Move LA began during a challenging time . . .

when LA’s “soul-crushing traffic” was on everyone’s mind with no solution in sight. Move LA started a campaign to address this challenge by building a coalition to support a ballot measure to fund the build-out of LA County’s transit system—which became Measure R—and which voters approved by 67.4% even as the Great Recession loomed before us. After the recession ebbed, Measure R was followed by Measure M in 2016 and voters said “Yes” again, and together R and M created a $120 billion program for a major investment in a new transit system and more transit service in LA County. Move LA built on these transit successes to win voter approval for funding to end homelessness and build affordable housing in LA and to create a coalition for major funding to achieve clean air and help end climate change. For details, read on, looking backward in time from most recent to earlier groundbreaking efforts.

  • HLApodium_150.jpgWhen we led the effort to pass Measures R (2008) and M (2016), we knew that cities would play a critical role in supporting multi-modal options. This is why a significant portion of these ballot measure revenues, as well as SB1 funds (which we defended in 2018) go directly to cities to improve our streets. Our transit system thrives when we have good first/last mile options. 

    The City of LA received voter-approved funding and approved its Mobility Plan in 2015 to ensure our buses, trains, bikes, scooters, cars, and walkers could all get around efficiently. Unfortunately, the City has been far too slow in implementing that vision, and so we were proud to work alongside business, labor, environmental, and advocacy organizations led by Streets for All to qualify and pass Measure HLA, the Healthy Streets citizens’ initiative. Thanks to voters, who overwhelmingly supported the measure with 65% support, we can now hold the City accountable for implementing that vision for healthier and safer ways to get around and a real mandate from voters who want more multi-modal options.

    Click Here to Read the LA Times story

  • 57.7% Yes from the voters of the City of Los Angeles to prevent homelessness and build affordable housing.

    In 2019 Move LA convened a broad-based coalition to draft a voter initiative to prevent/reduce homelessness and build affordable housing, circulate it for signatures, and place it before voters in the City of Los Angeles on the November 2022 ballot . . .

    Origins of Measure ULA

    The City and County of Los Angeles are experiencing a profound crisis in the availability of housing affordable to the poor of this community.  In the County more than 75,000 and in the City more than 45,000 persons are homeless on any given night.  It is a crisis that continues to worsen despite significant prior efforts to address it.  

    We at Move LA believe that there is a moral imperative to ensure that our community finds or creates the resources needed to address these crises.  But, it is imperative as well that the program for use of those resources address not only the impulse for quick fixes that move people off the streets into shelters and interim housing, but also recognizes the need as well for strategies and interventions that prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place as well as programs that ensure a robust supply of permanent affordable housing. 

    Having succeeded with the passage of Measure H in March of 2017, Denny Zane, Move LA Executive Director was pondering strategies they might pursue to provide significant resources to address both the affordable housing and homelessness crisis.  Zane was frustrated by the reluctance of both local and state political leaders to take any political risks to provide permanent resources on the scale needed.

    Denny had been following the process in California courts that was heading toward a decision that local voter initiatives that raise taxes should be able to be approved by a simple majority vote, rather than a 2/3 vote.  The courts were saying that local voter initiatives were not governed by Proposition 13, a constitutional amendment approved by California voters in 1978.

    Having succeeded in winning three LA County ballot measures previously, Zane and Move LA staff approached Frances Engler, Political Director of Unite HERE Local 11, and proposed the convening of a labor/community coalition to discuss a possible voter initiative in the City of LA to raise the robust funds needed to prevent homelessness and to develop affordable housing at scale.  Unite HERE agreed to co-host such a meeting at their LA offices. 

    Invited to attend this meeting were representatives from organizations such as ACCE, ACT-LA, CLUE, Home for Good/United Way, Inquilinos Unidos, KIWA, LA Voice, One LA, Public Counsel, Saint Barnabas Senior Services, SAJE, SCANPH, The Urban and Environmental Policy Department/Occidental College, Venice Community Housing, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty.  Organized labor leaders were invited from the LA County Federation of Labor, the LA-Orange County Building Trades Council, IBEW Local 11, Laborers 300, Operating Engineers, AFSCME DC 36, SEIU UHW, SEIU-721, SEIU 2015, UCLA Labor Center, UFCW Local 770, as well as Unite HERE Local 11.     

