Patterico's Pontifications

10/28/2018

Ballot Propositions, Have We Got Ballot Propositions

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:27 pm

[guest post by JVW]

One week from Tuesday, voters will go to the polls across this great land to determine which party controls each house of Congress, who sits in the governor’s office in 36 states (and three territories!), and the ideological make-up of the various state legislatures, many of which have some interesting ramifications for the national agenda.

Just over half of our country’s states offer ballot initiatives and/or referenda, an exercise in direct democracy whereby the citizens can vote on whether or not to enact or eliminate laws. California, which enacted the referendum and initiative option over a century ago during the Progressive Era, traditionally offers a whole panoply of ideas (good and bad) for citizens of the Golden State to consider. Accordingly, here is this year’s smörgåsbord (I so love using special keyboard characters) along with my thoughts on the best way to dispense with them (and believe me, most of them ought to be dispensed with).

[Note: I am only going to give very brief summaries of each ballot initiative, and they will no doubt be colored by my own biases and ideology. If you want a full accounting of the language and intricacies of each individual proposition, you can access the voter guide at the California Secretary of State’s website.]

Prop 1: Authorizes $4 billion in bonds for funding assistance housing programs for veterans, farm workers, people with disabilities, and the homeless.
Prop 2: Permits using existing money earmarked for housing for the mentally ill to finance $2 billion in bonds to build more housing for the homeless.
Prop 3: Issue $9 billion in bonds for various infrastructure projects, most of which have to do with providing fresh water.
Prop 4: Issue $1.5 billion in bonds to build new and renovate existing children’s hospitals, which is a huge boon to the construction industry.

Are you noticing a trend here? One of the best and worst aspects of the whole California set-up is the incessant proposal of bond issues every election. It’s a good thing, because California requires that the citizens assent to the issuance of any bonds; it’s a bad thing because our lazy and venal legislature now uses the mechanism of bonds to fund projects that properly ought to come from general funds.

Additionally, there is no guarantee that the bond money will meet the stated goals of the proposition, nor is there any accountability should they fall short. This should be a huge red flag to Californians. Two years ago, Los Angeles voters passed Measure HHH, a $1.2 billion tax initiative promising to build 10,000 new housing units for homeless Angelenos over the next decade. But an audit performed this past summer now suggests that as few as 6,000 units might be completed before funding dries up. It’s important to take a jaundiced view of the promises that government spending advocates make, since they are so very rarely realized in full.

Finally, the whole manipulativeness of the bond structure is obscene, with Prop 1 being the worst offender. There was no real need to include veterans in the Prop 1 list. They already qualify for low-interest home loans under what used to be known as the Cal-Vet program, with the loan repayments by the recipients providing the funding to pay off the loans in full without any taxpayer contributions. The state could easily increase the amount of money available to vets, but Prop 1 proponents are using veterans to cudgel us into adding yet more money for the homeless and for lower-income families. The same goes for pleading for money for children’s hospitals, which just like building housing for the homeless is a huge boon to the construction industry, who just happens to be a major supporter of all these bond issues. Funny how that works, no?

The legislative analyst tells us that debt service on the bonds is mostly manageable under the present rate of general fund revenue that is coming into the state. In other words, since the economy is good we can continue to issue bonds and the debt service ratio will peak at 4.5% of the general fund revenue (contrasted to the 2009 recession when debt service represented 6% of revenue) then level off at around 4%. However, that assumes that the economy will not go into recession and that revenues won’t drop, two assumptions that are rather hard to swallow. It also doesn’t account for future bonds which will doubtlessly be proposed. We’re spending too much already; let’s put the kibosh on the bonds for at least a couple of years, at least until we account for whether previous bonds accomplished what they promised to do.

I plan to vote no on Props 1 through 4.

Prop 5: Allows all homeowners over age 55 to transfer their lower property tax payment from their former home when they purchase a more expensive home.

Currently, several counties in the state already have this law on the books, so Prop 5 would make it statewide policy. There is a legitimate argument to be made for this, but I am tired of seeing tax breaks go to senior citizens (who vote disproportionately to their share of the population) instead of young first-time homeowners and families. In addition this will cost the state an estimated $1 billion in tax revenue, all of which will be pocketed by greedy geezers just as the state’s population continues to get older. I’m voting no.

Prop 6: Repeals the gas tax enacted by the legislature and signed into law by the governor last year. It would reduce state tax revenue by about $5.1 billion, money ostensibly used to repair roads and support public transportation.

I’m all for good roads and clean buses, but with the tax-and-spend Democrats dominating this state, repeal of the gas tax would be a shot across Gavin Newsom’s bow suggesting to him that he can’t expect to extort unlimited money from the residents of and visitors to the Golden State. It is also a giant middle finger to the public employee unions, who have funded a mindless campaign against this initiative suggesting that all of our homes will burn down because the fire departments won’t have enough money. This will be a rare yes vote on an initiative for me.

Prop 7: Would put us on permanent daylight savings time, subject to federal approval.

I’m not a morning person, so during the winter hours I would be willing to sacrifice the sun not coming out until 8:00 am if it meant we could have the sunset pushed back to 6:00 pm. The main argument against this seems to be that school kids would be going to school in the dark, but I’m all for toughening up the little dears. I’ll probably vote yes unless I am in a really grumpy mood and just automatically revert to a no vote.

Prop 8: Regulating the amount that kidney dialysis clinics can charge for treatment.

Nurses, like teachers, cops, firefighters, and other public employees are necessary and valuable members of the community. I’m sure most people have stories of a hospital stay for you or a loved one that was made infinitely more bearable by a kind, caring, professional nurse. God bless ’em; I truly mean that.

