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Santa Monica Ballot Could Feature Three Tax Measures
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
2802 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310)828-7525 -

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

June 23, 2016 -- Santa Monica voters will face a large number of decisions at the federal, State and local levels in November, including possibly three tax measures.

Potentially going on the ballot are a half-cent or quarter-cent sales tax from the City and a half-cent sales tax from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Also, Santa Monica College (SMC) has proposed a bond measure that would be funded through a property tax averaging about $8.65 per month for Santa Monica homeowners and $1.59 for renters.

The City Council will begin the process of considering the municipal tax proposals on Tuesday. A half-cent tax would generate $16 million annually, according to a City consultant’s report.

Also included in the council’s discussion will be whether there should be an advisory measure recommending the tax revenue be used to support affordable housing programs or a combination of that and education or parks/open space.

Results of a March poll funded by the City show 52 percent of residents would vote for a half-cent tax, and the amount increases to nearly 60 percent when the companion measure for schools and affordable housing is included (“Consultant Recommends Half-Cent Sales Tax Measure for Santa Monica Ballot,” May 13, 2016).

Residents were asked in another poll taken this month about a companion measure calling for parks/open space funding. Those results will be shared with the council on Tuesday.

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) board will be discussing the potential measures Thursday night. Its backing is not needed to get the measures on the ballot, but could be crucial for campaigning.

Voters overwhelmingly passed a half-cent sales tax six years ago, and it included a companion measure advising half the revenue go to education (“Sales Tax, Council Advisory Measure Win Big,” November 3, 2010).

If voters approve a half-cent hike, it would bring Santa Monica’s sales tax total to 10 percent, which is the largest allowed by State law.

If Metro’s half-cent tax proposal were also approved (raising Santa Monica’s sales tax to a potential 10.5 percent), it would require special State legislation for implementation.

The Metro board is expected to vote this Thursday on whether to place its tax proposal on the ballot. Metro says the tax could fund billions of dollars worth of highway and public transportation projects over the next several decades.

SMC’s potential tax measure will go before its board next month. The board told staff in May to prepare the paperwork for a $295 million or $345 million bond measure (estimated cost per month would be the same, according to SMC).

Because it already backed placing the measure on the ballot in concept, the board is expected to vote to make it official next month.

The bond could fund some or all facilities improvement projects (it cannot go to employee salaries) from the college’s Master Plan that were on a list presented to the board last month.

These projects include renovations to and replacement of various buildings, including a campus police station. Also included is the potential expansion of Memorial Park to include the nearly three-acre former Fisher Lumber site.

Fields for SMC’s women’s softball and soccer teams would be built on the expanded park. These teams currently use John Adams Middle School, which could be used for other community programming if they leave, a report to the City Council says.

The Memorial expansion would be a joint project with the City, and the council will vote Tuesday whether to support the bond measure with this expansion in mind. Council support is not needed to get the measure on the ballot.

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