    The Need

    It was clear to all gathered for the meeting at Unite HERE that communities throughout the region, including the City of Los Angeles, were experiencing a profound shortage of affordable housing and a profound crisis in the numbers of and hardships experienced by homeless persons.  Rents were rising rapidly for working families, eviction activity and displacement were increasing and evidence showed a significant out-migration of working families from the region.  The crisis enveloped communities throughout LA County as well as other communities in the SCAG region and the state of California. 

    Those gathered discussed their understanding of the underlying problem that was creating the housing and homelessness crisis.   Two explanations had emerged for these crises, each with different implications for the solution: 

    Explanation #1: There is a large overall shortage of housing in Los Angeles County fueled by population growth and underbuilding of housing; the solution requires allowing rapid expansion of the supply of all forms of housing including and especially market rate housing;  or....

    Explanation #2: Housing costs in Los Angeles County have spiked because of a spike in demand, driven by a large influx of a higher income workforce over a relatively short period of time.  This has led to a  specific shortage of housing affordable to low and moderate income households.  This shortage can only be addressed in the near term by direct regulation of rents and major public investments in affordable housing and assistance to keep families in their current housing.

    Explanation #1 was inconsistent with data showing that population growth had actually slowed in Southern California since 2000, and even now was declining.  And its solutions were speculative and not timely enough for the crisis the county faces.   It is more of an ideology than a strategy.

    All gathered at the Unite HERE Local 11 office felt the urgency of the crises required focus on nearer term public investments, especially providing direct investments in affordable housing and assistance to homeless persons. 

    Why Local Action?

    Could we look to the State of California for the resources needed?  No, redevelopment was long gone and no new funding, especially ongoing funding, for affordable housing from Sacramento was on the horizon.   SB 5, the one bill that offered the greatest potential for real funding for affordable housing throughout California had been vetoed by the governor.  Thus, we must work to find resources and solutions locally…while we continue to pressure Sacramento

    So, the key discussion became, how do we generate a winning local ballot measure to provide robust resources to invest in homelessness prevention and development of affordable housing?

    Why a Voter initiative?

    We all agreed that we must take advantage of the opportunity created by the then recent California court decisions that provide that revenue/tax measures qualified for the ballot as a voter initiative can win in California with a simple majority vote.  We must identify a significant and appropriate revenue source, develop an expenditure plan, and propose it to the voters of the City of Los Angeles. 

    Such a voter initiative could raise funding for homelessness prevention and affordable housing development on the scale needed.   Success could provide a model for other California communities.

    A local voter initiative can provide funding for homelessness prevention and development of affordable housing that can be both robust and reliable for the long term as compared to any action taken by a city council or county supervisors.   

    Goals of the Measure

    We believed we needed a measure that could create between $500 M/yr. and $1 B/yr. for homelessness prevention and affordable housing development in the City of Los Angeles, a measure whose revenue would likely grow thereafter. 

    Guiding Equity Principle

    Move LA had already successfully passed three sales tax measures mostly for transit system development and operation and for services to the homeless.  Simple equity requires we seek an alternative to the sales tax. 

    In addition, while there were big time winners in the real estate market including owners of high-end properties, landlords and real estate speculators, there were many more losers, those paying excessive rents or those who are now homeless. 

    We believed, and our partners agreed, that we should develop a tax that applies to inflated real estate values, taxing those most likely to benefit from our current “real estate roulette” and use those resources to help those most likely to be the loser/victims of that roulette. 

    Afterall, a significant share of rising real estate values is not truly earned but is derived from the perceived quality of the community, its environs and services (location, location, location) and the development standards adopted by each community.   In truth, real estate values are largely conferred by the community and are especially appropriate to be taxed.

    Some of the taxing options considered by the discussion

    1. Tax windfall rental income on the highest rent multifamily residential properties.
    2. Tax gross rental income on larger commercial, industrial and multifamily residential properties who are benefitting from real estate inflation brought on by the “digital goldrush.”
    3. Tax high value properties when sold; such values have been escalated by that same digital goldrush.

    Exemptions thought to be equitable and smart
    Find a criteria that will exempt all or nearly all single-family homes and condos owned by natural persons.  In effect, then, the tax should fall primarily on owners of income producing properties or very high-end homes when sold.