But that said, the California chapter of the American Nurses Association is one of the most avidly leftist and obnoxious unions in the entire state. Years ago, their Marxist leader formed key alliances with all of the other public employee unions, and ever since the organization has been a major supporter of private sector regulation and an untrammeled flow of public funding towards its members. The ANA has been having trouble organizing workers at dialysis clinics, so in response they have sponsored this measure to exact revenge. Yes, the medical industry has dumped massive amounts of money to defeat this measure, and I don’t like their ads any more than I like the pro-regulation side’s ads. But at the end of the day I reject government manipulation of markets. This deserves a very emphatic no vote.

Prop 9: Split California into three separate states.

This initiative is so stupid that a court yanked it off of the ballot.

Prop 10: Allows the entire state to enact rent control policies.

Rent control is one of those awful ideas supported by people who despise free markets, want to be generous with someone else’s money, and have no concept of unintended consequences. You know what cities have lots of rent control units? San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica do, to name a few. Do you think that it is easy to find affordable lodging in any of those cities? I truly hope this mindless idea goes down to a much-deserved defeat.

Prop 11: Requires private-sector ambulances to remain on-call during work breaks.

There is no formal opposition to this measure so it’s likely to pass overwhelmingly, but I can’t help but see it as a solution in search of a problem. I’m not aware of a bunch of people bleeding it out in the street because the private company EMTs are finishing up their combo meal at Del Taco. I think I’ll vote no just to be ornery, but if you want to vote yes then I’ll certainly understand.

Prop 12: Increases the minimum living space requirement for farm animals who provide meat and eggs, and prohibits the selling of products in the state from animals whose confinement doesn’t meet California’s requirements. Mandates that by 2022 all eggs sold must be laid in a cage-free environment.

We passed a proposition ten years ago that required these animals be given enough space to turn-around, lie down, stand up, and extend their limbs. This initiative would actually specify minimum square footage for these animals. This is one of those weird initiatives which are supported by some mainstream animal rights folks, but opposed by a more loopy sect of animal rights activists who think it’s a trojan horse for continued cruelty. The state estimates that oversight might cost up to $10 million annually, and the price of meat and eggs will almost certainly increase. I’m voting no.

So there you have it: one man’s ill-informed and reactionary opinions. Feel free to light into me in the comments.

– JVW

102 Responses to “Ballot Propositions, Have We Got Ballot Propositions”

  1. I’m especially interested in counter-arguments to my position on Proposition 5 (allowing seniors to transfer in their lower property tax bills when they purchase new homes). I find it to be ridiculously unfair, but feel free to tell me why I am wrong.

    JVW (42615e)

  2. we had 13 ballot propositions, of all stripes, some more ridiculous than others, yes the dems would not allow their monopoly on power, to be challenged hence the central valley is an orphan,

    narciso (d1f714)

  3. Note: I made a slight edit to some ambiguity in my description of Prop 1 above. I changed the nebulous term “assistance” to “housing programs” for clarity. The original is struck-out above.

    JVW (42615e)

  4. Usual approach is to see what progressive organizations want you to vote for and do the opposite.

    In this case, they seem split and genuinely ignorant in some cases. That’s because they didn’t sponsor it.

    Oddly enough a private ambulance company is the sole sponsor. Weird huh?

    Here is one take that gets closer to the truth. It’s still a messy one to figure out which is the problem with dumping weird issues on the ballot.

    https://missionlocal.org/2018/10/prop-11-ambulance-company-has-spent-nearly-22-million-on-state-ballot-measure-that-could-shield-it-from-lawsuits/

    PrincetonAl (25ff12)

  5. Sorry forgot to say my above post was on Prop 11.

    On Prop 5, it basically rewards longtime property holders with a permanent tax discount. The limited good news is it reduces the incentive to stay in a home that no longer serves your needs for tax purposes. So it increases geographic mobility.

    But it does so only because the existing law distorts the market. So this just creates an entitled group of long-term tax beneficiaries for no logical reason. Just a randomly entitled class.

    And if you moved last year, you can’t be in it. Tough luck, Sherlock.

    So yeah it makes no sense despite “solving” part of a problem that government created in the first place. Typical – create a distorted market with regulation and taxes and then “fix it” in a messed up way with more regulation and distortion.

    PrincetonAl (25ff12)

  6. well it can’t be helped, some people get on the lifeboat, or they all drown,

    narciso (d1f714)

  7. Direct democracy is for the Swiss. Not for Californians.

    nk (dbc370)

  8. I think the Daylight Saving Time idea is bad, it puts us at odds with the rest of the country, and there will be associated costs for no good reason.

    Dave (9664fc)

  9. I think it should be eliminated altogether nationwide. It serves no purpose other than a blatant display of raw government power — making the people change their clocks twice a year. Next thing you know, they’ll make Swedish the official language, and make us wear our underwear on the outside.

    nk (dbc370)

  10. Thanks for the post, JVW. Pretty sure your voting tendencies confirm you are a genuine political contrarian of the red-stripe variety. You should want to spend your money and everybody else’s money on noble projects!

    It’s interesting to see that there are a number of Yes on 6 signs in my neighborhood, and several Vote for Cox, too.

    Which reminds me of today’s side-by-side profiles of Gavin Newsom and John Cox in the Los Angeles Times. Interesting headline contrast:

    Gavin Newsom is a career public servant and multimillionaire businessman. Here’s how he has made his wealth

    and:

    Before he launched a bid for California governor, Republican John Cox made a fortune in real estate

    Dana (023079)

  11. I think the Daylight Saving Time idea is bad, it puts us at odds with the rest of the country, and there will be associated costs for no good reason.

