Dear Editor,

Regarding the “Housing and Schools Transfer tax petition,” that is asking for signatures around the city at this time.

We can see that traditional Santa Monica property taxes, that fund almost everything the city does for us, will collapse as a result of this transfer tax. This will wreck city services that current residents depend on (Schools, police, fire, libraries etc) 

This property tax collapse will be caused by owners delaying home sales and thus delaying property tax basis repricing, and replacing tax paying buildings with (non property tax paying) affordable housing. 

The proposed transfer tax will not adjust for inflation and in very few years will affect practically all homes in the city, even the most modest.

It is expected the new transfer tax revenue will pay for large numbers of substantial buildings — built on almost every street. They will be almost exclusively reserved for the homeless, and non-residents of Santa Monica. (Santa Monica rent control tenants will not be eligible to apply for this new housing.)

It is absolutely certain the buildings will provide almost no parking, so street parking will become very difficult or, most likely, impossible.

(Most new apartment buildings currently planned and actually being built already have sub-standard to zero parking.)

There is a small amount of the tax assigned for schools. It is believed that this was added to the petition to ease its passage via the electorate. Though in reality the amounts of school tax revenue raised will be inadequate to meet the increase in student enrollment expected from the additional housing created.

The assignment of a small amount of tax to schools allows the signature gatherers to proclaim it is “for schools”, without highlighting that the majority of the tax is for housing – which would suggest underhandedness on the part of the sponsors.

With so many terrible negatives it seems astonishing that the voters of Santa Monica would consider such a tax. However the sponsors willingness to finance the paid signature gatherers etc, does imply they are confident in their ability to persuade the residents to accept a tax which is against their own self interest. 

To achieve this the sponsors’ campaign flyers re-purpose irrelevancies and offer emotional but absurdist claims. (“California schools… bottom…funding” – but we live in Santa Monica, where the schools are very well funded! “Walled gardens…”, “Gated community…” – Now that is plain insulting.)

It stretches credulity that the sponsors are doing this purely out of the goodness of their hearts (It is costing $200,000!) – someone must be making money out of this. And you can be sure it isn’t you, dear reader.

So, we at last we get to perhaps the real reason for doing all this.

Letting a politically selected group of eleven residents manage the (astronomical) transfer tax revenue will lead to favoritism, patronage and cronyism in postings to the committee and allocation of tax revenues, which will be almost impossible to avoid. This management board will become a political fiefdom with a long life expectancy and powerful leverage over commercial activities and political fundraising via affected industries (in particular construction and the management of the affordable buildings). 

These industries already have overwhelming influence on the city council due to campaign contributions and lobbying. Leading to the current manipulation of residents by councilors using half-truths and false logic, and of the regulatory capture of the council by favored industries and the shutting out of residents from the decision process.

This tax will magnify and perpetuate our city council’s dismissal of residents’ quality of life and welfare.

And remember, the new buildings will be for people moving to the city from elsewhere… for whom we will have destroyed our property tax basis, our schools, police, roads, libraries, etc, etc.

What a horror show.

Kim Blide, Santa Monica