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City Council to Place Mayor's Tax Measure on Ballot

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By Jorge Casuso

July 8, 2022 -- The City Council on Tuesday must place Mayor Sue Himmelrich's real estate transfer tax measure on the November ballot after it received the required number of voter signatures.

The mandatory vote comes after the Los Angeles County Registrar informed the City Clerk on July 1 that the measure had received far more than the 6,930 signatures -- 10 percent of the registered voters -- required to be placed on the November 8 ballot.

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The County found that 10,363 signatures were filed for the measure, which would charge a real estate transfer tax of $53 per $1,000 on properties valued at $8 million or more to help pay for homelessness prevention, affordable housing and schools.

Of the signatures submitted, three were withdrawn, 8,413 were verified and 6,940 were found sufficient, according to a letter to the City Clerk from County Clerk Dean C. Logan.

Another 1,473 were not found sufficient, and 109 signatures were found not sufficient because the signatures were duplicates, Logan wrote.

In a report to the Council, City staff noted that "if the County certifies the petition, the law requires the City Council to send the measure to the voters."

After the Council adopts the resolution to place the measure on the ballot, supporters and opponents will prepare arguments for and against the measure, and the City Attorney will prepare an impartial analysis.

The Council on Tuesday also is expected to follow staff's recommendation and place a rivel measure sponsored by Councilmember Phil Brock on the ballet.

Brock's measure is far more modest that Himmelrich's, charging a real estate transfer tax (RETT) of $15 per $1,000 for commercial properties that sell for more than $8 million.

Himmelrich's measure is expected to generate some $50 million a year, while Brock's -- which exempts single family homes and only applies to the sales amount above the threshold -- is expected to generate between $6 and $15 million a year.

On Tuesday, staff will present to the Council its analysis of Brock's measure, which warns that it could be a "very volatile" source of revenue ("Staff Recommends Placing Brock's Transfer Tax on Ballot, Warns of Shortcomings," July 7, 2022).

Two weeks later, it will present a report to the Council analyzing the Mayor's measure hat focuses on its fiscal and land use impacts ("Council Members Request Analysis of Mayor's Tax Measure," June 10, 2022).

Both Brock and Himmelrich's measures require a simple majority of the vote. If both receive more than 50 percent of the vote, the one with the most votes would be adopted.

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