LOS ANGELES — Bond measures met a largely successful reception Tuesday in California.
Voters around California Tuesday faced 44 different local K-12 school and community college bond measures, requesting more than $2.8 billion, according to a report from Michael Coleman, fiscal policy advisor for the League of California Cities.
If preliminary results hold up, voters approved 35 of the measures, worth a total of $2.445 billion, according to Coleman's data.
The biggest failure was a $270 million measure for the West Contra Costa Unified School District. Needing 55% of the vote to pass, it received less than 46%.
Big school bond measures to pass included $650 million for Fremont Unified School District, $450 million for Contra Costa Community College District, and $270 million for the Sequoia Union High School District in San Mateo County.
San Francisco voters approved Proposition A, a $400 million bond authorization to finance seismic and reliability upgrades to neighborhood fire and police stations, and other critical city facilities.
"I commend our city's voters for putting San Francisco on a path towards greater resiliency," Mayor Ed Lee said in a prepared statement.
Voters in the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District south of San Francisco authorized $300 million in GO bond debt.
Coleman was tracking more than 140 local tax and revenue measures California voters decided Tuesday.
Among these were 85 measures seeking approval for taxes and bonds. The ballots are still being counted and final results will not be known until later this month, so the figures available now remain preliminary.
The school bond passage rate was similar to prior elections, but general local government tax measures in California - around two out of three passed - exceeded historic levels of success, Coleman said.
"The 100% success of the five school parcel taxes clearly beats historical outcomes, although four of the five continue, but do not increase, existing taxes," he said.
Among non-school measures, just one of the eight majority vote general purpose tax measures appeared to have failed: a sales tax measure in Anderson - and that was actually too close to call Wednesday, trailing by only 1% of the vote. It appears that 19 out of 28 special tax measures passed, which also exceeds historic levels of success for those sorts of measures.
"Consistent with results in prior elections, majority-vote tax measures fared much better than supermajority measures," Coleman said in his report. "Four out of five city tax measures passed but fewer than half of the non-school two-thirds vote bonds and special taxes passed."
All five school parcel tax measures, which require two-thirds supermajorities, passed, according to Coleman's report.
Among the 35 non-school local revenue measures were four measures asking for a total of $722 million in bonds including the $400 million earthquake safety improvement measure in San Francisco and the $300 million park and open space measure in the mid-peninsula region of the San Francisco Bay Area.
There were 17 non-school parcel taxes requiring two-thirds voter approval, including six library measures and nine fire, emergency medical or police public safety measures.
Twelve of the 17 passed, including all six library measures, according to Coleman.
Eleven proposals sought to extend or increase local sales taxes by from one-fourth percent in San Pablo, Woodland and Truckee, to 1% in Cathedral City and Cotati.
Nine of the 11 passed, according to preliminary results, and a 10th was very close.
Coleman said in an interview that he expects that one or two of the measures that are close will change as the final counts come in a month from now.
Of those that fail, Coleman said cities will probably return to voters in a future election.
Coleman anticipates that probably twice as many bond elections will be on the November ballot; and more general tax measures.
There is a requirement in Proposition 218 that requires, with some exceptions, that majority vote tax measures by cities and county go on the ballot at the same time as local officeholders, Coleman said. That somewhat limits what can be on the ballot in June, he added.
The passage rate on local measures also is impacted by what is going on locally.
"Several years ago, a lot of cities were doing utility user tax clean-ups to validate existing taxes," he said.
This time out, a couple of counties were doing vehicle registration tax validations.
"I was surprised that both of those failed - given they were only adding $1," Coleman said. "For some reason, people don't like to tax their cars."
Last year's controversy surrounding capital appreciation bonds in California doesn't seem to have affected the passage of school bonds.
The passage rate was high, as it has been traditionally, he said.
Tuesday's primary also set the final lineup in races for Congress, the legislature, and statewide elected offices.
The race for California controller looks to be one of the most heated in the state's general election.
With about 24% of the vote, Republican Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin took the lead in Tuesday's race for state controller, according to preliminary returns as of Wednesday morning.
More absentee and provisional votes remain to be counted, and California State Assembly Speaker John Perez is in a three-way battle for second place in the controller's rate with each candidate within less than 1% of the other two.
In California's "Top Two" primary system, the two highest finishers in a primary move to the general election, regardless of party affiliation or whether the top finisher received a majority.
As of Wednesday morning's returns reported by the Secretary of State's office, less than 6,000 votes separated second-place Perez from fourth-place State Board of Equalization Member Betty Yee. Both are Democrats.
Republican David Evans was less than 2,500 votes behind Perez for the final spot on the November ballot.
In the race to replace termed-out Bill Lockyer as state treasurer, termed-out Controller John Chiang easily topped the primary with 55.1% of the vote and will face Republican Greg Conlon in November.
Lockyer, a Democrat, announced earlier this year plans to retire from public office.
Unsurprisingly, California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, easily topped the primary in his re-election bid, and will face Republican Neel Kashkari in November.
Proposition 41, a state measure that would authorize the sale of $600 million in general obligation bonds to provide housing for veterans, passed by a wide margin.