Voter’s Edge California
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League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
KPBS Voters Guide@KPBSNews
November 6, 2018 — Elección General de California

City of Laguna Beach
Measure P - Majority Approval Required

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Resultados electorales

No se aprueba

6,029 votos si (46.2%)

7,034 votos no (53.8%)

100% de distritos activos (16/16).

Laguna Beach Utility Undergrounding and Fire Safety Measure
— undefined

Shall the measure to improve emergency evacuation and access routes, 9-1-1 emergency response in case of disaster, and help reduce wildfire risk by moving overhead wires underground on Laguna Canyon Road, key evacuation routes, and other areas, and providing other fire safety measures and improvements, by levying a one-percent (1%) dedicated sales tax for 25 years raising approximately $5.6 million annually, requiring financial audits, with all funds for Laguna Beach only, be adopted?

¿Qué es esta propuesta?

Información básica sobre la iniciativa de ley — Información oficial sobre esta iniciativa

Un voto por el SÍ significa

A “yes” vote on Measure P is a vote to adopt an ordinance approving a dedicated 1% increase in the sales tax.

Un voto por el NO significa

A “no” vote on Measure P is a vote against adoption of the ordinance.

Análisis del analista legislativo / Proposal

Laguna Beach City Attorney

This ballot measure, if approved by the voters, would adopt an ordinance enacting a one percent (1%) increase in the transactions (sales) and use tax rate in the City of Laguna Beach, hereinafter referred to as “sales tax.” The current sales tax rate in the City is 7.75%. Thus, if the ordinance is adopted, the sales tax rate for taxable purchases would increase to 8.75%. The sales tax increase would be effective for a period of 25 years, unless terminated earlier by the voters.

The sales tax increase is a special tax and therefore requires a 2/3 majority vote for adoption. As a special tax, all new tax proceeds must be placed and accounted for in a separate fund dedicated for overhead utility undergrounding and related and complementary fire safety projects only, including the following:

  • A preliminary list of potential undergrounding projects along Laguna Canyon Road and certain key evacuation routes identified in the ordinance. The City Council may remove, modify or prioritize listed projects due to cost, environmental impacts, feasibility, and related considerations.
  • Payment for, or construction of, private property utility connections to underground facilities.
  • Bond issuance, debt service on indebtedness, and reserve fund costs for approved projects.
  • Fire safety measures, with illustrative examples described in the ordinance.
  • Projects and programs providing complementary fire safety improvements based on emerging technologies.

The increased sales tax proceeds cannot be used for any other purpose, and specifically cannot be used to add vehicle travel lanes to Laguna Canyon Road, or for salaries of existing personnel, pensions, unfunded pension liabilities, or additional facilities, including fire or police stations. The ordinance also expresses the voters’ intent that increased sales tax proceeds shall supplement, rather than supplant, existing City expenditures for overhead utility undergrounding and fire safety, and that the City shall continue to pursue and utilize alternative sources of funding for those purposes.

The ordinance requires the City Council to establish or designate an audit and oversight committee to review annually the expenditures of the increased sales tax proceeds and to provide a public report regarding the conformity of the expenditures to the provisions of the ordinance.

A “yes” vote on Measure P is a vote to adopt an ordinance approving a dedicated 1% increase in the sales tax.

A “no” vote on Measure P is a vote against adoption of the ordinance.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Argumento A FAVOR

Twenty-five years after the 1993 fire damaged or destroyed 441 homes in Laguna Beach causing $528 million in property loss we remain extremely vulnerable to wildfires. The 200 acre June 2018 fire is the most recent reminder of this risk.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection determined that power lines caused recent devastating fires that burned 180,000 acres, destroyed 3,000 structures, and took 18 lives. Despite this destruction, utility companies have refused the City’s request to fund undergrounding costs.

Downed power lines have caused past fires in Laguna Beach and will cause future fires unless we act now.

Downed lines can block emergency evacuation routes and hinder access by emergency responders.

The extreme fire risk from overhead power lines and refusal by utility companies to help led the City to develop a local plan, supported by our Fire and Police Chiefs, to fund utility undergrounding and other fire safety measures.

Measure P addresses fire risk and is vital to the safety of our entire community.

Measure P will provide dedicated funding to move dangerous utility poles and wires underground along Laguna Canyon Road and other key evacuation routes, and implement additional fire safety measures.

Measure P will reduce the risk of wildfires, improve 9-1-1 emergency response times, and make Laguna Beach safer in emergencies and natural disasters.

The Visit Laguna Beach 2016 Visitor Profile & Economic Study estimated that visitors paid $3.8 million in sales taxes in 2016. This represents 67% of the sales taxes collected in the City in 2016.

It costs the City millions of dollars each year to provide services to more than 6 million visitors. Visitors should pay their fair share to protect residents, our homes and businesses. A Yes vote on Measure P will make sure that they do.

Vote Yes on Measure P.



The following individuals signed the official argument in favor of the measure:[1]

  • Kelly Boyd, mayor, city of Laguna Beach
  • Rob Zur Schmiede, mayor pro tem, city of Laguna Beach
  • Bob Whalen, council member, city of Laguna Beach
  • Michael Garcia, fire chief, city of Laguna Beach
  • Laura Farinella, police chief, city of Laguna Beach
— Ballotpedia

Argumento EN CONTRA

Here we go again! City fearmongering about the 1993 and recent June fire, both of which were caused by humans, not downed utility poles or wires. This tax measure is not vital, it’s disingenuous. It’s got little to do with fire danger.

Random undergrounding won’t guarantee our safety. We have faith and confidence in Laguna’s fire department and the aggressive fire safety measures put in place since 1993, including:

  • Aggressive new Cal-Fire regulations for annual utility pole safety inspections & pole reinforcement
  • New large water tanks, fuel modification, weed abatement, tree trimming, goats, & defensible space requirements
  • Fire Retardant roofs, paints & other building materials
  • At least 40 safety surveillance cameras strategically placed around the City & Laguna Canyon monitored 24/7, and 3 drones for early fire warnings
  • Substantial increase in the number of firefighters & state of art equipment.

These are the vital fire safety prevention measures that have a proven record of keeping us safe. We do not have to raise our sales tax to spend more on fire safety.

Visitor studies are unsubstantiated and simply a tool to promote tourism. 95% of all visitors to Laguna are day trippers spending little money. Residents will bear the burden of these taxes, not tourists. Local businesses have it tough enough. This tax will make it even harder for businesses to survive, and some may have to close.

Don’t be fooled. Pay as we go.

Vote NO on Measure P.


  • Jennifer W. Zeiter, co-founder/president, Stop Taxing Our Property
  • Carolyn Cavecche, CEO/president, Orange County Taxpayers Association
  • David Rubel, president, Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce and Civic Association
  • Emil Monda, resident/security consultant
— Ballotpedia

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