The issue of increasing real estate transfer tax will be on Santa Monica ballot papers Nov. 4 with Measures H and HH calling for votes on whether to increase transfer tax rates and if so, where to allocate the new funds.
Very simply, Measure H calls for a yes/no vote on: “Shall an ordinance be adopted that amends the real estate transfer tax so that for commercial and non-commercial real estate sold for one million dollars or more, the tax rate would be $9 for each thousand dollars of sales price?”
The measure, placed on the ballot by City Council, proposes to raise local city revenue by increasing the real estate transfer tax charged and received on sales.
The current tax rate is $3 per $1,000 of sale price, with fractional parts of $1,000 rounded upward for purposes of calculating the tax. Under the measure, the new tax would be $9 per $1,000 of sale price (or fractional part of $1,000) for properties sold for $1 million or more. Transfers for less than $1 million would continue to be taxed by the City at the existing rate of $3 per $1,000 of sale price.
All Californian counties, including Los Angeles, also collect a real estate transfer tax. The amount of that tax is $1.10 per $1,000 of sale price. So, if voters approve the proposed measure, a sale of property in Santa Monica for $1 million would be taxed by the City in the amount of $9,000 and by the County in the amount of $1,100.
City Council approved the proposed transfer tax by more than a two-thirds majority vote, but it can only go into effect if it is also approved by a majority of voters at the Nov. 4 election. If voters approve the tax, it will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.
Measure HH is an advisory vote only. This allows voters to express their preference for or against the revenue from Measure H, if approved, to be used for affordable housing in Santa Monica.
Measure HH states: “If the proposed transfer tax on commercial and non-commercial real estate sales is approved by voters, should the revenue be used to preserve, repair, renovate and construct affordable housing for low-income people who work or live in Santa Monica, including seniors, veterans, working families and persons with disabilities?”
“Measure HH’s sole purpose is to tell City Hall how Santa Monica voters want new revenue spent if Measure HH passes. Measure HH does not raise taxes. It only advises City government what to do with the resources generated by Measure HH,” according to the City Attorney’s office.
Yes on Measures H and HH
The “Yes” vote on H and HH is backed primarily by the Committee to Protect Affordable Housing. They have raised $46,772 for their campaign at the time of publication.
“Measure H will allow Santa Monica to continue to fund crucial housing and other programs for seniors, disabled persons, and low-income working households,” according to the Measure’s proponents. “By having a source of local funds, we can increase efforts to reduce commuter car traffic when people who work in Santa Monica also can afford to live here.”
Supporters of the Measure argue that City Council voted to place Measure H on the ballot to make up for the millions of dollars that the state has taken away from the city.
“Sacramento has taken back over $68 million in funding from the City of Santa Monica, impacting essential services and programs such as affordable housing,” supporters claim. “Despite careful financial management…Santa Monica’s ability to protect its diversity with strong affordable housing and other programs has been severely hurt by California’s funding take backs.”
No on Measures H and HH
The “No” vote on H and HH is being supported by Santa Monicans Against Ridiculous Taxes, Sponsored and Major Funding by California Association of Realtors Issues Mobilization PAC.
The committee has raised $159,500 for their campaign at the time of publication.
“This tax amount is exorbitant and unprecedented anywhere. It will likely lead to higher housing costs, higher rents, higher prices for goods and services,” according to “No” campaigners.
“No” campaigners claim that the tax will be spent on high-density development for more large, high-density projects that are “ruining the low scale beach community we want Santa Monica to remain”.
“The city had promised housing to teachers, first responders, city workers and seniors to get your vote in past elections but never delivered… All the city funded housing has gone to non-Santa Monica residents. This pattern will continue,” the committee stated.
“Projects funded by this unprecedented tax are given extra height, density and lower parking requirements,” they said.