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Santa Monica-Malibu School Board Votes to Place Record Bonds on the Ballot


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July 30, 2018 -- The School Board on Thursday placed bonds on the November ballots in Santa Monica and Malibu that together amount to $680 million, the largest ever placed before local voters.

The $485 million bond for Santa Monica and $195 million for Malibu came after the board created School Facility Improvement Districts (SFIDs) for each City in anticipation of Malibu's possible split.

The funds raised by the bond measures would be dedicated to schools within each respective community, school officials said.

The money would be used to add and modernize science labs; improve and build classrooms; fix leaky roofs in older schools, and replace and repair aging restrooms.

Funds also would be used to replace deteriorated portable classrooms with modern classrooms, remove hazardous materials from local schools and repair and replace deteriorating floors, walls, windows and roofs.

A $485 million bond for Santa Monica would cost an average of $27 million annually, with estimated taxpayer levies of approximately $40 per $100,000 of assessed (not market) value, District officials said.

A recent poll of Santa Monica voters found that a $485 million bond "seems likely to pass with initial support at 66 percent,” according to the findings of Goodwin Simon Strategic Research.

A poll of voters in Malibu found that a $250 million bond for Malibu schools would fail, but that a $150 million bond would win the necessary support.

Since 2002, local voters have approved two bonds measures totaling $643 million, as well as a $346 per year parcel tax with no sunset provision.

But two measures have failed -- a $300-per-parcel tax in 2002 and a $198-per-parcel tax in 2010.

On Sunday, Santa Monicans for Renters' Rights (SMRR), the city's most powerful political organization, voted to endorse the bonds ("SMRR Endorses McKeown, Himmelrich, Morena for City Council," July 30, 2018).

Earlier this year, the Santa Monica Rent Control Board threatened to eliminate pass-throughs to tenants in the form of surcharges for local funding measures ("Future Bonds in Jeopardy if Rent Board Nixes Pass-Throughs, Santa Monica Property Owners Warn," March 21, 2018).

The board backed down after realtors and property owners -- who have traditionally remained neutral -- threatened to oppose future funding measures if the pass throughs are eliminated.

The Board backed down after SMRR, which has long had an understanding that landlords would remain neutral as long as they are not made to bear the burden of the cost, expressed their concerns.


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