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Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Ass'n Says ACA 1 (Sac'to-Written Constitutional Amendment That Would Lower Voter Approval Level For Cities To Raise Taxes) Is "Attack On Prop 13," Group's Legislative Director Says LB Councilmembers Should Cast Public Vote Showing If They Support Or Oppose This

In March, Mayor Garcia told Sac'to lawmakers City of LB supports ACA 1 without Council vote on whether to support it


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(April 5, 2019, 6:55 p.m.) -- The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has issued an "Action Alert" calling Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 (ACA 1, proposed ballot measure to lower Prop 13's taxpayer-protective 2/3 voter approval margin to raise taxes to 55%) "an attack on Proposition 13" by making it easier for cities to impose various types of sales taxes and parcel taxes.

The group's Legislative Director, David Wolfe, told LBREPORT.com (AUDIO below) that Long Beach City Councilmembers should go on record indicating their position on ACA 1 after LB Mayor Garcia sent a letter to state lawmakers contending that City of Long Beach supports the ACA1 despite the fact LB's policy-setting City Council didn't cast a publicly recorded vote on whether to support ACA 1.

Mr. Wolfe said his organization has about 30% registered Democrats among its statewide members ("there's nothing partisan about taxes or Prop 13") and Long Beach-area Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (D, LB-SP) will be faced with voting on the measure (likely in May or June) at which time seven Assemblymembers would have to abstain or vote "no" to stop it from advancing further.

For on-demand audio of salient parts of our conversation, click here. (8:35, mp3)

Mr. Wolfe said ACA 1 "undermines and eviscerates the provisions of Proposition 13. It removes the two-thirds vote for all local special taxes including sales and parcel taxes [for]...a wide variety of infrastructure projects including affordable housing. It could hundreds of dollars to property tax bills up and down the state...This could get really expensive for local property owners, residential and businesses I might add real quick." He added that he considers it "counter-intuitive" to claim ACA 1 supports affordable housing when it since "parcel taxes are very regressive; you pay the same amount of money regardless of the size of your home or residence of the amount of income that you make...Why would we add additional property tax burdens in the form of parcel taxes and make it more difficult for people to own homes...and it doesn't fix our affordable housing issues."

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Mr. Wolfe said "the jury is still out on whether or not we're going to be successful [in stopping ACA 1.] This is the first time in the 40 year history of Proposition 13 that both houses have a 2/3 super-majority in the legislature...We're dealing with unprecedented territory here and obviously Prop 13 has bipartisan support, it has majority voter approval [in polls] in every area of California with the exception of the San Francisco Bay Area..."

Mr. Wolfe also commented on a March 20, 2019 letter sent by Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia who without a publicly recorded vote by LB's policy-setting City Council on ACA 1 -- represented to key Assemblymembers that the City of Long Beach supports ACA 1. He noted that LB City Council "hasn't taken a position on the measure, and I think they should...City Councilmembers need to go on record indicating whether or not they support or oppose a measure that 60% of the population [in polls] does indeed clearly support."

HJTA's Action Alert noted that it's now joined in opposition to ACA1 by groups including the California Taxpayers Association (Cal-Tax) and the Family Business Association of California....and HJTA is "committed to the fight to stop ACA 1 from becoming law."

As previously reported by LBREPORT.com, on March 20, LB Mayor Garcia sent state lawmakers a letter contending that the City of Long Beach supports ACA 1 although LB's policy setting City Council never took up the measure and never cast a publicly recorded vote either to support or oppose the measure.

In his letter dated March 20, 2019, Mayor Garcia stated in pertinent part:

...ACA 1 would provide Long Beach with a more realistic financing option to fund an increase in the supply of affordable housing, and to address the numerous local public infrastructure challenges cities are facing. The City supports policies that promote the development of affordable and accessible housing. Over the last decade, the City has facilitated the construction of 1,694 new affordable units, preserved nearly 2,000 units, rehabilitated 367 units, and passed the voter-supported Measure A to fund infrastructure and public safety improvements. In addition, the City is developing inclusionary zoning and tenant assistance policies and has 800 affordable units in the development pipeline. To achieve the same or greater levels of affordable housing production moving forward, it is critical to provide opportunities for additional funding sources. ACA 1 would help the City achieve this goal.