    What associated costs are you thinking of? Here’s a provocative idea: since the frequency of traffic accidents is higher in the evening commute than it is in the morning commute, perhaps having an extra hour of sunlight in the evening hours will lead to a decrease. It would be interesting to compare how year-round daylight savings works in Arizona and what they experience from it.

    JVW (42615e)

  12. Gavin Newsom is a career public servant and multimillionaire businessman. Here’s how he has made his wealth. . .

    A “career public servant” who managed to get rich. You don’t say.

    JVW (42615e)

  13. I love your opposition to the property tax break for older landed citizens. They are, collectively, the ones responsible for the outrageous government that’s been created out there. Make them pay for it.

    Here in Georgia there is a question of allowing school districts to, of themselves, create new sales taxes, even if the local councils would refuse to assent. As an FYI – Kemp is in big trouble. Abrams is seen as a nice Auntie Santa Claus. she is feeding on the discontent of various groups who have been denied government largesse due to the years of relative austerity here. His other problem is that bogus claims of denial of suffrage. I’ve yet to see any electronic media debunk the charges nor have I seen any of them outlining Abrams manifestly radical political career and aims.

    The biggest challenge, especially this time, is the margin of cheating will be large and it will not be successfully challenged. Because, you see, Kemp has illegally denied minority suffrage.

    He is in quite the box.

    Ed from SFV (6d42fa)

  14. I think it should be eliminated altogether nationwide. It serves no purpose other than a blatant display of raw government power — making the people change their clocks twice a year. Next thing you know, they’ll make Swedish the official language, and make us wear our underwear on the outside.

    nk (dbc370) — 10/28/2018 @ 5:01 pm

    I agree, but this is not what the proposition does. It puts us in permanent daylight saving time opposite of what other states or countries are doing. If it put is in daylight standard time then I would be ready to vote for it.

    Tanny O'Haley (8a06bc)

  15. Here in Georgia there is a question of allowing school districts to, of themselves, create new sales taxes, even if the local councils would refuse to assent.

    From what I understand, the way that ends up working in practice is that upper-income and middle-income neighborhoods end up raising their sales tax in order to help fund schools, but lower-income traditionally do not pass these sort of measures. I recall reading about a study years back that claimed that wealthy Republican districts were more willing to tax themselves on behalf of schools than minority Democrat districts were. The rich do indeed get richer.

    Sorry to hear about Abrams. I assume that the Georgia legislature will remain relatively conservative, so hopefully they can tamp down some of her more extravagant promises and tether her to reality. But maybe Atlanta suburbanites need to have their eyes opened to the kind of nonsense a progressive Democrat governor proposes.

    JVW (42615e)

  16. No worries, Tanny. If the effect is to change California’s time zone, then the federal government will not allow it.

    nk (dbc370)

  17. If it put is in daylight standard time then I would be ready to vote for it.

    Good Lord, the sun would rise at 5:15 am during summer hours. Vampires like me can’t stand for that.

    JVW (42615e)

  18. Bookies like the GOP retaining control at lay $140 to win $100

    mg (9e54f8)

  19. Thanks so much for posting these summaries.

    Re Props 1 & 2: if you subsidize housing for the homeless and migrants, you encourage more homeless and migrants to come to CA.

    harkin (ef2377)

  20. JVW, this is interesting to out-of-state folks, not just to see what’s on the ballot but to also read your take on these issues, with which I find myself in substantial agreement. Re this one:

    Prop 11: Requires private-sector ambulances to remain on-call during work breaks.

    There is no formal opposition to this measure so it’s likely to pass overwhelmingly, but I can’t help but see it as a solution in search of a problem. I’m not aware of a bunch of people bleeding it out in the street because the private company EMTs are finishing up their combo meal at Del Taco. I think I’ll vote no just to be ornery, but if you want to vote yes then I’ll certainly understand.

    I can think of non-orneriness reasons to vote against this. It looks to me like another stupid attempt by the stupid people who think government should, or even can, legislate goodness. If we want our EMTs to have careers in which their breaks are less valued by society than other workers’ breaks, why shouldn’t we also require that of kindergarten teachers or life insurance salesmen or even (gasp!) lawyers? All of them supposedly serve valuable civic functions directly or indirectly. This kind of hyper-central planning is a big fat government thumb which will inevitably result in the people who hire EMTs — generally governmental entities, or else heavily government-supported entities — to hire more than are needed based on demand criteria alone, because it artificially inflates demand.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  21. It’s less obvious a tinkering with supply/demand than the dialysis initiative, I will grant that. But it’s the same kind of economic mischief perpetrated upon the unwilling through government compulsion.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  22. As for daylight savings time:

    DST delenda est, along with Twitter.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  23. As opposed to the ap newswire, which doesn’t have a pretense to truth?

    Narciso (d1f714)

  24. Trump backers should come up with a few hundred ballot propositions across the country. Lord knows congress is clueless.

    mg (9e54f8)

  25. You are wrong about the effect of prop 7. It merely authorizes the legislature to put us no year round dst or year round standard time, with a 2/3 majority vote. Right now the legislature can do nothing, because day was established by a ballot prop in 1949.

    The advertising on this is misleading. Read the legal text.

    aphrael (97d6f1)

  26. Prop 11 is a reaction to a state court decision requiring security guards to be given breaks without being on call. The ambulance industry is reasonably worried that it will eventually be applied to them.

