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What You Need To Know Today: Park Improvements Measure, Vote-By-Mail Ballot Deadline, Angelenos Celebrate Día De Los Muertos

Graphic of a person's hand placing a ballot in a ballot box decorated with the California state seal; the ballot has a graphic of the California constitution and a uterus and is labeled with the number one
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Tuesday, November 1.  

Today in How To LA: Exploring the park improvements measure, deadline for new vote-by-mail ballot; plus, how Angelenos celebrate Día De Los Muertos. 

I cannot believe we have just one week left before Election Day. This year is just flying by! Throughout this week leading up to BIG DAY, I’m giving you the 411 on all of the city and county measures that you will see on your ballot. These actions are all intended to solve a problem in Los Angeles. It’s up to you to decide if these measures are a good call or not.

Today, let’s talk about improving parks and other recreational spaces. We all know how beneficial having access to a park is to everyone from toddlers who need playgrounds to elders who need safe, free spaces to walk. Even though parks are crucial for our health and the climate, cities like L.A. simply aren’t spending enough money on them. A recent report from the national non-profit Trust for Public Land found that neighborhoods with populations that are predominantly people of color have 43% LESS park space than those areas that are mostly white. According to the nonprofit’s ranking system, which is based on access, investment, acreage, amenities and equity, L.A. is ranked 78out of the park systems in the 100 biggest U.S. cities.

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My colleague Erin Stone reports Trust for Public Land and other advocates are trying to push for more park investments at the city, county and state level, like $1 billion over the next two years.

With all that said, I bring you Measure SP. It’s all about improving the parks in L.A. by raising taxes and providing funding. You’ll see it on your ballot as “Parks and Recreational Facilities Parcel Tax”. What is a parcel tax? I know, I was wondering the same thing!

It’s a kind of property tax that is assessed at a rate based on the characteristics of a unit of property, according to Ballotpedia. They’re pretty unique to California. You’ve most likely heard of parcel taxes through funding for school districts.

So what would happen if voters say yes? 

  • Measure SP would impose a parcel tax of 8.4 cents per square foot on property in the city of L.A. for funds to develop, improve, acquire, maintain public facilities like parks, museums and waterways. It would generate about $227 million annually. City officials would base priority on L.A. 's equity index.

What would happen if voters say no? 

  • There won’t be a parcel tax for those projects. 

There’s some interesting arguments for and against Measure SP. Read more about what the measure would do, the qualifying maximum income levels based on family size, and the potential financial impact here.

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Key Dates to Remember: 

Nov. 1: Deadline to request a new vote-by-mail ballot.

Nov. 8: Election Day and deadline to return your vote-by-mail ballot.

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As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

The News You Need After You Stop Hitting Snooze

*At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

  • Today is the last day to ask for a new vote-by-mail ballot for the upcoming November 8 election. You can fill out an application on the L.A. County Registrar’s website to request a new ballot.
  • Over 223,000 people have applied for the Section 8 Housing Vouchers, though there’s only 30,000 spots available. The applicants will now go through a lottery system to determine who receives the spots, which could take up to a year.
  • A carbon dioxide leak at LAX led to the sickening of four workers, leaving one of them in critical condition. It is believed that the leak was caused by a fire suppression system in the airport’s utility room.
  • Mission Viejo is holding elections in the wake of a judge’s ruling that three council members had been holding their seats past their term for nearly two years. But while city council elections are not usually partisan, some worry that efforts to oust these three councilmembers are being led by Democrats. Find out more about where the issues began here.
  • Ahead of Día de los Muertos, there is a new augmented reality app that will honor those who have died from COVID-19
  • Governor Gavin Newsom still hasn’t upheld his campaign promise of building 3.5 million homes, as the figure of homes that are either planned or built is only about 13% of his total promise. This comes amidst a homelessness crisis that has put pressures upon him to build more housing.
  • The Supreme Court is once again tackling the debate on Affirmative Action to determine whether to uphold the 1978 model adapted by Harvard or if it is considered discrimination.
  • If you’re looking to book an affordable flight for the holidays, time is running out. Prices this year are expected to get pricey quickly as airports are predicted to be packed. Check out our top 5 must-knows for flying this holiday season.

Wait! One More Thing...Día De Los Muertos: A Day To Remember Loved Ones Who've Transitioned

A picture of an Día De Los Muertos altar on stair steps. It is covered with flowers, pictures and candles.
Ofelia Esparza's altar at Self Help Graphics and Art is a tribute to her family and loved ones named Amor Eterno.
(Brian De Los Santos
LAist )

Back in school, we used to make colorful, vibrant sugar skulls as an activity to celebrate Day of the Dead. But I don’t feel like I got a good education on Day of the Dead and its importance to Latino families until much later in life. Well, I have a treat for you on this special day. In today’s How To LA podcast, Brian De Los Santos talks to 90-year-old Ofelia Esparza, a well-respected artist who is known for being the matriarch of Día De Los Muertos in L.A. In the podcast, she said something that hit me hard:

“The most final and most dreaded death of all is to be forgotten.”

For Latino families, Día De Los Muertos is an elaborate, meaningful way to remember loved ones who have died. It is NOT Mexican Halloween, matriarch Esparza reiterated.

Brian chatted with Esparza about making ofrendas, or altars that are dedicated to loved ones who have passed. This is a tradition she learned from her mother and now she’s carrying it down to her kids, grandkids and great grandkids. She got her start making ofrendas nearly 50 years ago at Self Help Graphics and Art in East L.A. 

I’m going to be honest. This is one of my favorite podcast episodes so far!

How to make your own Ofrenda for your deceased loved ones from Ofelia Esparza: 

  1. Find a photograph that represents the person you’re honoring. 
  2. Have some sort of light for your altar. It could be a candle, battery, tea lights, etc. 
  3. Souls come from such a long journey, Esparza told Brian. They are hungry and thirsty. Make sure that you have something for them to drink and eat like pan de muerto, pan dulce and liquor. Bring them their favorite food items. Give them their flowers as well. 
  4. Make sure you have some of their favorite items and things that are refreshing for their journey. 

Also, Ashley Alvarado, our vice president of Community Engagement and Strategic Initiatives, wrote this story about the six elements you need to have in your ofrenda.

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