Election Roundup: Planning's Big Day at the Ballot Box

Beyond the headline-grabbing presidential election, many states and localities voted on issues critical to the planning profession.

November 9, 2016, 2:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell


Donald Trump

Andrew Cline / Shutterstock

[Updated, Nov. 10, 9:31 AM]

The entire world knows that Donald Trump is now the president-elect of the United States of America, but many people were asleep when he took to the stage in New York and delivered a victory speech that began with a promise to rebuild the country.

We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We're going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.

Those lines were spoken like a developer—not the leader of the Republican party and the country—so President-elect Trump's ability to follow through on those ambitious promises will very much be a topic of conversation over the next four to eight years.

The news on the environmental front seems less-than-optimistic for the hopes of a truce between the factions in American politics exacerbated by the long campaign. In the first day following the election, President-elect Trump has appointed climate skeptic Myron Ebell to lead his EPA transition team.

Looking around the country at the various state and local measures under consideration, the folks at the Eno Center for Transportation and Yonah Freemark of The Transport Politic blog [Google Drive], tracked the big transit and transportation ballot measures considered by the public yesterday.

Here are the results so far, and we'll continue to update this article as we find more results.


Bay Area, California. Voters approved the Measure RR transportation bond to fund improvements to the Bay Area Rapid Transit system.

East Bay Area, California. Voters in Alameda and Contra Costa counties approved Measure C1, which extends property taxes to fund AC Transit.

Contra Costa County, California. Voters rejected the Measure X half-cent sales tax.

Los Angeles County, California. Voters approved Measure M, a half-cent sales tax, to fund transportation improvements, including large investments in the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority system.

Sacramento County, California. Voters failed to reach the two-thirds vote threshold to approve Measure B, a half-cent transportation sales tax.

San Diego County, California. Voters failed to reach the two-thirds vote necessary to approve Measure A, a half-cent sales tax proposed by the  San Diego Association of Government to fund transportation investments.

Santa Clara County, California. Voters approved Measure B, which enacts a half-cent sales tax to fund an estimated $6.5 billion in transit upgrades for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA).

Broward County, Florida. Voters did not approve a Transit Sales Tax, in a complicated matter of dueling referenda.

Atlanta, Georgia. Voters approved a sales tax to fund transit improvements in the MARTA system.

Fulton County, Georgia. Voters approved a sales tax for 13 cities in the suburban county of Fulton to fund improvements in roads, bridges, sidewalks and other transportation infrastructure components. Irvin Dawid covered both the Fulton County and Atlanta sales tax measures in July 2016.

State of Illinois. Voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring all transportation fees and taxes be spent on transportation projects.

Marion County, Indiana. Voters approved Proposition 145 (Marion County Transit Plan referendum). Planetizen documented the support for the referendum among faith communities in an August article.

Detroit Region, Michigan. Voters failed to approve a four-county regional transit plan, funded by a property tax increase, according to Yonah Freemark on Twitter.

State of New Jersey. Voters approved a Question 2, which will hike gas taxes 23 cents per gallon, but also ensure funds raised by the new tax go to transportation projects.

Wake County, North Carolina. Voters approved a transit tax to fund GoTriangle's efforts in implementing the Wake Transit Plan.

Charleston County, South Carolina. Voters approved a half-cent transportation sales tax. "About $600 million will go to the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority to improve its fleet of buses and develop the area’s first bus rapid transit system," reports Abigail Darlington.

Arlington, Virginia. Voters approved $30 million in general obligation bonds for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's capital improvement program, according to the Eno Center for Transportation

Kitsap County, Washington. In a close race to close to call, the Proposition 1 sales tax to raise funds for a new ferry service, is slightly ahead.

Seattle Region, Washington. Sound Transit Proposition 1, also known as Sound Transit 3 or ST3, has a strong lead in its regional vote. ST3 would increase property, sales, and car-tab taxes.

