Local ballot measures are often of great importance to how residents of a city experience their lives there, and Measures BL and VY on Culver City’s November 8 ballot certainly fit that bill. We encourage Culver City voters to support both measures.

Measure BL (for Business License) proposes an increase in the city’s business licensing tax, bringing it into the 21st Century from a rate originally designed in 1965. A city government needs to be able to plan for the revenue it needs, and Culver City’s leaders are clearly asking residents to help them pay the bills responsibly and ensure a predictable budget.

Here is the exact language Measure BL asks of voters: Shall the measure updating Culver City’s business license tax to either a flat tax up to $1,000, or 0.13%-0.35% of gross receipts (depending on business type), 4% for oil well operations, and an additional 0.01% for gross receipts over $100,000,000, exempting the first $200,000 in gross receipts, updating business classifications, generating approximately $10,000,000 annually, until ended by voters, for such general fund services as emergency response, parks, homelessness services, and requiring annual independent audits, be adopted?”

The tax being proposed is in line with several other nearby cities, and would remain lower for businesses in Culver City than its counterparts in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and – for businesses with revenues under $100,000 – Beverly Hills as well.

The business licensing tax is not a special tax, but a general tax. Therefore, it only needs a majority vote to pass. We hope the majority of Culver City voters agree with us that an update is needed. Vote Yes.

Measure VY (for Voting Youth) would allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in future local elections for city council and Culver City School Board only. It has been met with a bit more resistance, generally from older, long-time Culver City residents and more conservative residents. It is supported by the Culver City Democratic Club, more progressive residents, and the hundreds of students of Vote 16 Culver City who have campaigned at the grassroots for years to see this happen.

If you listen to the ballot language in opposition to Measure VY, you would think it was coming from a very angry conservative who thinks giving sophomores and juniors the vote was the end of civilization. Signed by former mayor and school board president Steven Gourley, the arguments begin by attacking the city council for taking several noble and progressive actions in recent years. Then, Gourley seems to yell at parents as he says, “These are not elections with training wheels so your children can ‘warm up’ for the BIG elections. These ARE big elections,” and then he asks, “Can you imagine our school board or our city council caving in on issues regarding shorter school hours or fewer days of school in order to carry the ‘high school vote?’”

Gourley continues with some other paranoid rants about the youth vote diluting that of older adults and the youth vote somehow resulting in defunding the police. We really wish Mr. Gourley had counted to 10 before typing out these cynical, angry arguments that really don’t speak to the kinds of students in Culver City we know will be voting. The Vote 16 Culver City students worked hard for this, are incredibly articulate when speaking before city officials, and are smart. They aren’t out to increase the number of Senior Ditch Days. Mr. Gourley needs to find another outlet for his anti-progressive rage. We might recommend getting into hiking or perhaps even kickboxing. Lloyd Dobler would tell you it’s the sport of the future.

We love Measure VY specifically because Culver City high school students are engaged, care about issues affecting the city, and have earned a voice through their activism. Science says they have the maturity to make voting decisions. Fairness also demands it. Sixteen and 17-year-olds drive cars, pay taxes from their paychecks, and utilize city services like libraries and parks. Let them have a say!

In addition, there is precedent for this from our neighbors to the north in Berkeley. Their turnout is also shown to be higher than that of other age groups. So we agree with the proponents of the measure, when they say in their ballot language, “Enfranchising Culver City youth here, instead of hoping that they vote when they leave home, will teach the responsibility of democratic participation, thus increasing overall turnout and the voting propensity of our young people.” Vote Yes.

Website for Vote 16 Culver City — www.Vote16CulverCity.org 

Photo by albertc111

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