Santa Monica voters will have the opportunity to decide the fate of a local ballot measures this coming November and arguments for the proposed luxury tax ordinance have been released online.
The measure asks if the City of Santa Monica shall increase the one-time real estate transfer tax paid on each property sale that’s worth $5 million or more by $3 for every $1,000 of the sales price. If passed by voters in November, the measure would increase fees to $6 per thousand on the sale price, according to Finance Department Director Gigi Decavalles-Hughes, who said the proposal would only affect property sales worth more than $5 million, which make up about 10 percent of all parcels sold in the city per year.
Supporters say the measure is a vital part of rebuilding the community’s strength and raises taxes only on corporations and those who sell properties worth $5 million or more.
“Renters, people living with homelessness, families struggling with uncertain employment, homebound senior citizens, and those struggling with mental health issues will all benefit from (the proposed ordinance),” according to an argument posted online at smvote.org/BallotMeasures/, which is signed by Mayor Kevin McKeown, Natalya Zernitskaya, president of League of Women Voters of Santa Monica, Shari Davis, chair of Community for Excellent Public Schools, Emergency Room Nurse at UCLA-Santa Monica Hospital Tim Van Pelt, and Denny Zane, co-chair and co-founder of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights.
The group believes voting yes on the unnamed Local Revenue Measure would protect Santa Monica’s vital public health services, including emergency response resources, economic recovery efforts, library programs and many, many others.
However, President of Greater L.A. Realtors Ryan Ole Hass, Former Santa Monica Rent Commissioner Robert Kronovet, small business owner Irma Vargas, and local resident Patricia O’Neil, believe now is not the time for a tax increase.
“COVID-19 and civil unrest have impacted our community. Now, the City Council wants to raise taxes on small businesses,” the argument against the measure states. “Small and independent rental property owners will be adversely impacted (and) this tax could result in more large multi-national corporations owning the apartment and condo complexes in our city. We don’t need more national corporations becoming our landlords.”
The argument against the proposed measure also notes Santa Monica already has Los Angeles County’s second-highest real estate transfer tax and residents aren’t exactly sure how the tax dollars will be spent.
“As a general tax, the City cannot designate how the revenue will be spent,” the argument states. “It must go into the general fund with no guarantee on what it will be spent on with zero accountability.”
To view the entirety of the arguments and proposed measures that will appear on the November ballot, visit smvote.org.