    I am kinda ok with a rule requiring on call breaks for EMTs, but I want them paid time and a half, or for there to be some other incentive to ensure that they get actual breaks without always being required to work through them.

    aphrael (97d6f1)

  27. I am strongly against 8 because I don’t understand the economics of the industry well enough to speculate about the effects. This kind of regulation, if it is going to be done, should be done by administrative agencies with domain expertise, not by the voters.

    aphrael (97d6f1)

  28. DST was authorized by ballot initiative in 1949, not day. Autocorrect ftl.

    aphrael (97d6f1)

  29. Good stuff, aphrael. Thanks for adding the corrections.

    JVW (42615e)

  30. nothing about marijuaner?

    and are we still full-speed-ahead on the medium speed rail fiasco?

    and arnold

    has he finished transitioning yet

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  31. nothing about marijuaner?

    They can’t really make it legal-er, and I guess nobody has thought of subsidizing it or requiring people to smoke it yet.

    and are we still full-speed-ahead on the medium speed rail fiasco?

    The Newsom guy that JVW hates said he will only build the northern half of it.

    Dave (9664fc)

  32. ugh

    the marijuana regime there – it’s super ugly

    a blight on the already woefully blighted urban landscape

    it would suck if failifornia’s regime became a model for everybody else

    but seriously newsom’s campaigning on doing 50% less rail fiasco all up in it?

    i guess this is what passes for an ambitious agenda there anymore

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  33. The whole pot thing is totally illegal, but President Trump refuses to faithfully execute the laws of the US of A.

    It’s sad that he’s in cahoots with drug dealers, just like Obama. Dubya woulda never stood for it, nosiree.

    Dave (9664fc)

  34. So what is the preferred outcome, lets say that:

    1) the time setting remains year round without adjustment

    2) the election is this Thursday November 1 and the decision is “implemented” on Sunday at 2am November 4, the nation’s fall back date.

    Would you prefer the next set of Sunday home NFL games start at 2:00pm (which is similar to Arizona) or at 1:00pm as previously expected (although NOT changing in March would result in a ludicrous 4:00am – 8:00pm June daylight as opposed to the customary 5:00am – 9:00pm)

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  35. Thanks, JVW. This is a timely public service.

    Colonel Haiku (97d6f1)

  36. You only think you’re kidding, Dave. We can apply the RICO laws to eliminate the deficit by seizing the assets of anyone who ever commingled marijuana revenue in the “legalized” states. From the growers, to the dispensaries, to their landlords, to their banks, even to Wall Street. Why don’t we do it? Because, like gambling, the racket became lucrative enough to buy politicians wholesale.

    nk (dbc370)

  37. Hi JVW:

    Why would splitting California into three states be dumb? Serious question.

    Appalled (96665e)

  38. From the growers, to the dispensaries, to their landlords, to their banks, even to Wall Street.

    You left out the biggest one of all – the state governments themselves, who are doing nothing more than running glorified protection rackets under the color of law.

    Seems to me that the Feds could seize the assets of the states involved, like the buildings used to administer the racketeering schemes, state treasuries, etc, and lock up the state officials involved up to and including the governors.

    Dave (9664fc)

  39. sleazy corrupt Cory Gardner’s been owned by weed dealers since before he was even elected i think

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  40. nk: not to mention that in the states that have adopted legal marijuana, legalization is popular, and there would be an enormous political backlash if the federal government attempted to do that.

    this isn’t a legal problem, it’s a political problem.

    ultimately the solution will be to amend the controlled substance act to return regulation of marijuana to the states entirely.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  41. What California needs is a proposition to make it legal to belabor any elected official about the head with an aluminum baseball bat.

    C. S. P. Schofield (043293)

  42. I’m told that Prop 10 is a private bill by the state’s largest ambulance company to rectify a matter that they lost in 1) union negotiations, 2) legislative lobbying, and 3) the courts. Currently, when EMTs are called off of break to handle an emergency (yes, this doesn’t change that) they have to be PAID extra for their lost meal time. This would end that extra pay. And that’s ALL this does.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  43. Pattrerico,

    I’m curious about your response to Prop 9.

    What’s “stupid”?
    1. Splitting the state in general?
    2. Splitting the state the way Prop 9 did it (badly)?
    3. Or trying to split the state with an initiative STATUTE rather than the more reasonable initiative AMENDMENT?

    A single state that holds 1 in 8 Americans (and some unknown number of Mexicans) is an affront to federalism. It NEEDS to be split up. I favor this plan, as one that would allow Jefferson and the Central Valley to be free of the coastal elites, allow SF and LA to have things jkust the way they want, and let the rest of SoCal fight over the last two Senate seats.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  44. Always vote against bond proposals. All the government does is use the bonds to fund the area in question, then take funds currently allocated and redirect them someplace else. It’s just another way of raising taxes. It requires a little more kabuki and book-juggling, but it’s the same thing in the end. If you really want money spent on a particular item, lobby the legislators.

    DarrenM (a4eb00)

  45. #10 “career public servant and multimillionaire businessman”

    I always wondered how someone can be both of these without being corrupt.

    DarrenM (a4eb00)

  46. Kevin M —

    (a) this post was made by Dana, not Patterico.

    (b) I think any sane plan for splitting up CA breaks up San Bernardino and Riverside counties, so that LA/Ventura/Orange/Inland Empire are a single state. They’re economically tied together in a way that makes putting them in different states insane, and the politics of the regions are converging. Draw a line through the mountains between Crestline/Big Bear/Yucaipa and put everything southwest of that together.

