No Taxes to Fund Development (NTFD), a citizen’s group that says it formed to oppose a Santa Monica City Hall sponsored tax hike that will appear on this November’s ballot, filed a lawsuit Monday, Aug. 11 against the City of Santa Monica in Superior Court.
NTFD’s lawsuit seeks to prevent the publishing of the rebuttals to the ballot arguments opposing the tax hike measure in all places including the official Sample Voter Guide mailed by the City.
The lawsuit contends the City Clerk of Santa Monica wrongly accepted the proponent’s rebuttals because of irregularities regarding the official signatures and then compounded the wrong by editing the documents themselves. Both actions are spelled out in the election code as being improper and illegal.
The major issue is that two of the signatories on the arguments and rebuttals are different. The law requires that signatories for ballot arguments and rebuttals be the same.
Mathew Millen who filed the suit states that the proponents of the tax hike measure are “City Hall insiders and local politicians who know the rules yet ignored them by illegally changing signatories.”
“Santa Monica City Councilman Ted Winterer and League of Women Voters President Ann Williams cannot sign the rebuttals because they did not sign the measure’s ballot argument,” Millen said.
NTFD contends the attitude of the measure’s proponents is a reflection of the measure itself which looks to unfairly raise taxes to fund even more development in Santa Monica.
NTFD spokesperson Peter Tigler said Santa Monicans are fed up with overdevelopment and the problems it causes such as traffic congestion, ‘canyon-ization’ of streets, and now water use.
“The success of Santa Monica voters in stopping a huge, mixed-use development on Olympic Blvd. and a rapidly growing slow-growth movement is an indication that voters will reject a tax hike desired by City Hall politicians as a way to fund even more unwanted development,” Tigler said.
Tigler said the tax itself is called the Real Property Transfer Tax.
“If approved by voters in November, it will triple from $3,000 to $9,000 per $1 million of the sales price of a property,” Tigler said. “The seller will pay following current practice. Even at current rates, Santa Monicans pay one of the highest taxes of its kind in the state.”
Tigler said at current prices, the average home in Sunset Park would see a $15,000 tax bill and the average mid-city apartment building would see a $45,000 tax bill when the property is sold. He said such an unreasonably high tax will likely lead to higher housing costs, higher rents and higher prices for goods and services.
Tigler said City Hall proposes to use the continuous money stream generated by the tax exclusively to build large, multi-story developments that are also given bonuses for extra heights and densities. This will burden infrastructure and negatively impact quality of life.