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Consultant Recommends Half-Cent Sales Tax Measure for Santa Monica Ballot
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

May 13, 2016 -- A consultant hired by the Santa Monica City Council says poll results show voters would pass a half-cent sales tax in November to fund affordable housing programs and support schools.

Goodwin Simon Strategic Research polled 602 Santa Monica residents who are likely to vote in the November election.

Support for a half-cent tax was 52 percent. When a companion measure designating the revenue be used to support affordable housing programs and schools is included, support increased to 59 percent.

People were also asked about a quarter-cent tax, and support was 55 percent. With the companion measure (calling for most of the money to go to affordable housing), support was 58 percent.

“Although support appears slightly higher for a smaller tax, we believe that the larger tax offers [advantages],” wrote Goodwin Simon in a memo to the council.

The advantages of the higher tax proposal, Goodwin Simon says, are that it would mean more revenue ($16 million versus $8 million a year) and it could help schools, which is something that would motivate more Santa Monica residents to vote for it and inspire education activists and employees to campaign for it.

Voters overwhelmingly passed a half-cent sales tax in November 2010, and many people credited the victory to the inclusion of a companion measure advising half the revenue go to education (“Sales Tax, Council Advisory Measure Win Big,” November 3, 2010).

Santa Monica’s current sales tax is 9.5 percent. This includes the half-cent local tax as well as State and County taxes.

The poll also asked if the person would support an alternative for a 5 percent tax on the cost of renovating commercial properties. This garnered 60 percent support. The memo did not specify how much money the tax could generate.

This poll comes nearly two years after a majority of voters rejected a measure for a tax hike on real estate transactions of at least $1 million, although they supported a measure that recommended the revenue be used for affordable housing programs.

Real estate, hotel and development interests put a lot of money into the campaign against those measures ("Ballot Measure Campaigns Top $1.1 Million,” October 29, 2014).

“As a result [of the 2014 election], the City is left without a significant, stable source of funding for affordable housing, thereby impacting the City’s ability to maintain inclusivity and diversity,” Santa Monica Housing and Economic Development Director Andy Agle wrote in an introduction to Goodwin Simon’s memo.

The poll shows that a majority of residents are concerned about what they see as a lack of affordable housing options in Santa Monica.

Seventy-five percent of respondents said they “have a great deal or some concern that the rising cost of housing will turn Santa Monica into a place where only the wealthy can live.”

Other related results include:

74 percent said that they have a great deal or some concern that due to the rising cost of housing, their friends or children will no longer be able to afford to live in Santa Monica.

68 percent said that they have a great deal or some concern that the rising cost of housing is diminishing the small-town community feel that Santa Monica once had.

62 percent said that they have a great deal or some concern that they personally will not be able to afford to live in Santa Monica.

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