    (c) Prop 10 is rent control. You’re talking about Prop 11.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  47. (a) this post was made by Dana, not Patterico.

    Umm…

    [guest post by JVW]

    Dave (9664fc)

  48. Dave: hah! there’s an internet rule which says that any grammar or spelling correction will contain a grammar or spelling correction, and this goes to prove that rule.

    My point that it wasn’t Patterico was right, but I messed up my ID of the actual poster in exactly the way I was complaining Kevin had done.

    I apologize to Dana, JVW, and Kevin for so doing. :)

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  49. For Prop 10, I’d like to repost here what I posted on FB and on medium:

    California is in the middle of a crisis: we have a severe shortage of housing. California ranks 49th in housing units per capita, and from 2009-2014 the state grew by 544,000 households but only by 467,000 housing units. *Half* of the state’s households are unable to afford the cost of housing in their local housing market. In order to have a household to housing unit ratio equivalent to New York (which is already low by national standards), we would need to build *two million* new units.

    (See, for example, https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/featured%20insights/Urbanization/Closing%20Californias%20housing%20gap/Closing-Californias-housing-gap-Full-report.ashx)

    This isn’t a problem for people who already own homes. But for those who don’t, it means that the cost of buying a home is skyrocketing, and it means that the cost of *rent* is skyrocketing.

    This problem is unequally distributed. It’s particulaly acute in Los Angeles County, the Bay Area, the Inland Empire, and San Diego County — which is to say, it’s particularly acute in the places most people live and in the places most people work. The precise number varies from source to source, but Kiplinger’s says that the National Association of realtors says that *six of the ten metro areas with the most expensive housing sale prices* are in California. (https://www.kiplinger.com/tool/real-estate/T010-S003-home-prices-in-100-top-u-s-metro-areas/index.php). Apartmentlist.com says that 6 of the 10 metro areas with the highest median 2 bedroom rent are in California, as are 6 of the 10 metro areas with the highest median 1 bedroom rent.

    What this means is that working class people can’t afford to live in the state’s big metro areas unless they were lucky enough to buy houses decades ago or are lucky enough to inherit houses. Instead, they live far away from the metro areas and have hellish commutes — which means traffic sucks everywhere. And *even so*, in the urban areas, it’s becoming difficult for high end restaurants and yuppie food stores (both of which pay more than average) to attract staff, because the staff can’t find a place to live.

    ——–

    The obvious solution to this is to build more housing. To build housing on a massive scale, to close the gap and bring prices down by dramatically increasing supply.

    The problem is that this solution is politically impossible. To *existing* homeowners, who exercise effective control over local politics in most jurisdiction, building more housing means increasing density in their neighborhoods, which means giving up some of their quality of life. It means more traffic, more noise, more people around. Smaller lot sizes, tall buildings casting shade on their homes and their lawns. It means giving up the California dream as they understand it. And to anti-gentrification activists, it means the destruction of their communities (never mind that their communities are being destroyed by rising rents *anyway*).

    It’s a really important point, this: the imbalance between supply and demand for housing in California is *not* the result of the market. It’s the result of political obstacles imposed on construction. A functioning market would be building more housing, but local land use and zoning regulations get in the way.

    There is no political majority for building the housing necessary to end this crisis. An attempt by a state legislator last year to write into state law a mandate that cities allow high density housing construction near public transit lines *couldn’t even make it out of committee*.

    So if we can’t do the obvious thing — if we can’t do the only thing that has any chance of working, economically — what can we do?

    ——–

    One of the things that is happening a lot, that doesn’t get a lot of press coverage, and which is completely transparent to most homeowners, is this: renters are frequently faced with 25% or more year on year rent increases. Not everyone, to be certain, but enough that it’s not an uncommon tale, especially in the superheated markets of LA and the bay area. The people who are subject to such increases suffer a massive decrease in their quality of life; they almost certainly can’t find other housing in the community they live in, and end up having to move far away, or share housing with more and more people, or both.

    Rent control can help *these people* — the people who have rental homes and are in danger of being forced out of their communities by increasing rents.

    But rent control has two really bad side effects: (a) it discourages *maintenance and upgrading* of housing units, and (b) because it decreases expected return on investment, it decreases the incentive to build.

    So it’s a *bad* solution.

    But … it’s a bad solution that protects a particularly vulnerable population in an era when the *right* solution is impossible.

    ——–

    The cost of housing ripples through to other things. Groceries, for example, have to be substantially more expensive because (a) the rent on the storefront is more expensive, and (b) the salaries of the workers have to be more expensive so that the workers can afford to live four-to-an-apartment manhattan style. This inflation trickles down through everything. And as the price of housing continues to rise due to a growing imbalance (we’re not building enough new housing to keep up with demand, let alone to backfill the gap), the problem will get worse.

    A mechanism that allows those who are already renting to continue to afford their rent helps ameliorate *some* of the inflationary effect of the cost of housing.

    And it protects those people from having their lives disrupted and the quality of their life shattered by being forced to move by rising rent.

    It’s a bandaid. It doesn’t bring us any closer to solving the real problem. But it helps temper the effects of the catastrophe.

    If there were an initiative to override local zoning regulations to allow massive housing construction, I’d vote for it in a heartbeat. I love that my State Senator is trying to work on this issue, and he’ll have my vote as long as he does. But I have no hope that California will build its way out of the crisis — and so I turn to rent control as a second best, desperate attempt to help protect some of our most vulnerable citizens and to help ameliorate the second-order inflationary effects of housing costs.

    I’m voting yes.

