I once saw a T-shirt that proudly declared, “I put the ‘pro’ in procrastination.” Though most of us won’t admit it, it’s human nature to put off tasks that we don’t really want to do. We all know that “later” always comes sooner than expected.
But this election year, the business community can’t afford to procrastinate. As 12 statewide ballot measures and even more local measures head to voters, the time to pay attention is now.
It’s easy to be distracted by flashy ballot measures, like the initiative to split California into three states or the effort to have year-round Daylight Saving Time in California. Thanks to frontpage coverage by various news outlets, nearly every Californian is talking about these two ballot measures. They’re fun to debate, and yes, they may have an impact on business. But there are some serious measures, which may not be as much fun to debate but will shape California’s economy for decades to come. And it’s these ballot measures which we need to start fighting for or against today.
The war against California’s housing crisis has been waged for decades, and an effort to repeal the protections against rent control in the Costa-Hawkins Act has finally made it onto the ballot. If Proposition 10 passes, local municipalities will be allowed to impose rent control on all types of housing, including single-family homes. We know that rent control reduces the supply of housing, making our housing crisis even worse. Rent control causes rental rates to increase as tenants compete for fewer available units. Developers can do the math: they know that with rent control, their projects simply won’t pencil out. Allowing rent control will restrict investment in our communities, hurt the economy, drive young families out of California and exacerbate the homelessness crisis.
Another ballot measure is a partisan attack on critical funding for roads and transportation infrastructure. The San Fernando Valley economy is completely dependent on safe roads and up-to-date transportation infrastructure. The business community fought hard to increase funding for major transportation projects, including the East San Fernando Valley corridor. This funding is threatened by Proposition 6, which tries to stop these projects moving forward.
Of course, there are many more ballot measures, such as an interesting one to allow older homeowners to retain their property tax base when they move. The intent of Proposition 5 is to get more housing stock on the market, opening opportunities for younger families. There are several bond measures, including Proposition 1, which will increase the supply of affordable housing and help veterans purchase homes. Proposition 3 is a carefully considered water bond measure which will ensure a safe and reliable water supply for the Valley.
I haven’t even started with the local measures – another column, I am sure. But I think I’ve made my point. Business needs to stay engaged so we can protect California’s ability to support a world-class economy. We can’t procrastinate. We have to pull together today.
Stuart Waldman is president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, a business advocacy organization based in Van Nuys that represents employers in the San Fernando Valley at the local, state and federal levels of government.