VIEWPOINT: No on Prop.1

Vote for sunsets and kittens, just remember to read the fine print.
Photo: Morgan Genser


What if there were a proposition on the March ballot: Beautiful Sunsets and Foster Care for Kittens?

Who is not for beautiful sunsets in California? Who would be against foster care for kittens? But like many California Proposition ballot labels, voters read the top line and then automatically vote in favor of the proposition, not reading the subsequent paragraphs.

Governor Gavin Newsom is supporting Proposition 1, “Treatment not Tents,” which will be on the March ballot. This is one that readers should examine beyond the headline.

Prop. 1 has been called another version of Project Roomkey (housing in hotels) and L.A. City’s Measure HHH (building apartments), because it supports the “housing first” concept. Although well meaning, Roomkey and HHH have done little to alleviate the large number of homeless on the streets.

If Prop. 1 passes, it promises 4,350 housing units will be built. It supposedly will also accommodate an additional 6,800 people for mental health/drug issues. The cost? It will add $6.38 billion to the state’s $80 billion bond debt (California’s homeless population as of January 2022 was 171,500.)

The measure will require counties to spend their mental health funds on housing programs. Counties will also forfeit federal matching funds for health care because the money would be spent on housing.

“Treatment not Tents” does not provide mental health help nor substance abuse treatment.

Who is joining Newsom in supporting this proposition? Building and construction trades, California Correctional Peace Officers, and the Kaiser Foundation. (Correctional officers signed an agreement, negotiated with Newsom’s administration, that is expected to cost more than $1 billion over three years, according to an August 2023 CalMatters story.) 

In 2020, Proposition 19 was sold to voters to help those who had lost homes in wildfires in “Property Tax Transfers, Exemptions, and Revenue for Wildfire Agencies and Counties Amendment.”

Helping those hurt by wildfires was a noble cause. But the fine print said that parents could no longer pass their home to a child without a tax increase if the child did not make that home their primary residence. Now many are working feverishly to “Repeal the Death Tax” (against Prop. 19) through an initiative to be placed on the 2024 ballot.

In 2020 CalMatters story, (“Critics Demand Fairer Prop Ballot Labels and Summaries, but Lawsuits Tend to Flame Out.”), “Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been sued six times for the way he has labeled and summarized some of this year’s most contentious ballot measures. That’s a modern record. No election cycle has seen more proposition summary battles since at least 2008, according to a CalMatters review of court filings.”

The language in many of the propositions is misleading and confusing. And, most residents are working long hours, or dealing with kids, and don’t have time to parse the long explanations. Too often voters decide by headlines – and unfortunately, that’s what some politicians hope you will do.

No to “Treatment not Tents.” Yes to “Sunsets and Kittens.”

Those living on the streets often have addiction and/or mental illness that needs to be treated. Services need to be provided with housing.

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