    I wish there were a better option.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  50. too much federal-owned land in california too much federal-owned land

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  51. It’s a really important point, this: the imbalance between supply and demand for housing in California is *not* the result of the market. It’s the result of political obstacles imposed on construction.

    plus tons of illegals all up in it don’t forget the illegal hordes

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  52. Appalled, Kevin M, and anyone else who wondered:

    Splitting California in to three states in and of itself may or may not be advisable. I am generally neutral on that question, though I do think that the supposed benefits would at the very least be outweighed by the drawbacks (imagine having to build brand-new state capitals and bureaucratic edifices in Los Angeles and San Diego). But my problems with Prop 9 itself are very specific:

    * there was nothing in there to give guidance on how the split was to be accomplished
    * there was nothing addressing questions about how state funding would be divided up
    * there is no way on God’s Green Earth that Congress will ever approve this

    This is just the fanciful whim of a venture capitalist with money to burn. The best way to affect a split would be for a group of counties to come together and petition to leave the state, not to force an arbitrary three-way split on everyone should it get 50% of the vote plus one.

    JVW (42615e)

  53. Prop 10 allows rent control on condos and single-family houses. This is not an accident, and the backers INTEND to come after these properties, too, many of which are income-producing for retired folks; often their old, big house now that they’ve downsized.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  54. JVW, at 52: i completely agree with the criticisms of Prop. 9. It had nothing approaching a workable plan, and just threw the problem at the state legislature: “figure it out in a year!”.

    I was particularly appalled at the fact that this would leave existing legislators representing constituents in both new states, creating an inherent conflict of interest for them.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  55. JVW,

    Agreed. Draper might be single-handedly poisoning the well. Also missing was the needed California Water Compact (also needing Congress’ approval). Start with status quo ante, require 2/3rds of a 5-state board to change.

    A split that 1) did not leave debt and assets hanging, 2) dealt with water, 3) gave the red and blue areas separation while leaving purple SoCal alone, and 4) disarmed the state’s 55 electoral votes would have passed THIS Congress, but maybe not the next one.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  56. Yeah, the fact that it didn’t address the intra-state water issues was bad, and there’s also a huge issue in that under the Colorado Compact, the water LA gets from the Colorado River probably cannot be sent to LA if LA doesn’t abut the river. If the state has no territory in the Colorado watershed, it’s ineligible for transfer under the compact.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  57. (a) this post was made by Dana JVW, not Patterico.

    um, well, oops, move along nothing to see here….

    Kevin M (a57144)

  58. The other hilarious thing about Draper’s initiative is that it would have created two deep blue states and one blue-leaning purple state.

    I was also deeply offended by trying to tie San Benito County to LA rather than the Bay Area.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  59. If the state has no territory in the Colorado watershed, it’s ineligible for transfer under the compact.

    This could be modified at the same time, inserting CWC for CA. This is what lawyers do.

    But Draper’s plan (like his first one) was half-assed and not really intended to work. But it sucked all the oxygen out of the room. And I doubt he’s done.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  60. I was also deeply offended by trying to tie San Benito County to LA rather than the Bay Area.

    I can’t put images here, but see the link up in #43.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  61. republicans controll both federal and state government even though they are in the minority. clinton got 3 million more votes ;but carried only 20 states. senate democrats got millions more votes ;but 18% of voters control 52 senate seats 82% of voters control only 48. gerrymandering alows less voters to control more house seats then majority. states the same. great if majority voters who are mostly democrats put up with it and voter suppression to stop minorities from voting. if democrats in 2020 run on majority rule watch out! constitution was compromise to protect slavery in slave states. if democrat runs on its time to end slave state compromise it will be interesting as mr. spock says.

    lany (54654b)

  62. > This could be modified at the same time, inserting CWC for CA. This is what lawyers do.

    only with approval of the other states in the basin, as well as congressional approval. what *possible* reason does Arizona have to agree with this? Or Utah?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  63. Great comment as always, aphrael. Thoughtful and well-constructed, as is your hallmark. But I disagree. I will make a point of putting up a post discussing why I am against rent control and we can have a thoughtful discussion.

    Just to give you a little preview of my argument: Do you know what else is a bad solution but preferable to rent control? Government-supplied housing vouchers for the poor and middle-class. It’s a bad solution because like rent control it distorts the housing markets and may perversely provide incentive for landlords to raise prices. But it does place the onus for a practical solution on the local government, who otherwise has to figure out how to fund the vouchers year after year.

    I probably can’t get to the Rent Control post until tomorrow at the earliest, but I will try to prioritize it.

    JVW (42615e)

  64. Anotehr thing wrong with Draper’s plan was using “California” in the name of any state. In the 5-state plan I linked to, there are natural names for 4 or them that don’t use the regional name (Jefferson, San Joaquin, Pacifica (“in” joke), Los Angeles). Note sure what to use for SoCal though. Gold Coast?

    Kevin M (a57144)

  65. @ nk, who wrote (#36):

    [L]ike gambling, the [marijuana] racket became lucrative enough to buy politicians wholesale.

    They got John Boehner at a super discount because he’s a discontinued floor model.

    @ Dave, who wrote (#38):

    [nk] left out the biggest one of all – the state governments themselves, who are doing nothing more than running glorified protection rackets under the color of law.

    Yes, indeed. The state’s share — amounting to the lion’s share, but leaving plenty for hyenas — of the proceeds of the Texas Lottery, for example, go to finance public education in Texas. State lotteries are, of course, effectively a tax on the stupid, romantic, and innumerate, so there’s considerable irony in that.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  66. what *possible* reason does Arizona have to agree with this? Or Utah?

