February 6, 2023 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

City Council Approves Ballot Measures Relating to Cannabis Business Licenses, Transfer Taxes and More

Santa Monica City Council approves four ballot measures for November 8 general election

By Sam Catanzaro

This week, Santa Monica City Council approved placing multiple measures on the November 8, 2022, general election ballot relating to transfer taxes, a business license tax for cannabis-related activities and changes to the Personnel Board requirements that would allow non-Santa Monica residents to serve on the board.  

Council on Tuesday voted to place on the ballot competing real estate transfer tax initiatives, one sponsored by Mayor Sue Himmelrich and the other one sponsored by Councilmember Phil Brock.

Himmelrich’s measure, the Funding for Homelessness Prevention, Affordable Housing, and Schools measure would establish designated funds for schools, homelessness prevention, and affordable housing, and an eleven-member resident oversight committee, and provide a third-tier transfer tax rate of $56 per thousand dollars of value for property transfers of $8 million or more. 

Brock’s measure, the Real Property Transfer Tax Measure would establish a third-tier transfer tax rate of $25 per thousand dollars of consideration or property value transferred. The transfer tax rate would apply solely to the amount of consideration or value transferred in excess of $8 million, would sunset after ten years with an option to extend an additional five years with a council supermajority vote, and is subject to certain exemptions. An Advisory Measure is associated with the Real Property Transfer Tax Measure, and if the Real Property Transfer Tax measure passes, voters would express their preference to direct the funds to: 

  • Allow for at least 30% of the funds to be allocated for housing assistance 
  • Services to address homelessness and behavioral health 
  • Public safety and emergency response teams to address safety concerns on City streets and in parks 
  • Reopen and staff Santa Monica public libraries 
  • Provide after-school programs for public school children 
  • Crossing guards near public schools 

If the Advisory Measure passes and the Transfer Tax Measure does not, there will be no change to the existing policy. If both the Real Property Tax Measure and the Funding for Homelessness Prevention, Affordable Housing, and Schools measures pass with 50% +1 approval, the measure with the most votes will prevail. 

In addition, Council voted to put on the ballot a measure to establish a business license tax for cannabis-related activities, up to 10% of gross receipts for the sale, distribution, delivery, and consumption of cannabis. 

Council also approved for the ballot a measure to change the Personnel Board requirements of service as part of efforts to expand civic engagement and promote inclusive participation, and align Personnel Board member terms with other Boards and Commissions, will be on the November 8, 2022, general election ballot. The measure includes:  

  • Reducing the term from five years to four years  
  • Expanding eligibility to include, in addition to City residents, residents in Los Angeles County who are natural persons and are either employed full-time within the City, or who own real property in the City, or who has been issued a business license by the City
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