Spokane, Washington. Voters approved Proposition 1, according to The Transport Politic.

Miscellaneous Infrastructure

Los Angeles, California. Voters approved Measure HHH, to issue bonds to fund new housing options for the city's large homeless population.

San Francisco, California. Voters approved Measure J to create new funds for transportation and homelessness, but it's efficacy is attached to Measure K, below. See also Planetizen correspondent Irvin Dawid's comment below.

San Francisco, California. Voters overwhelmingly rejected Measure K, according to The Transport Politic. Measure K would have raised a sales tax to replenish the General Fund and enabled Measure J.

San Francisco, California. Voters approved $260.7 million general obligation bonds. The approval repurposes bonds originally approved by voters in 1992 "to fund the purchase and improvement of buildings in need of safety upgrades in order to covert them intro affordable housing."

State of California. Voters approved Proposition 51, a $9 billion school construction that some critics feared would encourage sprawl and neglect existing urban schools.

State of California. Voters narrowly rejected Proposition 53, which would have set a trigger requiring referendum for infrastructure bonds larger than $3 billion. The Proposition was considered an obstacle to the state's plans for tunnels around the Bay Delta and the California High Speed Rail project.

State of Florida. Voters rejected the controversial Amendment 1, which "establishes the right of consumers to generate solar electricity for their own use." But environmentalists and renewable energy advocates said it would actually have the opposite of its intended effects.

State of Hawaii. The Eno Center for Transportation reports that a statewide vote in Hawaii shifts shifted operations and maintenance responsibilities from the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) to the Honolulu Department of Transportation. According to the Eno Center for Transportation, the vote sets "a precedent for voters changing a transit agency’s governance."

State of Louisiana. Voters approved Amendment 5, the Louisiana Transportation Fund and Revenue Allocation. Amendment 5 will allow oil and gas revenue and corporate taxes to fill the newly created Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund. Once that fund reaches $5 billion, it can be sued to fund construction projects and roadwork.

State of Nevada. Voters approved Question 3, the "Energy Choice Initiative." Voters will have to approve the proposed constitutional amendment again in 2018 before it can take effect.

State of Washington. Voters rejected Initiative 732, which would have imposed a carbon tax on fossil fuels. The carbon tax would have created a model for climate change efforts in the country and the world.

Land Use Regulation

Ballotpedia offers a list of the local ballot measures on the subject of marijuana regulation.

Ballotpedia offers a list of zoning and land use regulation measures on local ballots.

Los Angeles, California. Voters approved Measure JJJ, championed by local labor unions to incentivize their participation in the development of affordable housing.

Monterey County, California. Voters approved an amendment to the Monterey County General Plan, Local Coastal Program, and Fort Ord Master Plan that prohibits the use of hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking.

San Diego County, California. Voters rejected Measure B, which would have allowed the construction of 1,700 homes on farmland in Valley Center. A September editorial called Measure B "ballot box planning at its worst." 

San Diego County, California. Voters rejected Measure C—a proposal to build a football stadium with more than a billion dollars in public funding.

San Francisco, California. Voters rejected Measure M, which would have amended the city's charter to create a Housing and Development Commission to oversee two new departments (the Department of Economic and Workforce Development and the Department of Housing and Community Development).

San Francisco, California. Voters rejected Proposition P, which would have required the city to receive three development proposals and set standards for the creation of affordable housing whenever it developed city-owned land.

San Francisco, California. Voters approved Proposition U, which would increase "the income eligibility limit for on-site rental units in all new and existing below-market-rate housing," according to an article from October by Laura Dudnick.

Santa Monica, California. Voters "resoundingly" rejected Measure LV, which would have required voter approval for projects over 32 feet tall.

Columbus, Ohio. Results for the "Community Bill of Rights" fracking ban was pulled from the ballot in September 2016 due to an action of the Ohio Supreme Court.

Oklahoma. Voters rejected State Question 777, the Right to Farm Amendment. 

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