — its children.
Children’s hospitals across California provide care for more than 2 million sick children each year, with services ranging from cancer treatment to organ transplants. With Prop. 4, the state could sell $1.5 billion in general obligation bonds to construct, expand, renovate and equip these hospitals with the resources they need.
California has passed similar propositions in the past in 2004 and 2008. And while these propositions led to significant improvements in hospitals (the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, for one, used the money to construct a new, seismically safe outpatient center), there is still much more to be done.
Despite the financial hit of paying off $80 million annually over the next 35 years, the cost seems well worth the reward — granting hospitals lifesaving funds.
Vote yes on Prop. 4.
Proposition 5 — NO
Proposition 5 may seem like an inclusive initiative, but in reality, it would merely raise government costs without any of the intended benefits.
If passed, Prop. 5 would make all homeowners over 55, severely disabled homeowners and people with contaminated or disaster-destroyed property eligible for property tax savings if they moved to a different home. While this appears positive in intent, the cutoff age of 55 is too young for a blanket protection — especially when there are already some protections in place for senior citizens and people with disabilities.
And the proposition wouldn’t even create new homes to address the growing housing crisis. Instead, it would cause schools and local governments each to lose more than $100 million in annual property taxes, which would grow to roughly $1 billion per year — a steep cost for an unnecessary initiative.
Vote no on Prop. 5.
Proposition 6 — NO
The gas tax may be a burden to some Californians, but repealing it entirely would be far more detrimental to the state population. And that’s just what Proposition 6 would do.
The proposition would repeal a 12-cent-per-gallon tax on gas that funds roads and transit. But if anything, the tax isn’t enough — before the 2017 hike, the tax hadn’t been raised in decades and, consequently, road repair and transportation projects have been deprived of adequate funding. Many of California’s roads are in desperate need of repairs — a 2015 report showed that 99 percent of the roads in Monterey County needed repairs. The tax is simply a necessity to maintain the state’s transportation safety and development.
Not to mention that repealing last year’s gas tax increase in transportation-related fees would cause the state government to lose $5.1 billion annually in forgone tax revenue — a substantial figure. To vote yes on Prop. 6 would be equivalent to throwing good money down the drain, depriving the state of much-needed transportation services.
Vote no on Prop. 6.
Proposition 7 — YES
For nearly 70 years, Californians have been shifting their clocks twice a year for the sake of a system that is not only disruptive but may also cause public health detriments and increased energy costs. That’s why Proposition 7, which would ask the state and federal government to move California to daylight saving time year-round, was introduced.
While the implementation of Prop. 7 might not go smoothly — it would necessitate a scheduling overhaul for interstate businesses and airlines — it’s a step in the right direction. Moreover, many of the arguments against this measure, such as school and work commute safety, are more the fault of ineffective local governments than of the time zone itself.
Several Western states have considered similar changes to daylight saving time, and Prop. 7’s passage would signal to the federal government that tradition is no reason to stick to a system that’s ultimately harmful.
Vote yes on Prop. 7.
Proposition 8 — NO
While Proposition 8 is admirable in its efforts to force California dialysis clinics to allocate more funding toward patient care, the Daily Cal’s editorial board advocates voting no on this measure.
The measure puts a cap on dialysis center revenues at 115 percent of certain costs related to patient care. Any additional revenue generated by dialysis clinics would be refunded to patients or their private insurance companies each year, and clinics that do not issue required refunds within 210 days after the end of the fiscal year would be fined. This could ultimately — and counterintuitively — lead many dialysis clinics in California to close, making patient care less efficient and more expensive.
While keeping clinics accountable and making health care more accessible are crucial to California’s long-term sustainability, this measure does not adequately achieve either.
Vote no on Prop. 8.
Proposition 10 — YES
Let’s face it: There’s no issue more pressing than housing in Berkeley. College students, already bearing the brunt of tuition, are faced with the added pressure of finding apartments that don’t completely break the bank. That’s tough to do when the Costa–Hawkins Rental Housing Act limits the kinds of rent control the city can establish, allowing landlords to raise the rent to the rent ceiling anytime after a fixed-term lease expires.
Proposition 10 would repeal Costa–Hawkins and allow local governments to expand rent control. Cities that desperately need affordable housing would be able to curb astronomical prices on their own terms. It’s true that enacting rent control might put a damper on development, but making housing affordable should be a top priority for everyone.
Costa-Hawkins has been a plague on housing in California since its inception in 1995. California, it’s time to tear it down once and for all.
Vote yes on Prop. 10.
Proposition 11 — YES
Proposition 11, known as the Paramedic Break Time proposition, establishes as law a long-standing practice in the emergency responder industry — requiring private EMTs and paramedics to remain reachable on their breaks in case of an emergency. It’s a necessary proposition that could help save countless lives.
Breaks are fundamental to worker rights, but paramedics face extenuating circumstances. If this proposition isn’t passed, ambulance companies will be required to provide EMTs and paramedics with uninterrupted breaks, which could potentially prevent a patient from receiving urgent care.
Prop. 11 does account for the importance of worker rights — it mandates that the worker receive compensation if interrupted during their break. The proposition also requires employers to provide mental health services for both EMTs and paramedics.
It’s critical that paramedics remain reachable for life-or-death emergencies. And this proposition ensures that paramedics can do their job to the best of their abilities.
Vote yes on Prop. 11.
Proposition 12 — YES
Proposition 12 seeks to improve living conditions for certain farm animals. If approved, the initiative would enforce specific size requirements for cages and would require that hens be raised completely cage-free by 2022. Voting yes is the best option — but a lot of work still needs to be done before California can claim that it has adequately addressed the issue of animal living conditions.
Prop. 12 would correct ambiguity in Proposition 2 from 2008, which wasn’t specific enough on cage requirements. But the proposition delays cage bans for hens — and in the meantime, the minimum requirement for cage sizes is only 1 foot by 1 foot.
This initiative is a step toward more humane treatment for farm animals, but it leaves a lot to be desired. Prop. 12 is better than nothing, but voters can and should continue to demand better legislation on this issue.
Vote yes on Prop. 12.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.