City Council will meet on Tuesday, July 26 to rehash debates over proposed ballot measures that could raise local taxes and revise rules for rent control. 

Council took the first bite of the ballot measure apple on July 12 but after hours of discussion and heated debate, all ballot measures decisions were continued to this week. 

The first of two transfer tax measures has already qualified for the ballot through signature gathering but Council is required to formally approve it for November. 

The Funding for Homelessness Prevention, Affordable Housing, and School Ballot Measure would establish a third tier of local property transfer tax, which would charge a 5 percent rate for properties worth 8 million or more in value. Santa Monica already has two tiers of real estate transfer tax charging 0.3 percent on transfers under $5 million in value and 0.6 percent on transfers over $5 million in value.

The measure was brought forward by Mayor Sue Himmelrich, her husband Michael Soloff and President of the Santa Monica Democratic Club Jon Katz. Measure supporters estimate that it would raise $50 million annually and require that the first $10 million raised go to local schools and the remaining revenue go into a fund for affordable housing construction and rental subsidies to protect residents from falling into homelessness.

Councilman Phil Brock has proposed a competing measure that initially charged a 1.5 percent tax on properties sales over $8 million. Brock’s measure underwent revisions during Council discussion on July 12 including raising the proposed tax by .5% and adding a 10 year sunset clause.

Brock’s measure would put money into the City’s General Fund which can be used for any expense. Brock has listed preferences for the spending but there’s no way to enforce those once the measure passes. Council has the option to reject Brock’s measure entirely, pass it as it will be proposed on Tuesday or make further revisions. 

Council will also debate ballot measures that would amend the city charter and alter rent control rules. On July 12, staff were directed to prepare two new ballot measures after the Council rejected proposed language provided by the Rent Control Board.

According to the City Attorney’s Office, one measure would set a 3% cap on annual rent increases (down from 6% now). The other would authorize the City Council to impose additional rent limitations during a declared emergency.

Other business:

Council will be asked to make revisions to rules for the beach path and street parking. 

In 2013, the city prohibited pedicabs from operating on the beach bike path. However, pedicab services do regularly operate along the bike path and staff are now recommending non-electric pedicabs be formally allowed as the devices serve as a transportation option and tourist attraction. In addition, staff said the recent widening of the path eliminates some safety concerns. 

“Additionally, staff recommends recodifying the prohibition of vehicle driving and parking on public sidewalks and parkways since it was discovered that the online version of the City’s Municipal Code had inadvertently removed the code section from public view,” said the staff report. “Although the regulation remains in effect, it is presented for recodification to ease enforcement.”

Council will meet on Tuesday, July 26. Closed session begins at 5:30 p.m. Meetings are available in person at City Hall, on City TV or streaming online.

editor@smdp.com