ACA 1 will create a viable financing tool to help address important community needs for affordable housing and public infrastructure. This proposal also preserves local votersí control over how their tax dollars are spent, since voters would still need to overwhelmingly support a bond or special tax (with 55 percent) for it to be approved. Rising housing costs are impacting nearly all California communities. ACA 1 (Aguiar-Curry) not only allows local officials to have a greater role in funding local housing and infrastructure needs, but it gives Long Beach residents a tool to directly impact their communities.

Given these reasons, the City of Long Beach supports ACA 1 (Aguiar-Curry)...

a Sacramento-proposed state constitutional amendment that the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association strongly opposes as an attack on Proposition 13.

If put on the ballot by 2/3 of Assembly members and state Senators (Democrats hold super-majorities in both chambers) and approved by a majority of CA voters, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 (ACA 1, text here) would reduce Prop 13's 2/3 voter-approval requirement to 55% for City Hall-sought debt-bonds and special taxes for "affordable" housing (including for low-, or very low income households), homeless supportive housing (including for persons deemed at "high risk of long-term or intermittent homelessness") and "public infrastructure" very broadly defined, including but not limited to the following projects:

  • a) Water or protect water quality;
  • b) Sanitary sewer;
  • c) Treatment of wastewater or reduction of pollution from stormwater runoff;
  • d) Protection of property from impacts of sea level rise;
  • e) Parks and recreation facilities;
  • f) Open space;
  • g) Improvements to transit and streets and highways;
  • h) Flood control;
  • i) Broadband internet access service expansion in underserved areas;
  • j) Local hospital construction;
  • k) Public safety buildings or facilities, equipment related to fire suppression, emergency response equipment, or interoperable communications equipment for direct and exclusive use by fire, emergency response, police or sheriff personnel; and,
  • l) Public library facilities.
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    Under LB's City Charter, LB's non-voting Mayor has no authority to set policy for the City of Long Beach; a City Council majority decides city policy in publicly voted actions...and the Council never explicitly discussed or cast a recorded vote to support ACA 1.

    The Council did vote to approve a "state legislative agenda," an annual list of general policies that the City will support or oppose, but they don't explicitly endorse amending the state constitution to change Proposition 13 or approve making it easier to increase LB taxpayers' burden. The Council-approved 2019 state legislative agenda simply includes the following:

    Support policies, legislation and grants that increase funding for affordable housing when equitable to Long Beach...

    ...Support policies, legislation and grants to maximize funding and funding flexibility for the development and enhancement of affordable and/or accessible housing within the City...

    The Council also previously approved a number of strategies to promote affordable housing, one of which states:

    Track federal and State legislative activities and support legislation that increases funding for affordable housing.

    Sponsor

    Sponsor

    The Mayor's March 20 letter came one week before ACA 1 received its first and only scheduled Assembly policy committee hearing. On March 27, the Assembly's Local Government Committee (Dems holding a majority) voted 5-2-1 to send ACA 1 to the Assembly Appropriations Committee (a fiscal analysis/non-policy committee one step from the Assembly floor.)

    Sponsor


    The Assembly Local Government Committee's legislative analysis of ACA 1 stated in pertinent part:

    SUMMARY: Proposes amendments to the California Constitution to allow a city, county, or special district, with 55% voter approval, to incur bonded indebtedness or impose specified special taxes to fund projects for affordable housing, permanent supportive housing, or public infrastructure. Specifically, this bill:

    • 1) Allows a city, county, city and county, or special district, to incur indebtedness in the form of general obligation (GO) bonds to fund the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or replacement of public infrastructure, affordable housing, or permanent supportive housing for persons at risk of chronic homelessness, including persons with mental illness, or the acquisition or lease of real property for public infrastructure, affordable housing, or permanent supportive housing, as defined, to be approved by 55% of the voters voting on the proposition.

