The Santa Monica City Council has taken positions on a pair of state ballot measures, formally supporting a proposal to expand rent control protections and opposing an effort to repeal a statewide gas tax. Council has also voted to support a new county tax to support clean water efforts.

The Council Discussion items occur at the end of the meeting are specific requests from councilmembers. The items often schedule future discussions but can be used to ask the City to support broader issue.

Councilmembers Terry O’Day and Pam O’Connor asked the council to oppose Proposition 6.

If passed, Prop 6 would repeal gas and diesel taxes enacted in 2017. It would also require voter approval for future increases to fuel or vehicle taxes. Repealing the tax would reduce or eliminate money used to pay for current transit projects.

Staff said that Santa Monica would lose state funding for projects such as Safe Routes to Schools, electrification of Big Blue Bus vehicles and the City’s Vision Zero bicycle/pedestrian safety plan.

“What Prop 6 would do, it would have a negative impact on our mobility not only in Santa Monica but the region, the county and the state of California,” said O’Connor.

She said reducing money for road maintenance would make travel more dangerous and a lack of funding for public transit projects would increase pollution.

“It’s going to make air quality worse because it’s going to eliminate funds dedicated to expanding rail transit lines, buses, and public transportation,” she said. “Those are the services that directly reduce air pollution and carbon emissions that cause climate change.”

While Councilmember O’Day had asked for the discussion, he had left the meeting before the midnight discussion but the remaining six councilmembers unanimously voted to oppose Prop 6.

The six-person council also unanimously voted to expand rent control protections throughout the state.

The Costa Hawkins act allows rent-controlled units to be set to market rate rents when a tenant leaves. Measure 10 repeals Costa Hawkins and allows local jurisdictions to maintain control of rents in private buildings covered by rent control. If repealed, rents would be set by the Rent Control Board, not landlords and the prevailing markets.

“Repeal of Costa Hawkins is one of the most important things that could return a semblance of affordability to Santa Monica and it’s one of our council priorities to keep our diversity in this town and the repeal of Costa Hawkins would certainly move towards that ends,” said Councilman Kevin McKeown.

Council also voted to support a county measure that would generate approximately $300 Million by implementing a parcel tax of 2.5 cents per square foot of impermeable surface area on private property in the LA County Flood Control District.

“Proceeds would be used to protect coastal waters and beaches from trash and contaminants in stormwater, to recapture billions of gallons of stormwater that currently are lost, and require strict community oversight to ensure that local monies stay local,” said the agenda item.

“While we as a city have been very proactive about addressing stormwater measures other cities have not been able to do so simply because they do not have the resources,” said Councilwoman Gleam Davis. “This is a countywide solution to provide resources that we will begin to see other communities begin to deal with in their stormwater issues.”

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...