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Election 2018 Results: Local and State Land Use, Transportation, Housing, and Infrastructure
So much of the attention paid to this election as potentially the most consequential midterm in modern history was devoted to the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives—and the likelihood of a "Blue Wave" as a check on the excesses of the Trump administration.
The familiar warmth of the media firestorm surrounding President Trump flared up in recent weeks with news of last minute campaigning (in person and in a racist advertisement that even Fox News wouldn't run), accusations of voter suppression, and, finally, dramatic shifts in the House of Representatives and the governor's mansions of the country. It was hard to find information, much less keep focus, on the local and statewide ballot measures facing voters this tear.
Planetizen spent the last several months wading through the mainstream punditry to check on as many state and local elections pertaining to planning as possible, just like we did in 2016. We hope this effort will help Planetizen readers stay current on the public opinion and legal standing of land use, development, transportation, infrastructure, and the environment in cities and states around the country, despite the world's best efforts to distract us.
We will continue updating this post throughout the week as we encounter more election results.
State of Alaska. Voters rejected Ballot Measure 1, also known as the Stand for Salmon initiative. The measure would have increased protections for salmon by significantly toughening the environmental permitting process for mines, dams and oil developments in salmon habitat.
County of Anne Arundel, Maryland. Voters approved Measure A, which requires notices on affected properties when amendments to the comprehensive zoning ordinance are under consideration.
City of Austin. Voters rejected Proposition J, which would have adopted a new ordinance to implement "a waiting period and voter approval period before future revisions to the City of Austin’s land development code can become effective." Proposition J grew out of the controversies surrounding the city's failed CodeNEXT comprehensive zoning code reform effort.
City of Brisbane. Voters appear to have narrowly approved Measure JJ, which allows for 2,200 new residential units and 7 million square feet of new commercial development at the Baylands site in the city.
State of California. Voters rejected Proposition 5, which would have expanded property tax breaks created by Proposition 13 in 1978. The real estate industry designed Proposition 5 to provide an incentive to aging homeowners to move to a new location, and bring their property tax breaks with them.
State of Colorado. Voters rejected Amendment 74, which would have "allowed property owners to file a takings claim against the government when a government action or regulation reduces their property’s value."
State of Colorado. Voters rejected Proposition 112, which would have "dramatically [increased] oil and gas drilling setbacks from homes, businesses and waterways." The proposition was opposed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.
State of Connecticut. Voters approved Amendment 2, which requires "a public hearing on bills to authorize the transfer, sale, or disposal of state-owned properties, such as state parks, forests, and conserved lands, to non-state entities" and "a two-thirds vote of the Connecticut General Assembly to authorize the transfer, sale, or disposal of land under the control of the state agriculture or environmental protection departments." The need for Amendment 2 grew out of controversies surrounding the 2011 "Haddam Land Swap."
State of Florida. Voters rejected Amendment 1, which would have raised the homestead property tax exemption by $25,000 for homes worth more than $100,000, exempting the value between $100,000 and $125,000 of a home that serves as the owner's primary residence.
State of Florida. Voters approved Amendment 2, which implements a 10-percent cap on the annual increase of non-homestead property tax assessments.
State of Florida. Voters approved Proposition 9, which, among other seemingly unrelated actions, prohibits oil and gas drilling for exploration or extraction waters under state control off the state's coast.
State of Montana. Voters rejected Initiative 186, which "would have required the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to deny approval for any new hardrock mine unless it could provide 'clear and convincing evidence' that it will not require perpetual treatment of water." The decision not to approve I-186 is a victory for the state's mining interests.
City of New York. Voters approved Proposal 3, which imposes term limits on members of New York City community boards.
City of Santa Monica. Voters approved Measure SM, which will implement a new planning regime in the city that requires a supermajority of five votes by the City Council to "amend (a) the Land Use and Circulation Element or (b) Downtown Community Plan, where that amendment would increase the maximum height limit or floor area ratio in any land use designation, with exceptions for 100% Affordable Housing Projects and property owned by Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District." An article by Jenna Chandler provides more background on Measure SM.
County of Arlington, Virginia. Voters approved a $74.6 million transportation bond that includes $44 million for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority capital projects.
County of Broward, Florida. Voters approved a 30-year sales tax increase that will raise $357 million for transportation funding in the first year of implementation. According to the American Public Transportation Association, some of that funding could eventually be spent on electric bus and light rail projects.
State of California. Voters rejected Proposition 6, which would have repealed a statewide gas tax enacted in 2017.
State of Colorado. Voters rejected Proposition 109, "which would have directed the Colorado Department of Transportation to issue $3.5 billion in bonds for more than 60 road work projects across the state."
State of Colorado. Voters rejected Proposition 110, which would have increased the state sales tax to fund transportation projects. Money would have funded state highway projects (45 percent), county-level projects (20 percent), and investments in other modes of transportation (15 percent).
