DOWNTOWN — In a landslide, Santa Monica voters approved a half percent sales tax hike on Tuesday and overwhelmingly urged City Hall to spend half of the estimated $12 million the increase is expected to raise to fund local public schools.

The tax, known as Measure Y, passed with 61 percent of voters in favor and 39 percent opposed. It required only a simple majority to succeed.

The higher sales tax rate of 10.25 percent will take effect April 1, 2011.

Voters also sent a strong message to the City Council by backing the advisory ballot item Measure YY with 68 percent of the vote. The advisory urged the council to commit half of the new revenue to education programs.

Revenue not spent on schools would go into the general fund, giving the council wide latitude over how it’s spent. The measure’s official language stated the money would be used for “police, fire, paramedic and emergency 911 response, school, educational and after school programs, public transit, services for the disabled, gang and drug prevention programs, environmental, library and other general fund services.”

The campaign to pass the measure drew support from the education community, which viewed the sales tax hike as a replacement for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s failed parcel tax proposal that was defeated in a special election held in May. The parcel tax, which required two-thirds of the vote to pass, was narrowly defeated.

Leaders of the Yes on Y campaign hailed its passage as a benefit for the schools and for the broader community.

“Everyone in Santa Monica benefits from great schools and safe neighborhoods. They make Santa Monica one of the most desirable places to live in the state and in the nation,” said Tom Larmore, co-chair of the campaign.

Measure RR passes

Voters also overwhelmingly approved Measure RR, which grants greater eviction protections to renters.

The measure adds requirements that a landlord show good cause to evict any tenant and serve a warning notice giving reasonable time to correct a rental agreement violation, except if the violation is nonpayment of rent.

It also adds a prohibition against evicting long-term elderly tenants, disabled or terminally ill tenants for owner occupancy unless the proposed owner-occupant is also elderly, disabled or terminally ill, or a relative who plans to live in the unit falls into one of those categories.

Measure RR received 65 percent of the vote.

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