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Coalition to Deliver 900,000 Signatures to Place Tough-on-Crime Proposal on California Ballot

Coalition to submit 900,000 signatures (Credits: San Diego Union-Tribune)

A coalition supported by major retailers such as Walmart and Target revealed on Thursday that it has gathered enough signatures to present a ballot measure to California voters this November. The measure aims to strengthen criminal penalties for offenses like shoplifting and drug dealing.

The bipartisan group, known as Californians for Safer Communities, includes members from law enforcement, elected officials, and businesses. They reported collecting over 900,000 signatures in support of the measure, which seeks to revise certain aspects of Proposition 47.

This progressive measure, approved by 60% of voters in 2014, reclassified certain theft and drug possession offenses from felonies to misdemeanors to address jail overcrowding issues.

Coalition to submit 900,000 signatures (Credits: Santa Maria Times)

Critics of Proposition 47 argue that it has made California’s stance on crime too lenient. Instances of large-scale theft, often captured in viral videos, have raised concerns about public safety. However, quantifying the problem remains challenging due to limited data sharing by many stores, according to the California Retailers Association.

San Francisco’s Democratic Mayor London Breed Faces Challenging Reelection Campaign

Crime data indicates a rise in shoplifting incidents in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles between 2021 and 2022. While statewide shoplifting rates increased during this period, they remained lower than pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Additionally, urban counties have seen an uptick in commercial burglaries and robberies.

The proposed ballot measure seeks to impose stricter penalties on repeat shoplifters and fentanyl dealers. For example, individuals with at least two prior theft convictions would face felony charges for shoplifting, regardless of the stolen amount.

The measure aims to establish a new drug court treatment program for individuals with multiple drug possession convictions. With California’s approach to crime becoming an outstanding political issue, the November election is poised to address various challenges.

In addition to the ballot measure, Democratic Mayor London Breed of San Francisco faces a tough reelection bid despite criticism of the city’s handling of crime. Similarly, Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price faces a recall election, while Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón faces opposition over his progressive approach to crime.

Despite calls to repeal Proposition 47, top Democratic leaders like Governor Gavin Newsom have opposed such efforts, advocating instead for bolstering existing laws and addressing specific criminal activities like motor vehicle theft and stolen merchandise reselling.

Safer Communities Coalition announce 900,000 signatures (Credits: Santa Monica Daily Press)

Meanwhile, a campaign supporting the ballot measure has raised serious funds, primarily from major retailers like Walmart, Home Depot, and Target, as well as support from district attorneys and local elected officials. For business owners like Lana Negrete, vice mayor of Santa Monica, Proposition 47 has presented challenges.

While initially supporting its progressive approach, Negrete has experienced multiple smash-and-grab incidents at her family’s music stores, leading to outstanding losses. She expressed frustration over the lack of accountability for repeat offenders and the impact on her family’s business.

Before appearing on the November ballot, the signatures collected for the ballot measure must undergo verification by county and state officials. The campaign needs at least 546,651 verified signatures to qualify for the ballot.

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