    Conducting polling and determining financial performance
    Polling and financial analysis was conducted for each option.  The simple selection criteria:  we want the measure that generates the most revenue to invest in preventing homelessness and building affordable housing that also performs very well in voter polls while being able to be structured to minimize impacts on owners of family homes that were not part of a speculative enterprise.

    Selection of preferred revenue option

    The committee agreed that the preferred option was a measure that taxed high end properties when sold, termed a real estate transfer tax or a documentary transfer tax, in that it was likely to generate greater revenue than the other options and polled most favorably with voters and easily enabled exemptions for smaller value sales, most likely to be single-family homes. 

    In addition, since both counties and cities universally collect this form of tax now, albeit at much lower rates, the challenges of initial implementation should be modest.

    Based on recent performance of the existing real estate transfer tax and the levels of activities in the real estate market, generating over $800 M/yr. even as much as $1 B/year seemed possible, even likely – unless the market suddenly performs counter to historic trends.

    Addressing equity for those employed in construction of affordable housing development 

    The drafting committee worked for months to draft and re-draft language on a variety of topics from financing to eligible projects to implementation timelines. The drafting committee invited expertise from experts in housing, homelessness, tenant rights, labor rights, transit oriented development, and more. It was a collaborative process with serious debate, deep research, and honest conversations that, ultimately, resulted in a measure that is comprehensive in its approach. It also brought groups and organizers closer together.

    It was also agreed that the men and women providing construction work for affordable apartment buildings over 40 units should operate under a Project Labor Agreement with the City of Los Angeles thus ensuring labor union membership and middle class wages for all such workers.  This agreement came out of negotiations between Chris Hannan of the LA-OC Building and Construction Trades Council and Alan Greenlee of the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housers (SCANPH). 

    Ballot measure expenditure program

    • No more than 8% for program management and implementation
    • 30% of remaining funds for prevention of homelessness, including income support for very-low-income seniors and disabled persons, income support for tenants in short term crisis, right-to-counsel for tenants threatened by unfair evictions, outreach to tenants to ensure they know the resources available to them.
    • 70% of remaining funds for development of multifamily or mixed-use residential projects deed restricted for extremely-loe, very-low, low, and moderate-income households. 50% will be used for development of new affordable housing; 10% will be used for acquisition and rehab of existing rental housing; 10% will be used for home ownership strategies.

    Creating the Campaign Committee

    Upon the completion of the drafting of the measure itself and conducting polling which confirmed the likely ready support for the measure by Los Angeles city voters, a campaign steering committee was created with Laura Raymond, ACT-LA, and April Verrett, SEIU 2015, as co-chairs; Eli Lipmen represented Move LA; Joe Donlin, SAJE; Anne-Marie Otey, LA-OC Building Trades Council; Tommy Newman, the United Way; Alan Greenlee, SCANPH; Frances Engler, Unite HERE Local; Antonio Sanchez, IBEW Local 11.

    Qualifying the Measure and Winning the Vote

    After coming to an agreement on the substance of the measure and agreeing to inclusion of labor justice provisions, Chris Hannan, Executive Secretary of the LA-Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council announced the Trades were prepared to invest significant resources to qualify the measure for the ballot; Frances Engler of Unite HERE Local 11 indicated that the hotel and restaurant workers were prepared to incorporate signature gathering for the measure in their signature gathering and campaign activities for other local measures; SEIU 2015 indicated it would make a major commitment to the campaign as well. 

    United to House L.A. collected over 98,00 signatures. The required number of valid signatures was 61,076. The petition was presented to the Los Angeles City Council, and on June 15, 2022, the city council voted 14-0 to place the measure on the November 2022 ballot.

    The UHLA coalition that championed Measure ULA

    The UHLA Coalition is a remarkably broad-based coalition of labor, including the building trades and the service sectors, and social justice, tenants’ rights and affordable housing advocates.  It is perhaps the most broad based and cohesive coalition in the history of the City of Los Angeles. The coalition grew organically and collaboratively, which is remarkable considering the different constituencies groups represented. However, all shared the same passion for addressing affordability and homelessness in our City and this focus created a unique and enduring opportunity to work together towards a common goal. Organizations that opposed each other on other policy issues or candidates came together to pass Measure ULA.

