L.A. Now

L.A. politicians will explore a possible tax or bond measure to help the homeless

To raise money for a sweeping new plan to combat homelessness in Los Angeles, city lawmakers are asking their top analysts to outline the steps needed to put a tax or bond measure on the ballot.

L.A. needs more than $1.85 billion during the next decade to fund the strategies suggested in a report released last week by city budget analysts.

The report included a long list of ways to help raise the money, including several that must be approved by voters, such as a sales tax or bond.

To advance that plan, City Council members Jose Huizar, Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Herb Wesson introduced a proposal Tuesday to ask city officials to recommend “the most appropriate revenue sources” and what steps should be taken to put them on the ballot.

Their proposal did not single out any particular tax or bond as a preferred option. Nor did it specify how much money the city would try to seek at the ballot box. That remains to be hashed out when city analysts come back with their report, Harris-Dawson said.

Whatever form it takes, “I think there is a consensus across the city that something needs to be done,” the councilman said. He added that their goal would be to put something on the November ballot.

Bonin said last week that he was willing to make a pitch to local voters for a bond or tax. Homelessness "is the No. 1 issue I hear about from all over my district," he said. "I think if we can show that we have an actual strategy, they’d be willing to invest in it.”

Political consultant Michael Trujillo said that November would be the best timing for such a measure, since turnout is likely to be high, attracting a “more progressive electorate.”

But Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, questioned whether the fall ballot would be so crowded that its chances would suffer.

“I think the voters can be convinced to raise taxes. But they can only be convinced so many times at one time,” he said. “And there’s already going to be an awful lot of taxes on this fall ballot.”

The idea of pursuing a tax or bond measure will be heard next by a council committee focused on homelessness and poverty.

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