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Saturday, Jul 20, 2024

Property Measures a Bust

By MICHAEL AUSHENKER Staff Reporter The March 3 California election saw a pair of wildly different initiatives tied to real estate property defeated at the ballot in two different markets — Burbank and Calabasas. Burbank blues The final count has not been made on Burbank Unified School District Measure I, also known as the California Parcel Tax; however, the measure appears to be headed toward defeat. The ballot question was as follows: “To maintain high-quality Burbank schools by retaining excellent teachers; protecting small class sizes; and maintain/expand career/college courses, art, music, science, innovative programs, safety and wellness support, shall this Burbank Unified School District measure to levy $0.10 per square foot of improved property per parcel annually, exempting seniors/certain disability recipients, providing approximately $9.1 million in annual local funding for 12 years and requiring independent oversight/audits, be approved?” A “yes” vote would have supported authorizing the district to levy for 12 years an annual parcel tax of 10 cents per square foot of improved property, thereby raising an estimated $9.1 million in revenue. Based on the average home, most residents would pay about $14 a month with seniors qualifying for exemption. The proposal included increasing class sizes, eliminating elementary physical education teachers and cutting college and career readiness programs. Opponents to the measure argued that property owners would likely pass the cost onto tenants, which would translate into a rent increase. Opposing the measure would also play into the notions of those who believe that schools should devote resources to English and math while eschewing the arts and physical education. A two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote was required for approval. At press time, the votes were still being tallied, as 62.9 percent (15,731 votes) voted “yes” while 37.08 percent (9,272 votes) voted “no,” threatening to leave the existing tax rates in place. According to Spectrum News, Burbank’s school board voted to pink slip 30 teachers and P.E. instructors ahead of Measure I’s defeat because the board was worried about not having enough funds to subsidize certain classes. At press time, Burbank Unified School District Superintendent Matt Hill told the Business Journal that it is still too early to comment on the matter. ‘We are still waiting for the final vote count,” he said. “There are still over 60,000 votes countywide. I’d be happy to talk when the results are final.” Calabasas controversy Measure N, the Avalon Calabasas Property Development Project Initiative, did not prevail as 77.46 percent of voters rejected it. Only 22.54 percent of Calabasas voters favored the measure. The ballot question: “Shall the Initiative Ordinance No. 2020-380 amending the Calabasas General Plan and Municipal Code and adopting a new Specific Plan allowing up to 161 new market-rate apartment units, within an existing 600-unit apartment complex at 3831 North Orchid Lane, Calabasas, CA, requiring at least 10 percent of the complex’s units be reserved for 55 years as deed-restricted affordable units, designating 60 units for moderate income households and 20 units for very-low income households, be adopted?” A simple majority would have approved the measure. A “yes” vote approved the proposed Calabasas General Plan and Municipal Code amendments and specific plan, allowing up to 161 new market-rate apartment units with specified conditions, including the requirement to set aside 80 units for affordable housing for 55 years, at the Avalon Calabasas apartment complex. However, most participants in this election cast a “no” vote, rejecting the proposed expansion and its enabling proposed Calabasas General Plan and Municipal Code amendments and specific plan. Last fall, Calabasas garnered unwanted attention from both Los Angeles County and the State of California for its inability to meet minimum affordable housing goals. The 2014-22 Regional Housing Needs Assessment required Calabasas to construct 330 new units, 199 of which would be rent-restricted affordable housing. But since 2014, Calabasas had lost a net 146 affordable housing units. During a City Council meeting on Nov. 21, proponents and opponents virtually broke along generational lines, with senior residents fearing the new development would increase danger in the wildfire zone. Yet younger locals, many of them residents at the Avalon Bay complex, wanted to see the 80 households in the affordable units stay put. Unprotected rent increases would price them out of living in Calabasas, they said. Last November, Mary Hubbard, president of Malibu Canyon Community Association, told Calabasas City Council — at the time comprised of then-Mayor David Shapiro, Fred Gaines, Alicia Weintraub, Mary Sue Maurer and James Bozajian — that she was “very much offended by the presentation” of the developer and she resented the “scare tactics” used by Avalon Bay. “We need to come up with a different system of this expiring housing system,” she said. “The city has got to come up with a way that doesn’t put the burden on the west side of the city.” Attorney Edgar Khalatian, partner at Mayer Brown’s Los Angeles office, spoke on behalf of Avalon Bay. “Given the hand we’ve been dealt, this is the best route to meet the (housing) requirements,” Khalatian said. “We did everything we could to follow the city’s plans. We are trying to find a balance that works for everybody.” Also supporting the development was L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl; Valley Industry & Commerce Association; and United Way of Greater Los Angeles. Following the contentious Nov. 21 meeting, Calabasas City Council decided by a 3-2 vote to put a proposal about adding 11 buildings with 161 housing units on the ballot for city voters on March 3. With the electoral defeat, Avalon Bay’s 80 affordable units are set to expire in June. With the March defeat of the measure, according to the organization Calabasas Cares, the city of Calabasas risks not meeting its affordable housing quota and becoming the next Huntington Beach, a community that was stripped of certain privileges by the state of California for not providing enough affordable housing. “With the recent warning letter from the state, the city now faces the potential of new low-income housing being constructed without regard for hillsides and other impacts,” the organization said in a statement to the Business Journal.

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