    The level of engagement of each sector of the coalition was remarkable and is reflected in the diversity of the financial base for the measure:  Building Trades:  $1,350,000; Carpenters:  $250,000;  service sector labor:  $944,000;  social justice and affordable housing organizations:  $1,060,000;  Individuals: $50,000. A total of $3,654,000 was raised for the qualifying and winning the measure.

    This is especially significant for the future of the City of Los Angeles, especially in light of the shift of city election dates from spring of odd-numbered years to November of even-numbered years.  City elections will now coincide with national and state elections which ensures that a much more Democratic and renter electorate will vote on the selection of the mayor, city council members and ballot measures. 

    A true labor/community coalition for Los Angeles

    We believe Measure ULA was the first victory of a newly emerging governing coalition in the City of Los Angeles.  It is  a true labor/community coalition where power and influence, as well as effort, is shared democratically among participants. This is a coalition which has mastered the fine arts of campaigning – including direct voter contact hand-to-hand, door-to-door, earned media, targeted direct mail, television and radio advertising, and digital media - which is likely to ensure a significantly more progressive governing agenda for the city of the future. 


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    First, there was Measure R in 2008 (see below), then there was Measure J in 2012, and then the capstone measure was Measure M in 2016. Only in California would winning 66 percent of the vote be a defeat rather than a landslide victory.  But that’s what happened to Measure J in November 2012.  After the success of Measure R, Metro sponsored Measure J to extend R from 30 to 60 years.  J won 66.1% of the vote, narrowly falling short of the 2/3 voter threshold.  But out of disappointment emerged an opportunity for a really big victory. Measure J had been proposed by Mayor AV’s transportation deputy Jaime de la Vega and Metro Board member Richard Katz. Jaime argued that if voters simply extend the term of Measure R from 30 to 60 years, it would enable Metro to garner much greater bond proceeds and with those funds accelerate the entire Measure R transit program. Unfortunately, Measure J fell short of the 2/3 vote required. 

    But out of this defeat came the inspiration for Measure M. If J had expanded the project list in a way that extended transit investments to more communities in the county, perhaps that 2/3 threshold could have been reached.

    Measure M would do that . . .

    Measure M is Birthed

    Mayor Eric Garcetti was elected in the spring of 2013. While he was always a strong supporter of transit, and very supportive of Measure R, he was not initially ready to declare his support for a second half-cent sales tax measure.  Work to demonstrate that there was real support in the community must first be accomplished.  

    This effort took on two forms: First, LA County Supervisor and Metro Board member Mike Antonovich proposed that Metro solicit from all the cities in the county their transportation infrastructure priorities, creating what was then called a Mobility Matrix.  Second, Denny Zane and Move LA were impressed with how close Measure J had come to winning 2/3 in November, 2012. Move LA proposed the development of another measure with an expanded project list that built on Measure R:  Measure R2 we called it.  Move LA began meeting with constituency groups around LA County to discuss how an expanded project priority list might look.  The new priorities were reflected in an evolving proposed expenditure program, what Move LA called the “Strawman”. Ultimately, Move LA submitted “Strawman #53” to Metro staff as input in the planning process for a new measure.   Thus, Move LA initiated an early effort to launch the Measure M campaign, hiring Eli Lipmen to work on the effort. 

    Meanwhile, Mayor  Garcetti had recruited Phil Washington from Denver to serve as LA Metro CEO. Phil had a national reputation for getting big stuff done in Denver and he turned out to be the guy who could do likewise in Los Angeles.  Phil turned the Mobility Matrix process and the Strawman process into a proposal for a second half-cent sales tax measure for 2016.  This measure would significantly expand the list of subway and light rail projects all around the county, expand the operating dollars available for both bus and rail systems and incorporate significant investments in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in virtually every category of spending.  This would enable Measure M to win support from leaders in virtually every community of the county.  But this measure would have no term limit and it would remove the 30-year term limit on Measure R, having both measure continue until voters choose to repeal them.  

    Soon after hiring Phil Washington, Mayor Garcetti became the measure’s primary champion and Measure M was placed on the November 2016 ballot.  Mayor Garcetti was an especially effective champion for the new measure both as a public voice and as the primary fundraiser.  

