SMDP approvals on accessories and measures: Taxes, taxes and more taxes at stake on this year’s ballot

There are nine local ballot measures before voters in November. Two-thirds are new taxes one way or another, two strengthen rent control protections for tenants, and one is an administrative item. Looking at the nine, we think some are worth supporting (including a few new taxes), a few are outright rejected, and for the rest, personal politics is really your guide.

CS (Transitional Occupancy Tax) — Yes

The Transient Occupancy Tax is paid by visitors to hotels and services like Airbnb; it is not a fee paid by residents. While Santa Monica seems high at 14%, it’s on par with our neighbors and this proposal would increase that to 15% for hotels and 17% for shared apartments. It is estimated that the measure will create about $4 million per year.

Generic anti-tax sentiments aside, there is no organized opposition to this measure as it has very little, if any, downside for residents.

The measure claims that it will fund public safety and infrastructure, but those are just words. If passed, the Council will establish an advisory committee that will provide non-binding recommendations on the use of the additional revenue. Non-binding recommendations are a waste of time as the money will be spent where the current Council deems it necessary, so this provision is not great, but you should still vote YES on this measure.

GS ($56 per $1,000 transfer tax) — No

DT/SDR ($25 per $1,000 transfer tax) — No

GS and DT/DTS target the same revenue stream, adding fees to the taxes paid when selling a property.

GS sets a third-tier transfer tax rate of $56 per $1,000 of value for property transfers of $8,000,000 or more, which is a more than nine-fold increase from today today. Its main goal is to build affordable housing, but to do so it will starve the city’s coffers in the long run and lead to cuts in funding for public safety, libraries, infrastructure and other key city functions. due to the reduced book value of property tax rolls.

DT is more modest and adds an additional additional tax of $25 per $1,000 of value over $8 million, except for transfers: per state law, involving exempt charities taxes and certain land leases; providing approximately $12-25 million per year. It’s for certain priorities, but it’s really to fund general expenses. DT would expire in 10 years and has additional protections to allow for new construction/renovation.

They are two very different taxes. Apparently they both start at the $8 million property value level but GS is not progressive it is retroactive i.e. it would apply to the full value of the property and not just the amount above $8 million. This creates an absurd situation where selling a property for $1 more could result in $400,000, or 9.3 times more tax.

Also, GS does not have a sunset clause. All measures have unintended consequences, but with this one, we’re stuck with them forever. Only a new ballot measure could alter GS.

While GS is really bad for Santa Monica in the long run, no measure is a good idea. Transfer duties are deducted from the value of the house when establishing property taxes, so these measures are not so much an increase in tax revenue as they steal from Pierre to pay Paul because over time the revenue from transfer will be offset by losses in property tax revenue.

In summary, DT is the lesser of two evils. You can nickel and dime both to find out which details are better or worse, but you should save time and just vote NO on both.

PB (Staff Committee) — Yes

This is another unopposed measure because it has no negative consequences. The measure expands the number of people who can sit on the Staff Council to include city residents and county residents who have an economic interest in the city. It also reduces the duration from five to four years. These changes bring the Staff Council in line with other City boards and commissions. It’s an easy YES.

HMP (cannabis tax) — Yes

Santa Monica’s cannabis regulations are terribly behind. The city has long delayed any type of dispensary in the city and so far lacks local shops (two medical dispensaries have filed documents and will open soon). The HMP measure places a 10% tax on cannabis sales in the city, including non-medical uses not yet permitted and unless the city is planning on getting stuck in a reefer madness scene, we should absolutely have the regulatory infrastructure in place to tax these products. YES.

CR (3% adjustment cap) — Yes/No

EM (Emergency Setting Inhibit) — Yes/No

The RC measure reduces the maximum annual rent increase from 6% to 3% for rent-controlled housing. The EM measure allows the Rental Board to suspend or modify the maximum increase during a declared state of emergency.

RC and EM measurements have the same logic. If you believe in rent control, you should vote Yes for both measures. If you don’t, then no. The arguments for and against each are the same as the arguments for and against the concept of rent control.

The RC measure reinforces everything people hate or love about rent control, because it limits housing costs for tenants while shifting the costs associated with inflation onto landlords. Landlords hate the limits of their ability to raise rents and tenants love the security of artificially low rents.

The EM measure will allow officials to reduce or eliminate rent increases in the event of an emergency. This will make life easier for tenants, but landlords have the same, if not more, costs in an emergency.

There are some truly insane arguments about these issues, but voters should ignore them all and just focus on the central question: Do you support the concept of rent control in Santa Monica?

SMC (SMC obligation) — Yes

Measure SMC is a $375 million bond to fund ongoing on-campus projects, including housing for low-income students and upgrades to select older and temporary buildings on campus. Measure SMC joins four other community college bonds in the Los Angeles area this election cycle, all trying to bridge the gap between what has become a caste system in the United States, those who have attended four-year college and those who did not. . According to the Social Security Administration, a college graduate earns between $630 and $1 million more than a non-college graduate over their lifetime.

Improvements to SMC bond buildings will not increase density on campus. Education is shifting to a hybrid online/in-person model, so there will be less classroom space in the new buildings and more facilities to support online registration and teaching. Buildings slated for improvement accommodate expiring trades such as auto repair. The building was built based on the demographics of a time when only men learned these types of trades, which translated to things like 8/1 male/female bathrooms and needed updating.

Unlike all of the affordable housing we build that must be available to all LA County residents, the student housing that SMC would build on the Bundy campus may be a priority for Santa Monica residents.

This is probably the hardest and easiest decision to make based on your personal policy. Higher education is one of the most valuable tools for lifting people out of poverty and trying to restrict access to this education is one of the most elite actions possible. However, SMC is not the only community college in existence, and there is no moral obligation for residents to perpetually subsidize its growth for students from outside Santa Monica.

The last time an education requirement was imposed on the community, we said that we thought the City had reached a saturation point for these kinds of measures and we were totally wrong. You can vote for this measure guilt-free if you are willing to bear the costs, as SMC offers great programs for students and services for the wider community. You can also vote against it because we are in a world of skyrocketing inflation and there comes a time when residents simply don’t have the disposable income to sustain continued institutional support.

We believe SMC provides excellent service to the community. In the latest SMC survey of residents, 56% of households that responded to the survey said that someone in their household had used the college’s academic services in their lifetime. The updates planned for this bond are not vanity projects and are in line with broader goals of equity and inclusion. For that reason, we think it’s a YES on SMC.

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