Next March 5, on primary election day, the California voters will have an opportunity to pass Ballot Proposition One. Prop One was put on the ballot by the legislature with super majorities and Governor Gavin Newsom who see the proposition as a needed change to the way the state addresses mental illness.

The election season kicked off early as the Council voted unanimously to endorse Prop One, at their meeting earlier this week. 

“This is known as “treatment not tents,” and it will be the largest overhaul of our mental health system in decades,” stated Councilmember Caroline Torosis when she introduced the measure.

“All told, it’s set to create 11,000 new housing beds in various different settings.”

Torosis continued with a summary of other changes that would occur if the measure is passed, including:

  • Rename the Mental Health Services Act (2004) to the Behavioral Health Services Act;
  • Expand the Mental Health Services Act to include substance use disorders;
  • changing how revenue from the 1% tax on income above $1 million is spent under the law, including requiring 30% of the Behavioral Health Services Fund be allocated to housing intervention programs; 
  • increasing the size of the oversight commission from 16 to 27 voting members; and
  • issuing $6.380 billion in bonds to fund housing for homeless individuals and veterans with mental health or substance use disorders.

“This is very personal to me,” said Councilmember Oscar de la Torre who recounted the story of a younger brother who is suffering from mental illness but is now recovering while receiving professional help in a hospital setting. “I have witnessed the importance of having a different approach. This funding will expand those types of services that are sorely needed in our society.”

By endorsing the measure, the Council will use some of the city’s marketing and public relations tools to encourage voters to support the measure. the city will release a formal statement in support of the measure, the city’s seal can be used in materials to promote the ballot measure, the city will send a letter to state legislators and officials stating the city’s support and city officials and elected officers can represent the city’s support at public events on behalf of the city, not just representing themselves.

“There’s been a history of decades of disinvestment in this issue…it’s long overdue that we address this at the appropriate level, which is the state and federal level,” continued Councilmember Jesse Zwick.

Earlier this year, the Council endorsed the Justice for Renters ballot measure that won’t appear on the ballot until next November. A statement of support was released to the press last week.

“I don’t think it’s reasonable for the City of Santa Monica to fix this crisis on our own…we certainly didn’t get here on our own,” Torosis concluded.

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