    Notably, his efforts and Move LA were together able to convince the American Association of Retired Persons to become a major champion of Measure M.  AARP spent over $1 M on an independent expenditure campaign asserting why the transit investments in Measures R and M together would make a big difference in the lives of senior citizens.  

    And voters rewarded us all and LA Metro with a 71.15% Yes vote.  

    The terms of Measure M meant that it and Measure R each had no term limit.  Together they were projected to generate over $120 M over 30 years – and much more beyond 30 years.  This year, 2023, each of Measure R and Measure M are projected to yield $1.2 B, meaning almost $2.5 B together.  

    These measures together will provide LA County with a voter approved permanent endowment for transit and transportation modernization, just as an earlier generation had done with the approvals of half-cent sales taxes, Proposition A (1980) and Proposition C (1990). 

    One important difference:  Measure R & M needed 2/3 voter approval;  Proposition A & C each needed a simple majority vote.

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    LA Metro now hasnew map which includes the recently (June 2023) opened Regional Connector with 3 new Downtown LA stations, and boasts the longest light rail line in the entire world at 49.5 miles running from Azusa to Long Beach. Many think this project is the most important milestone yet in the fulfillment of a major campaign promise from the 2008 “Yes on Measure R” Campaign—connecting the enormous region of LA County with one seamless transit system . . .

    It must first be said that the very possibility of as well as the victory for Measure R in 2008 began with and depended heavily on the leadership of LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.  His election inspired and made credible the Measure R effort in the first place;  his influence in Congress, where barriers to the development of the “subway to the sea” were resolved, and his history of leadership in the state legislature and at the Metro Board, enabled the forging of the compromises and the convening of strong majorities needed for success;  his capacity for inspiration as the public voice of a transit transformation envisioned in Measure R; and his efforts to raise the $6+ million needed for a successful campaign were the foundations of victory for a transformative measure like Measure R.  The coalition that was built was cognizant that the Mayor of Los Angeles supported the effort.

    Still, it was Denny Zane, Move LA’s founder, who successfully pulled together the coalition of environmental, labor, and business leaders to partner with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to launch and build the necessary support for what would become Measure R on the November 2008 ballot. LA Metro’s most recent Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) had been approved in 2001 and included a list of rail, bus, highway, and other transportation improvements and expansions, including the Regional Connector, which had been envisioned as early as 1984. However, none of these projects had funding – that is, not until LA County voters approved Measure R.


    The Move LA campaign for Measure R started in 2007 when Zane, a former Mayor of Santa Monica and an environmental and affordable housing advocate, was stuck in impossible traffic on Olympic Blvd.  He lamented what looked to be a worsening future for the region, but then was reminded that Antonio Villaraigosa, the recently elected Mayor of the City of Los Angeles, had major transit ambitions.  Zane had worked with Villaraigosa when he was Speaker of the California State Assembly on the Carl Moyer Program, a clean air program to facilitate the development of clean alternatives to diesel-powered trucks.  Zane knew the new mayor was a devoted yet pragmatic environmentalist with an aspirational agenda for the region’s transit system – especially for the “Subway to the Sea” along Wilshire Blvd.  What Antonio would need to realize this vision would be very significant new funding, the scale and reliability of funding that only a ballot measure could provide. Making a successful ballot measure campaign possible would require a broad-based coalition. Organizing such a coalition became Zane’s mission.

    report issued by the Kitty & Michael Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy at Northeastern University identified  “a coalition of environmental, business and labor groups called “Move LA” whose enthusiasm got the ball rolling for the ballot measure”  that would come to be called Measure R. 

    In the fall of 2007, Denny Zane convened 34 business entities and organizations in the office of Dan Rosenfeld, Chair of the LA Chamber Transportation Committee.  These groups represented the diverse leadership of the Los Angeles business community.  Zane presented to them the idea of a ballot measure campaign to raise very significant funding to implement Metro’s LRTP.  All present expressed their support for the idea.

    Zane approached the President of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Maria Elena Durazo, with whom he had worked while she was the president of Unite HERE Local 11.  Denny convinced Maria Elena that to address our county’s transportation needs, LA County voters would need to approve significant new funding to invest in the county transit system.  Maria Elena convened the necessary committees at the LA County Fed and set it up for Zane to make a series of presentations and gain support from her membership.  Led by Sergio Rascon, Business Manager of Laborers Local 300, the LA-OC Building Trades Council would soon also join the growing coalition.

