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Modest measures: Shedding light on the Nov. 6 ballot's lesser-known propositions

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When SLO County voters head to the polls Nov. 6, they're going to have a lot of decisions to make.

In addition to voting for candidates running for state and local offices, as well as local ballot measures, those voters will also have to decide whether to approve or shoot down 11 statewide propositions addressing a wide range of issues.

But not all ballot measures are created equal, at least not in terms of the time they've been getting in the public spotlight prior to the election. Some of the propositions have become highly visible, with supporters and opponents pouring millions of dollars into television ads and mailers to sway voters to their side. The expensive public battles have pushed some measures—like Proposition 6 to repeal the gas tax increase—into the spotlight, leaving others to linger in the shadows.

"The one we are really focused on, worked on, and contributed money to, was the No on Proposition 6 [campaign]," said Dave Mullinax, the Central Coast's regional public affairs manager for the League of California Cities.

While the public battle over the gas tax repeal is the organization's most visible effort, Mullinax said the League is also asking voters to support three other measures on the November ballot. Those include Proposition 1, which would allow the state to issue $4 billion in general obligation bonds to fund affordable housing and the state's veterans homeownership program, and Proposition 2, which would allow the state to spend funds generated by the state's "millionaire tax" on housing for people in need of mental health services. The group has also endorsed Proposition 3, which would provide $8.9 billion in bonds for water-related infrastructure projects.

"These are all public policy issues that we are facing, and there are no easy answers," Mullinax said. "But they don't have the juice and money behind campaigns on both sides."

The League isn't the only organization with its eye on some of the election's lesser-known ballot measures. Five Cities Homeless Coalition Executive Director Janna Nichols said the organization's board hadn't taken an official stance on Proposition 2, noting that affordable housing was difficult to secure and maintain.

"I am cautious about speaking on behalf of the organization on this issue," Nichols wrote in an email response to New Times. "What I will say is that I believe that more resources dedicated to creating affordable housing, especially for those with disabilities (physical or mental), is desperately needed."

Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) is a social, economic, and environmental justice organization that operates in in Ventura, SLO, and Santa Barbara counties. CAUSE Policy and Communications Director Lucas Zucker said the organization was focused on two measures. One of these is Proposition 10, which would allow California counties and cities to pass rent control ordinances.

"We are an organization that works with low-income families and the middle class, and they are being pushed out of the area by rising housing costs and increasing rents," Zucker said. "Prop. 10 would really be a huge, historic change and really give cities a tool in their toolbox to tackle the housing crisis."

Zucker also said that the organization was concerned about Proposition 5, a measure that would allow homeowners who are older than 55 or severely disabled to move and carry their low property tax payments to a home anywhere in the state, as many times as they want when they sell their home and purchase a new residence. Opponents like Zucker say that the measure would cut up to $1 billion in funding for public schools, police, and other services.

"This could be a really destructive proposition," Zucker said.

Andrea Seastrand, president of the Central Coast Taxpayers Association, is on the other side of the fence when it comes to Proposition 5. Similar to other supporters, she argued that passing it would allow seniors and the disabled to purchase smaller, safer, and more practical homes, something she said could also help combat the state's housing crunch.

"This would encourage seniors to sell their larger homes, and families could move into them," she said.

While Seastrand and the association backed Proposition 5, she said the organization was still focusing the majority of its energy on advocating for the passage of Proposition 6. Part of the reason she believes that the measure has gotten so much attention is that the gas tax the measure seeks to repeal is something Californians experience every day.

"This was something very visible to people," she said. "It's a real pocketbook issue."

Regardless of how much attention they get, the ballot measures' fates will only be decided after voters step into booths across the state on Nov. 6.

For a full listing of the state's 11 propositions, visit the California Secretary of State's website at voterguide.sos.ca.gov/propositions. Δ

Reach Staff Writer Chris McGuinness at cmcguinness@newtimesslo.com.

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