There were seven ballot measures for the Ballot Simplification Committee to prepare for the November 6 ballot. Some were fairly non-controversial and the drafts for the Voter’s Guide went rather quickly. One of these is the measure to consolidate odd-year municipal elections. Currently the busy elections—the ones every registered voter notices—are the ones in which federal and state officials are elected. These occur during even-numbered years, 2012, 2014, and so forth. Municipal officials including the Mayor, Sheriff, District Attorney, City Attorney and Treasurer are elected during odd-numbered years, 2013, 2015 etc. The next election for City Attorney and Treasurer will be held in 2013 and the next one for Mayor, Sheriff and District Attorney will be in 2015. Each of these officials is elected for the four-year term.
A Charter Amendment which will be brought to voters in the City this fall proposes that in the election of 2013, the City Attorney and Treasurer each be elected for two-year terms. Then in 2015, all of the City officials—Mayor, Sheriff, District Attorney, City Attorney, and Treasurer will be elected. There would be no election scheduled for 2017 and every fourth year after that. The Committee tweaked some language in the ballot measure to bring it down to an eighth-grade reading level, the standard goal for ballot measures. There were no appeals from proponents or opponents of the measure, so the draft turned into the final approved digest.
A second Charter Amendment deals with providing affordable housing for low-income and moderate-income households. Currently the city supports a number of affordable housing programs. It also requires private residential developers to pay a fee to support low-income housing or to make some of their housing units affordable. Recent federal cutbacks and reductions in State funding have decreased the funding available for the City’s affordable housing programs. This proposal would amend the Charter to establish a Housing Trust Fund to pay for these programs. The City would contribute $20 million to the Fund in 2013 and in the following ten years, this amount would increase by $2.8 million each year.
This Fund would be used to build, purchase, and improve affordable housing; institute a down payment loan program for moderate-income homebuyers; and initiate a program to help eligible households to avoid foreclosure or eviction. The proposition would also change the affordable housing requirements for private residential developments. The proposition would also authorize the development of up to 30,000 low-income rental units, although this provision would not take effect until the development was approved by voters in a separate ballot measure.
These two measures were the only two Charter Amendments brought to the Committee. The other ballot measures to be considered were ordinances dealing with taxes and the water system.
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