    There is the concept of “successor states” that some court or other might graft onto the compact.

    In any event, SoCal which would border the compact would likely get the current CA share which currently goes to … SoCal. What part of that L.A. would get would be subject to the internal compact.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  67. gerrymandering alows less voters to control more house seats then majority.

    The majority of the gerrymandering that goes on in this country is in creating Congressional districts where racial and ethnic minorities are the majority, with the express purpose of electing someone who is black, Latino, or Asian, and that chicanery is staunchly supported by progressives. If Democrats would break up the districts gerrymandered for minorities and put segments of those staunchly-Democrat voters in swing districts, they would likely win control of the House. However, they would also elect fewer minorities and certainly fewer grievance firebrands, and may end up sending to Washington more moderate legislators who are friendly to capitalism, respectful of the history of this country, and not brainwashed by the social justice mob.

    JVW (42615e)

  68. JVW,

    A terrible plan preferable to rent control: Cities using eminent domain to take rental property, then renting same at a loss.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  69. Remind me to not tangle with Beldar following a game when his beloved Horns spit the bit.

    JVW – That is among the more beautiful ironies in politics. If Blexit takes actual hold, the narrative gymnastics as the donkeys insist on a smerter gerrymandering regime will be an all-timer.

    Ed from SFV (6d42fa)

  70. State lotteries are, of course, effectively a tax on the stupid, romantic, and innumerate, so there’s considerable irony in that.

    Less so than tobacco taxes. And the person who won that $1.5 billion (or $850 million) lottery came out well ahead of the 300 million-to-1 odds. Even after taxes the odds weren’t bad.

    And the money isn’t actually “extra” money for education. It simply replaces other dollars that used to go to education but now go to something else.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  71. Soon, marijuana will be taxed “to fund medical care”. Former medical care money will go to pay pensions. But they couldn’t say they were taxing marijuana to pay for pensions, now could they?

    Kevin M (a57144)

  72. good old-fashioned untaxed illegal marijuana should be the future of marijuana legalization i think

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  73. 67 you are right and democrats have payed heavily for it. democrats if a district is 60% minority minority wll be elected republican if we make it 90% minority no white democrats will have any minorities in their district to vote for them. this does not however address the slave state compromise in the senate and electoral college. this may get addressed soon and not to your liking.

    lany (54654b)

  74. The problem is that this solution is politically impossible. To *existing* homeowners, who exercise effective control over local politics in most jurisdiction, building more housing means increasing density in their neighborhoods, which means giving up some of their quality of life. It means more traffic, more noise, more people around. Smaller lot sizes, tall buildings casting shade on their homes and their lawns. It means giving up the California dream as they understand it. And to anti-gentrification activists, it means the destruction of their communities (never mind that their communities are being destroyed by rising rents *anyway*).

    Yes, and no. Building massive apartments directly abutting single-family houses will always get the torches and pitchforks out. But placing them in other areas, such as former commercial districts, and making the argument that it REDUCES traffic if someone lives near you to work near you than if they live 20 miles away and work near you. If the average mileage driven drops, the average traffic drops. Of course, this requires numeracy and the ability to listen. Maybe that’s hoping for too much.

    But what do they do? Some ahole puts 5 story apartments abutting the property lines of single-story houses and tells the residents to frack off. Pretty soon, all development anywhere is opposed.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  75. It’s a really important point, this: the imbalance between supply and demand for housing in California is *not* the result of the market. It’s the result of political obstacles imposed on construction. A functioning market would be building more housing, but local land use and zoning regulations get in the way.

    Another way to look at this is that public goods like environmental quality, space, etc are being appropriately priced in. There is not enough housing to support a continued influx of people, and there is popular opposition (reflected in political obstacles) to building more housing. That scarcity is in turn reflected in the higher price of housing – as it should be to discourage more people from moving to an area without an adequate supply of housing to accommodate them at lower prices.

    In addition to the bad effects you mention, artificially lowering the price of housing has the very undesirable effect of encouraging people who can’t afford to live here at market (which is to say: realistic) prices to move here anyway.

    In the end, aphrael’s empathetic and good intentioned argument for rent control is just like all the similarly good-intentioned arguments that have led to failed experiments in the past. It can only make the problem worse by reducing supply and increasing demand.

    Whatever the reason for scarcity of housing, higher market prices are how the reality of that scarcity gets unambiguously communicated to people so they can make informed economic decisions.

    Dave (9664fc)

  76. And to anti-gentrification activists, it means the destruction of their communities (never mind that their communities are being destroyed by rising rents *anyway*).

    Well, not always. Sometimes they are just slums. “Anti-gentrification” is both pro-slum and racist.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  77. In certain cities (Atlanta suffers from this), you suffer from a dynamic where the CEO and rich folk all live in a gated community out in suburbia. They don’t want to spend all day in the car. So they yank corporate HQ out to where they live. The result is ghastly traffic, real housing problems, and urban sprawl that doesn’t ever end.

    Appalled (96665e)

  78. Here, for example, is a brilliant infill development. It takes out a parking lot, a B&N bookstore and two high-turnover retail buildings (one was a record store 8 tenants ago). It is adjacent to two grocery stores, a drug store and two large shopping areas all within a block. It is also near quite a bit of new-age workplaces (e.g. Chiat-Day, software houses, tech startups, etc). There are no incumbent residents to displace or even annoy.

    Here is a terrible terrible development, hated by the entire community. Why is it hated? See here.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  79. Appalled. See Santa Monica.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  80. Very sensible analyses. Well written
    Who really was the author?

    john morrissey (22cfcd)

  81. Here is a terrible terrible development, hated by the entire community. Why is it hated? See here.

    Wow, that’s bad.

