Mayor Robert Garcia at a Measure H rally in February. Photo: Stephanie Rivera
In a tight election night vote that went into the early hours of Wednesday morning before the final vote was tallied, Measure S, the sales-tax increase to fund homeless issues, was seemingly awarded a slim victory by a less than one percent margin.
The measure, needing two-thirds voter support to pass, received 67.4 percent after all precincts had been accounted for around 1:30AM Wednesday morning. Given the small margin, the final vote tally could change depending on vote by mail ballots and provisional ballots yet to be counted.
The tax is anticipated to generate around $355 million annually through a quarter-cent sales tax hike over the next 10 years.
However, due to laws capping the amount of taxes that can be levied by local legislators and other recent voter-approved sales tax increases passed in November, Long Beach taxpayers won’t pay the countywide tax until year six of the tax. The sum will put a big dent in, but won’t eliminate the large gap between available funding and the over $450 million in annual need to address the county’s growing homelessness issues.
The funds will go to the communities that need it, not necessarily those that are paying into it over the next decade. Long Beach could be a big recipient of that aid as it is the leader of the second largest continuum of care program in the region and could receive tens of millions of dollars to help bolster those programs.
It’s estimated that over 47,000 people in the county currently suffer from some phase of homelessness, and in Long Beach, that number stood at 2,345 unsheltered persons according to the city’s 2015 biennial homeless count figures.
The funds produced by the measure will go toward funding mental health and substance abuse initiatives in the county as well as health care, job training, rental subsidies, emergency affordable housing and other homeless outreach services for at-risk populations.
With no local races happening inside Long Beach, many elected officials in the city campaigned on behalf of Measure H, and to a lesser extent Measure S—the measure would have imposed a two-year moratorium on housing constructing in Los Angeles—urging voters to get out the vote.
According to the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder’s office, just over 593,000 ballots were counted as of election night, meaning just a small fraction of the county’s 5.25 million registered voters took part in Tuesday night’s election.
Several races for mayor and city council positions countywide were decided by less than 100 votes, including the race for mayor in Gardena being decided by 12 votes and a council position in Bell having a winning margin of five votes.
Measure H was among those that eked out a victory Wednesday morning, something that will provide cities like Long Beach, which are highly impacted by the state’s growing homeless problem, much needed funds to provide shelter and mental health treatment options that are currently out of reach financially.
“Ladies and gents!!! Los Angeles County has a soul!” exclaimed Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce in a Facebook post as the county’s reporting inched toward 100 percent of precincts counted. “Thankful for the vision and leadership that made this happen.”
Mayor Robert Garcia who was one of the loudest advocates in the city for the county measure to pass, like many of his colleagues, closely monitored the results of the measure as the votes were tabulated by the county registrar. In a morning post to Twitter, Garcia said with the victory of the measure H campaign, it is now time to get to work.
“Feeling incredible joy knowing that LA County had the compassion to pass YesOnH,” Garcia wrote. “This was such an important win, now let’s get to work!”
Feeling incredible joy knowing that LA County had the compassion to pass @YesOnH. This was such an important win, now let’s get to work!
— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarciaLB) March 8, 2017