I find it disheartening to read that the city is trying to circumvent the spirit of the law and pass the new housing transfer tax based on only a simple majority when the law intended any new property tax to be passed by a super majority. There is a reason for this and that is to protect home owners who can’t afford new taxes passed by those who don’t even own property. This is especially an issue in Santa Monica where the majority of residents are renters.
If the city really wants to raise new revenue, then how about a renter’s tax? This is the group that directly benefits from below market rents which are found in this city as a result of rent control and low income housing.
Given the wasteful spending on such things as bus stops, I do not believe the city needs or deserves our trust with additional funds.
Putting aside what I feel is if not an illegal proposal, at the very least a dishonest one, I do not want to see our population increase in Santa Monica. We hear about water shortages, traffic and potential future budget problems. Why do we want to add units and exacerbate these problems? Our city’s population size is large enough already.
The real issue is affordability and not just affordable housing. By proposing to raise the transfer tax on home owners (and unfortunately the $1 million cap affects almost all homeowners and if not today, it will in several years) who have already been hit this year by increased sale taxes as a result of the Affordable Care Act, you will be reducing the amount that many of us count on to pay for our retirement when we sell our homes.
It is not only unfair, but unsustainable to try and tax a minority subset of the population — home owners. If this is truly important then make it a sales tax or a residence tax, but do not further tax those who have chosen to work hard and make a long term investment in our community. While renters can pick up and move if they don’t like a new tax, it is expensive for home owners to do so and this proposal just makes it even more unaffordable to do so.