Measure H Content
Zane was now widely regarded as a very able campaign strategist. He was also someone who monitored developments in campaign law. In 2017, he was well familiar with the fact that local governments could place General Purpose Tax measures before voters and have them require a simple majority vote for approval, so long as the measure did not specify a specific use for the revenue. Governments could also place companion advisory measures on the ballot offering voters the opportunity to recommend, but not bind the uses for the revenue. Such companion measures would have political sway as to how revenues would be spent even if they were not legally binding.
In 2016, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas sought authority from his colleagues on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for a tax measure to be placed on the ballot to provide services for the homeless, but a satisfactory measure did not emerge. After that election, Zane asked for a meeting with MRT and shared with him the opportunity presented by a General Purpose Tax with a companion measure that could raise, based on a simple majority vote, significant resources and have the “political will” of the voters assure that funds would be spent for services for the homeless.
MRT was enthused by the suggestion and began the work of getting support from his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors and to build the coalition needed for such a measure on a special election in March of 2017. The operating assumption was that the measure would seek voter approval of a 1/4 cent sales tax measure to raise nearly $400 M/year and the companion measure would seek voter endorsement for use of these funds for services to homeless persons.
Ultimately the Supervisors agreed with MRT’s proposal. However, at the last minute, MRT’s campaign consultant, Steve Barkan, became concerned that opposition might arise to the measure simply because of the non-binding nature of the measure. In a normal general election, such opposition could be readily defeated, but in a special election where Measure H would be the only thing on the ballot, voter attention might fixate on this issue. So, following the advice of his consultant, Measure H was placed on the ballot as a special purpose tax with legally binding expenditure commitments – but it would now need a 2/3 vote to be approved.
Move LA was retained as a key consulting team helping to run the campaign for Measure H. Beth Steckler of the Move LA staff assumed a primary coordinating role for the campaign. In the end LA County voters gave Measure H a 69.34% approval, exceeding the 2/3 requirement, and it became law. However, the measure had been written for only a ten-year term and would cease to be law in 2027. That means that advocates will have to seek voter approval for an extension or a replacement program before that time.
Today, in 2023, Measure H is raising over $600 M/year and provides an essential, if insufficient, resource for helping homeless people survive and find services and homes.