By the Santa Monica Mirror Editorial Board
Santa Monica City Council
Albin has been involved with the community for many years. He has served – as most past and present council members have – on personnel boards and also on the board of Santa Monica Travel & Tourism. Albin is pro-police and believes the safety of Santa Monica is a priority. Furthermore, if elected, he would be the only council member to have recently been involved with the tourism industry, a sector that needs a shot of adrenaline at this time post-pandemic.
Lana has done a good job in her first round as a councilmember after being appointed last year, and she deserves another term. Her background as a small business owner provides an important voice needed on City Council to bolster the local economy. In addition, her support from a broad range of stakeholders shows she can bridge divides to reach policy consensus.
Troy is our surprise pick. While most would assume we’d go with Armen Melkonians to complete the slate, we think the addition of Troy to City Council would benefit Santa Monica greatly. He is young but has also been an active member of the local business community for many years. He also has no ties to any special interest groups, which is a much-needed deviation from the current status quo in Santa Monica.
Municipal Ballot Measures
Measure CS – Would increase the transient occupancy tax by 1 percent for hotels and 3 percent for home shares, raising general fund revenues of more than $4,000,000 annually that could be used for any governmental purpose.
Our vote: NO. We believe that placing additional taxes on the tourism industry – one of the major economic forces in our community – is unnecessary. Additional money will not solve these issues, only a change in policy will. We should be doing everything we can as a city to incentivize tourism to maintain Santa Monica as a hub for visitors from far and wide. While supporters say these funds will be used to address homeless and public safety, in reality, revenue raised from the measure would not be earmarked and could be used for anything.
Measure GS – Would raise funds for schools, homelessness prevention, and affordable housing by creating a third-tier transfer tax rate of $56.000 per $1,000 of value for property transfers of $8,000,000 or more, raising around $50,000,000 annually.
Our vote: NO. We do not like this measure since there is no sunset clause, meaning it can go on in perpetuity. Furthermore, the money is not guaranteed to go to safety or more police staffing, which is the number one priority for most citizens in Santa Monica today.
Measure DT – Would increase the one-time tax on real property sales over $8 million by creating an additional incremental tax of $25 per $1000 for sales over $8 million, excepting transfers, subject to a five-year extension by a City Council supermajority vote.
Our vote: NO. This is a soft no. We almost said yes to this measure because it does raise funds for important services like public safety and homeless services. Ultimately, however, we do not believe more taxes are the solution. There is plenty of money within the City’s budget. It is how officials choose to spend it that matters, and what policies are enacted to better Santa Monica and put it on the right path.
Measure DTS – This measure asks if Measure DT passes, should at least 30 percent of its additional revenue be used for housing assistance with the remainder of the additional revenue to be used for homelessness services, public safety and emergency response teams for City streets and parks, after-school programs and more.
Our vote: NO. We do not think DT should be passed, so, therefore, DTS should not be either.
Measure PB – Would expand eligibility requirements for service on the City’s Personnel Board to include all residents of LA County that are employed full-time within the City, own property in the City, or have been issued a business license by the City. It would also reduce the term of service for Personnel Board members from five to four years.
Our vote: NO. The City’s personnel board should only include citizens from Santa Monica. There should not be outside voices swaying the direction of a city in which they do not live. Part of what makes Santa Monica special is being an independent community within a much larger metropolitan area. To keep this local autonomy alive and well you must keep the decision-makers and stakeholders local as well.
Measure HMP – Would establish a business tax on every licensed cannabis business, including adult-use nonmedicinal cannabis retailers, up to 10% of gross receipts, generating an estimated $3-5 million annually.
Our vote: YES. Everywhere around the City of Santa Monica cannabis is sold for recreational purposes. To keep tax dollars in the city, we need to be competitive. Furthermore, many companies deliver cannabis to Santa Monica, meaning we have outside dispensaries making money within the city simply because there is no local option unless you have a medical card. Sadly, it may be too late as Santa Monica showed up at 10 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game on this one.
Measure RC – Would reduce the maximum Annual General Adjustment from 6% to 0.8% from 2/1/23 through 8/31/23, or average not to exceed 3%, with a 3% maximum.
Our vote: NO. Rental owners already have enough to deal with when it comes to rental law/policy here in the city. You want to make sure property owners are incentivized to invest in their property.
Measure EM – Would allow the Rent Control Board to modify annual adjustments for rent-controlled units during a declared state of emergency by the President of the United States, the Governor, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Officer, or the City Council or Director of Emergency Services.
Our vote: NO. The Rental Control Board has enough power and obligations must be met by all sides as agreed upon. Furthermore, the scope of officials who can declare a state of emergency to activate this measure is too broad, including not officials from all levels of government, from the President of the United States to Santa Monica’s Director of Emergency Services.
Measure SMC – Would authorize $375,000,000 in bonds at legal rates, levying 2.5 cents per $100 assessed valuation, raising $23,000,000 annually to improve access to affordable education, provide affordable housing for homeless students, modernize instructional labs and upgrade obsolete vocational classrooms.
Our vote: YES. SMC is one of Santa Monica’s jewels and is in its nature an ongoing investment to keep it one of the best junior colleges in the nation, drawing people from all over to Santa Monica. Implementing affordable student housing is also important, as we think helping students looking to better themselves and be productive members of society benefits the whole community. Lastly, we like bonds as all money is accounted for, rather than be put in a general fund to be spent with less accountability.