Voters Buck Conventional Wisdom on Growth and Taxes

Here's a big surprise on the local scene. The conventional wisdom held that taxes and bond measures would fail thanks to the bad economy. But it appears Measure R (the transportation tax hike), the statewide high-speed rail bond and the LAUSD school bond are passing. Additionally, the much-discussed Santa Monica anti-growth ordinance was going down in defeat despite the big-name endorsement. From The Times' Martha Groves:

In Santa Monica, a citizens initiative to cap commercial development was defeated. Measure T, aimed at curbing future traffic growth, drew stiff opposition from developers, hotel interests, law firms and a broad coalition of local agencies and organizations. It would have limited the construction of hotels, retail shops and offices to 75,000 square feet a year, about half the current level, for 15 years. Opponents said the cap would hamper the city's ability to remain a regional shopping and employment center and would make it harder for the city to promote mixed-use and transit-oriented projects. Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl joined Santa Monica Councilmen Bobby Shriver and Kevin McKeown in supporting the measure.

The one wildcard -- in a very tight race -- is the controversial hotel ballot measure in Beverly Hills, which was trailing slightly:

The measure would amend the city's general plan to allow the Beverly Hilton to build a 12-story Waldorf-Astoria hotel and two luxury condo towers at its site. Proponents praised the $500-million project's potential to pour tens of millions of dollars in hotel taxes into the city treasury in future years to help fund vital city services.

Education bonds: Tax proposals that needed less than two-thirds of the votes cast had an easier time. Measure Q, a $7-billion facilities bond issue backed by the Los Angeles Unified School District, cruised to an easy victory. Measure J, a $3.5-billion bond measure to rebuild and replace campus facilities in the Los Angeles Community College District, also won strong support. Those measures needed only 55% to pass.

-- Shelby Grad

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