    These were the first big steps toward the development of a Measure R coalition. 

    But the transformational moment was a major conference in January 2008 entitled “It’s Time to Move LA” at the Los Angeles Cathedral Conference Center.  The program was organized to make a cogent case for a ballot measure:  LA Metro should ask LA County voters to approve a half-cent sales tax measure to fund major transit investments, including the “Subway to the Sea” along Wilshire Blvd.  The effort worked.  People left the conference largely convinced.  California State Assemblymember Mike Feuer left the meeting and initiated the authorizing legislation in Sacramento necessary for Metro to sponsor a local sales tax measure.  The new Metro Chair Pam O’Connor, Mayor of Santa Monica and a longtime colleague of Zane’s there, prepared a motion to get the process started at the next Metro Board meeting. 

    But LA Supervisor and Metro Board member Zev Yaroslavsky and Metro Board member Richard Katz were still skeptical, doubting whether voters would vote to tax themselves. 

    Zane knew he had to convince Yaroslavsky and Katz (who was actually a willing partner in the effort to convince Zev).  He knew he needed to find funding for polling on the potential measure to show voter support – and he found it from an unexpected source:  the new President of Santa Monica College, Dr. Chui Tsang, agreed to provide $25K to fund the poll.  Dr Tsang and the college were hoping the measure would complete funding to extend the Exposition Light Rail to Santa Monica with a stop within walking distance to SMC. (A good bet as it turned out.)

    When this first polling was complete, it determined that 69% of LA County voters said they would vote Yes on a 1/2 cent sales tax to invest in major transit and other improvements in LA County.  Great, but still just a little above the 2/3 voter approval that would be needed. After Zane shared the Move LA polling results, Metro itself and Mayor Villaraigosa did their own polling, each of which found support over 70% Yes.  The Measure R ball was now rolling!

    The Dukakis Report said “it is fair to say that without Zane there would not have been a Measure R campaign. Zane’s ability to bring people together and his willingness to take a risk kick-started this effort and likely carried it through. Zane’s success in bringing together representatives from the environmental, labor, and business communities, who had never worked together before and literally had never visited each others’ offices, and getting them to agree to collaborate, sent a powerful signal to decision-makers. As a result, elected officials, including the Mayor and Metro board members, realized that tackling the transportation revenue problem in 2008 had legs, which brought to the table not only their support but also their leadership.”

    Move LA was born out of the need to get a two-thirds majority to pass a tax measure in California —an incredibly high threshold.  This necessitated a broad coalition to appeal to voters throughout the entire county. As Denny recounted for this story written by David Dayen in the American Prospect, he had to “scrounge a $15,000 grant for meeting space and $25,000 for a poll”  to show decision makers what was possible, and the rest was history:

     “Move LA's plan proved compelling enough to persuade the Metro board to devise Measure R (for “relief”), which would go before voters on the November 2008 ballot. Metro's board settled on a 30-year, half-cent sales tax increase, raising $30 billion to $40 billion for 12 specific rail, subway, and road projects. Zane initially balked at the regressive tax choice, but studies showed that businesses and tourists paid more than half of all sales taxes because of California's many exemptions for necessities.”

    Measure R, which provided the major funding for the Regional Connector, which opened this past June 16, and the Exposition Light Rail Line and is providing the major funding for the Wilshire Subway and several other light rail and bus rapid transit lines, passed with 67.9% of the vote in November 2008.

    It was the promise of a bold vision—one that would reduce traffic by connecting Los Angeles in one seamless system with a Long Beach to Pasadena, or East L.A. to Santa Monica trip without a transfer, provide a direct connection to the airport and a subway from DTLA to Westwood—that won over community leaders, elected officials, and voters.

  • MeasureHLogo_Final3.jpgWhile Move LA had built its reputation for policy and coalition building and campaign skills with measures focused on investments in LA County’s transit system, transportation was not the only interest of the organization and its leadership. The need for enhanced affordable housing development and for services for the homeless population had been part of Denny Zane’s priorities as a Santa Monica councilmember and mayor. Indeed, Santa Monica’s affordable housing production efforts and system of services for the homeless were widely admired in California. . . .

    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.