Long Beach residents voted down Measure I, a citywide parcel property tax used to buy bonds that would have paid for drastic improvements to Long Beach’s infrastructure, Tuesday.  Polls report a 52.4% approval, but two-thirds was needed to pass Measure I.  The measure would have allowed the city to purchase $571 million in bonds to be used for improvements to city streets, sidewalks, sewers and storm drains, parks, libraries and public safety facilities.

Long Beach property owners would have been taxed an additional $10 per month ($120/year) for an estimated 30 years or more.  The amount was likely to rise with inflation costs.

Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster introduced Measure I in July and campaigned tirelessly for its cause, speaking at community meetings whenever possible and asking voters for support.  It was publicly opposed by the Long Beach Taxpayers Association and others, including former Long Beach mayor Eunice Sato.  At a party for Measure I last night, the Mayor explained that the last few weeks had shown positive signs.

“We just felt that people were understanding how important this is and how much we need this,” he said before enough precincts had reported to predict an outcome.  Mayor Foster estimates that he gave 83 presentations on Measure I in seven and-a-half weeks.

“It’s exhausting,” he said.  “I’m very tired.  And it’s not just me.  My staff has put their heart and soul into this and win or lose, you have to give it to them for that.”

Mayor Foster (right) and supporters including Vice Mayor Val Lerch (left) check early returns online.  Photo by Russell Conroy

Some criticized the Mayor for introducing the plan without consulting the public or requesting feedback, while others were not comfortable with the long-term bond repayments, or the feasibility that the City Council could divert Measure I funds into the city general fund.

“We were outspent over 60 to 1, and it just shows that this city can’t be bought from outside, and that voters are hungry for fiscal discipline,” read a released statement by Randy Terrell, consultant for the No on Measure I campaign, and Long Beach Account Manager for Svorinich Government Affairs.

Some opponents of the measure have been working on a plan that they believe will more affectively achieve the goals of Measure I, which is open to the public at ABetterPlanForLongBeach.com.  Supporters plan to take the idea to community groups for input and support.

“Now the hard work begins on an alternative infrastructure plan, a better plan for Long Beach that is more cost effective and can be accepted by residents and businesses,” said Terrell.

By Ryan ZumMallen, Managing Editor