State of Connecticut. Voters approved Amendment 1, which creates a "lockbox" for transportation funding in the state.
County of Lewis, Washington. Voters rejected a proposed expansion of the county's Public Transportation Services Sales and Use Tax Levy. The sales tax expansion "would have funded the expansion of Twin Transit bus service to cover most of the county."
County of Loudon, Virginia. Voters approved a Transportation Projects Question that authorizes the county to issue general obligation bonds totaling over $152 million for road projects.
State of Louisiana. Voters approved Amendment 4, which ends the use of funding from the state's Transportation Trust Fund for traffic control by the state police.
State of Maine. Voters approved Question 3, "authorizing $106 million in general obligation bonds for transportation infrastructure projects."
State of Utah. Voters rejected Nonbinding Question 1, which offers voter guidance on a proposed gas tax increase of about ten cents per gallon to fund education and local roads.
State of New Mexico. Voters in Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Santa Fe, and Taos counties approved an extension of a regional transit gross receipts tax to fund the North Central Regional Transit District bus system.
County of Thurston, Washington. Voters approved Proposition 1, which "increases the sales tax by 0.4 percent in most urban Thurston County areas to boost the number of rapid-transit routes and add more frequent pickups" on the Intercity Transit system.
Housing and Miscellaneous Infrastructure
City of Austin. Voters approved all seven of the city's proposed municipal bonds, totaling $925 million to spend on housing and infrastructure. Approved bond packages will enable the investment of $250 million on affordable housing (Proposition A); $128 million for libraries, museums, and cultural arts (proposition B); $149 million for parks and recreation (Proposition C); $184 million for flood migration, open space, and water quality protection (Proposition D); and $160 million for transportation (proposition G).
City of Baltimore. Voters approved three local questions that enable bonds for affordable housing (Local Question A), economic development programs (Local Question C), and parks and recreation (Local Question D).
State of California. Voters approved Proposition 1, which authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds for housing-related programs, loans, grants, and projects and housing loans for veterans.
State of California. Voters approved Proposition 2, which authorizes the use of revenue from Proposition 63 (2004) —a 1 percent tax on income above $1 million—on $2 billion in revenue bonds for homelessness prevention housing for persons in need of mental health services.
State of California. A decision on Proposition 3 is still too close to call, as of 11:52 am on November 7. Proposition 3 would authorize bonds totaling $8.9 billion for water infrastructure projects, including a project to shore up the Friant-Kern Canal.
City of Denver. Voters approved Ballot Issue 7G, which increases property taxes for the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District.
City of Denver. Voters approved Measure 2A, which increases sales taxes to pay for improvements and maintenance at the city's parks.
County of Los Angeles. Voters have likely approved Measure W, which would create a new parcel tax to generate funding for new stormwater capture infrastructure. As of 11:45 am on November 7, the election results for Measure W were still semi-official, but supporters expect the measure to gain the two-thirds supermajority required for approval.
City of Mountain View. Voters approved Measure P, which implements an employee "head tax," also known locally as the "Google Tax." The tax is expected to generate $6 million a year for the city's general fund, though the city "has indicated [the funding] would be poured into efforts to reduce traffic congestion, enhance bicycle and pedestrian routes, and provide affordable housing and homeless services."
State of Oregon. Voters approved Measure 102, which "gives local governments more flexibility to use bond dollars for affordable housing developments." Measure 102 achieves that flexibility by removing a restriction that municipal funding for affordable projects can only be used on government-owned housing projects.
Portland Metropolitan Area. Voters in Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties approved Ballot Measure 26-199, which authorizes $652.8 million in bond funding to develop between 2,400 and 4,000 units of affordable housing.
State of Rhode Island. Voters approved Question 3, which authorizes $47.3 million in bond funding for environmental, water, and recreational projects.
City and County of San Francisco. Voters approved Proposition C, which "will raise some taxes on San Francisco’s largest and wealthiest companies and put the money toward funding homeless relief services."
Energy and Climate Change
State of Arizona. Voters rejected Proposition 127, which would have forced the state's electric companies to source half their energy from renewable sources by 2030.
State of Nevada. Voters approved Question 6, which requires the state's electricity providers to source 50 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
State of Oklahoma. Voters rejected Question 800, which would have amended the state constitution "to establish a fund for the investment of 5 percent of the state's oil and gas development tax revenue and for the annual transfer of 4 percent of the fund's capital to the general fund."
City of Portland. Voters approved Measure 26-201, the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Initiative, which implements a gross receipts tax to generate revenue for a clean energy fund.
State of Washington. Voters rejected Initiative 1631, which would have implemented a carbon pricing scheme for the state. This is the second defeat for a carbon pricing scheme in the state, and it prevents the formation of a de facto West Coast climate change coalition.