    Although the intersection of Sepulveda and La Tijera is not exactly an idyllic patch of virgin prairie…

    The apartment building might even block out some of the noise from LAX.

    Dave (9664fc)

  82. yeah the apartment complex makes tons of sense for that area

    the beaver cleaver housing development not so much really

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  83. but there’s a trader joe’s nearby and you know what that means

    persimmons!

    yay america!

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  84. Ah, yes. Rent control. Where you cannot afford your own home but you can vote yourself the right to live well off the sweat of others. Isn’t democracy wonderful?

    nk (dbc370)

  85. 76, dont get me started on the Mexican American Pilsen gentry up here. A lot of my college era cum Facebook following complain but do more than well enough to remain there as buyers. And their parishes are still considered “receiver” in the 2 church Archdiocese sharing arrangements.

    urbanleftbehind (b4f934)

  86. Looks like Christmas is coming early for fans of national borders:

    “Strategic Sentinel

    Verified account

    @StratSentinel
    Follow Follow @StratSentinel
    More Strategic Sentinel Retweeted James LaPorta
    14,000 troops now scheduled to deploy to the #Mexican US border. An additional 7,000 on ready standby. Troops currently deployed and those enroute will have live ammo.”

    Ajani (c0c314)

  87. “I was particularly appalled at the fact that this would leave existing legislators representing constituents in both new states, creating an inherent conflict of interest for them.”

    I think the words you meant to use were ‘once in a lifetime bureaucratic opportunity to seize a large amount of power with a minimum amount of responsibility’

    Ajani (91b0da)

  88. Ajani, at 88: no. I meant what I said.

    If I’m responsible for figuring out how to dissolve the state and apportion debts and assets among different new states, and I *represent* people in two of the new states, the interests of some of the people I represent conflict with the interests of others of the people I represent. There’s no way for me to ethically perform such a duty.

    aphrael (3f0569)

  89. The apartment building might even block out some of the noise from LAX.

    It certainly blocks out all of the sun.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  90. BTW, Westchester is a very livable community, with houses going for between 1 and 2 million. Though not that block now.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  91. If I’m responsible for figuring out how to dissolve the state and apportion debts and assets among different new states, and I *represent* people in two of the new states, the interests of some of the people I represent conflict with the interests of others of the people I represent. There’s no way for me to ethically perform such a duty.

    I understand your point, but it is hardly unheard-of for the interests of one set of a politician’s constituents to conflict the interests of another set…

    You are kind of approaching it from the standpoint of a lawyer, while a politician rarely represents only a single interest.

    Dave (9664fc)

  92. the beaver cleaver housing development not so much really

    The housing was there before there were jets. Zillow put the big house in that photo at $2.45 million. They probably need to update that. The next two to the right were at $1.3 mil.

    This isn’t Watts.

    https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/Los-Angeles-CA-90045

    Kevin M (a57144)

  93. You are kind of approaching it from the standpoint of a lawyer, while a politician rarely represents only a single interest.

    Yes. Last year my Congresswoman was Maxine waters and I’m going to assert that 107% of the things she supported ignored my interests. She’s a lawyer, too, but that doesn’t bother her.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  94. But the point is that it only takes one or two asshat developers to get ALL developments opposed.

    Kevin M (a57144)

  95. Yes. Last year my Congresswoman was Maxine waters and I’m going to assert that 107% of the things she supported ignored my interests. She’s a lawyer, too, but that doesn’t bother her.

    They all look the same.

    Dave (9664fc)

  96. Grrr…

    They all look alike.

    KNOW YOUR MEME

    Dave (9664fc)

  97. They all look alike.

    Lawyers?

    Kevin M (a57144)

  98. JVW’s recommendations make a lot of sense, but another good approach to CA ballot measures is to just do the opposite of whatever the LA Times recommends. It saves a lot of effort and even on the rare occasions when they’re right about something they’re always so smug and condescending about it that I can’t bring myself to vote the way they demand. JVW seems to have it right, except maybe for the one about daylight savings time which to me goes on too long already and should be cut back, not expanded.

    On a more local note, I don’t think we have a lot of contested judicial elections in LA this year but if Patterico has any endorsements would like to see them.

    RL formerly in Glendale (40f5aa)

  99. PJMedia has an article explaining Prop 11 by a former EMT. Short version: private ambulance service AMR wants to pull crews off meal breaks for non-emergency runs without paying overtime.

    AMR is paying for the entire pro-11 campaign through a shell organization.

    Rich Rostrom (1ec770)

  100. I do not have a high opinion of ambulance crews. Paramedics or EMTs, fire department or private. They’re really the bottom feeders of the medical professions, and the decent ones are the exception not the rule. Eric Garner (the guy who was killed for selling loosies in New York) was killed by the ambulance crew. He told them he could not breathe, and instead of giving him oxygen they told him to shut up, and he slowly suffocated in the ambulance.

    nk (dbc370)

  101. I liked this post quite a bit. On Prop 5, let me say that it will benefit first time buyers because it will increase supply of houses for sale, and the buyers’ elevated cost basis will increase government tax revenue. But it makes no personal difference to me. Once I sell, I’m heading out of California. Nice weather is good; bad government is worse.I’m surprised that I believe that. Maybe I’ll think better of it, but that’s the way I feel today. The people running things are, at their best, mediocre. Think for a moment, is Gavin Newsom your idea of a leader?
    If so, God help you, because Gavin won’t.

    vincent cox (da6183)

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