Measure J, the County Charter Amendment which will guarantee yearly locally generated, flexible revenue for housing, diversion youth programs, and mental health services, appears headed for victory with the support of more than 57% of voters.
Measure J directs the County to spend a minimum of 10% of its flexible, locally generated funds for homeless/housing, diversion, and youth and mental health services. Estimates by the County CEO’s office indicates that the reallocation will amount to between $360m and $490m annually of flexible, locally generated revenue. The Measure will be phased in to the full 10% over a three-year period and continue annually at the full percentage.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl who led the effort to place Measure J before voters, said, “We asked voters if they believed, as the Supervisors do, that now is the time to expand funding so that we can help more people move from custody, homelessness, and instability to long-term stability and care, and they said, resoundingly, yes! Measure J is a significant long-term step in gradually shifting County taxpayer dollars in a direction consistent with the public’s wishes and the Board’s vision for improving community health, safety and opportunity.”
“LA County voters know that maintaining the status quo to address homelessness, mental illness, and substance use disorders is unacceptable,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis who co-authored the motion to develop the Charter Amendment. “Based on the early results from Election Day, voters chose to support Measure J to reinvest resources, for those who have been systemically oppressed and neglected, by advancing alternatives to incarceration and restorative justice through investing in the community. They chose to break down old systems that bred inequality and inequity, and instead help build up a reimagined Los Angeles County. I said before, ‘what’s so frightening about putting this in front of the voters and having them decide?’ It looks like they have. I thank the voters for supporting a ‘care first, jail last’ approach, and look forward to co-creating with them.”
The CEO’s office, which manages the County budget, will integrate the 10% baseline into its annual budgetary process, and the budget will continue to be subject to annual approval by the Board of Supervisors in compliance with state law. Supervisors Kuehl and Solis will bring a motion to be voted on by the Supervisors on November 10 outlining an inclusive, transparent and data-driven process for allocating Measure J funding with multiple provisions for community participation.
To meet the minimum 10% threshold, Measure J did not specify where in the budget cuts would come from, but it does prohibit the baseline allocation from going to the LA Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office, the Superior Courts, or the Probation Department.
“The people have spoken, and they have indicated that the County’s investment priorities should more clearly and transparently align with our values,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “Measure J will force a new level of investment to address systemic inequities pervasive across the County and usher in much-needed resources to support historically marginalized and underserved communities. Measure J will enhance and support the County’s ongoing work related to Alternatives to Incarceration and the establishment of an Anti-Racist policy platform.”
The proposed baseline investment in community health and safety builds on a number of actions the Supervisors have taken over the last five years, including the establishment of the Office of Diversion and Reentry, an affordable housing trust, the Homeless Initiative, and the Alternatives to Incarceration Initiative which is charged with implementing the recommendations of LA County’s “Care First, Jails Last” report.
“The people have spoken loud and clear,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “LA County values mean providing treatment over a jail cell, housing over homelessness, jobs over poverty. LA County voters not only want us to meet this moment, Measure J’s passage cements these priorities for our future.”