    • 2) Allows a city, county, city and county, or special district, to impose, extend, or increase a sales and use tax or transactions and use tax, or parcel tax, for the purposes of funding the construction, rehabilitation, or replacement of public infrastructure, affordable housing, or permanent supportive housing for persons at risk of chronic homelessness, including persons with mental illness, or the acquisition or lease of real property for public infrastructure, affordable housing, or permanent supportive housing, as defined, if the proposition proposing that tax is approved by 55% of the voters voting on the proposition.

    • 3) Defines the following terms:

      a) "Affordable housing" to include housing developments, or portions of housing developments, that provide workforce housing affordable to households earning up to 150% of countywide median income, and housing developments, or portions of housing developments, that provide housing affordable to lower, low-, or very low income households;

      b) "At risk of chronic homelessness" to include, but not be limited to, persons who are at high risk of long-term or intermittent homelessness, including persons with mental illness exiting institutionalized settings, including, but not limited to, jail and mental health facilities, who were homeless prior to admission, transition age youth experiencing homelessness or with significant barriers to housing stability, and others, as defined in program guidelines;

      c) "Permanent supportive housing" to mean housing with no limit on length of stay, that is occupied by the target population, and that is linked to onside or offside services that assist residents in retaining the housing, improving their health status, and maximizing their ability to live and, when possible, work in the community. "Permanent supportive housing" includes associated facilities, if those facilities are used to provide services to housing residents; and,

      d) "Special district" to mean an agency of the state, formed pursuant to general law or special act, for the local performance of governmental or proprietary functions with limited geographic boundaries, and includes a transit district, except that "special district" does not include a school district, redevelopment agency, or successor agency to a dissolved redevelopment agency.

      4) Defines "public infrastructure" to include, but not be limited to, projects that provide any of the following:

      a) Water or protect water quality;

    • b) Sanitary sewer;
    • c) Treatment of wastewater or reduction of pollution from stormwater runoff;
    • d) Protection of property from impacts of sea level rise;
    • e) Parks and recreation facilities;
    • f) Open space;
    • g) Improvements to transit and streets and highways;
    • h) Flood control;
    • i) Broadband internet access service expansion in underserved areas;
    • j) Local hospital construction;
    • k) Public safety buildings or facilities, equipment related to fire suppression, emergency response equipment, or interoperable communications equipment for direct and exclusive use by fire, emergency response, police or sheriff personnel; and,
    • l) Public library facilities.
    • ...Author's Statement. According to the author, "In practice, local officials propose a local bond or special tax, and then it is up to the voters in that community to decide whether they support the idea or not. Local governments and local voters know best what their communities need. In some neighborhoods this means a new library or fire station; in others this means an increase in the affordable housing stock. ACA 1 will empower local governments to address local priorities without needing to wait for state and federal funding initiatives. A majority vote tax measure is much more likely to pass, while voters would still need to overwhelmingly support a bond or special tax in order for it to be approved with 55 percent of the vote. ACA 1 will level the playing field and create parity between school districts and cities, counties, and special districts, so that all local governments have a viable financing tool to address community needs."

      ...Arguments in Support. Supporters argue that when the state seeks voter approval for a statewide measure, it requires a simple majority, but when a city or county seeks voter approval for a similar investment, they face a stringent two-thirds vote threshold. Supporters believe ACA 1 will level the playing field and create parity with school districts, which need 55% approval for school construction, so that cities, counties and special districts have a viable financing tool to help address important community needs for affordable housing, public infrastructure, and permanent supportive housing. Because of the numerous challenges in funding important public infrastructure and housing projects for their communities, supporters argue that this constitutional amendment is necessary to deal with the urgent need for investment in housing, and the chronic underfunding of local infrastructure to improve storm water management, transit development, park facilities, and streets and roads. Supporters also argue that one of the major obstacles to building housing, particularly in infill areas, is the cost of critical infrastructure, which often neither the developer or the city or county has the money to fund.

      Arguments in Opposition. Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association argues that "ACA 1 repeals one of the most important protections in Proposition 13 by lowering the existing twothirds vote threshold for both local bonds and special taxes to 55 percent for a myriad of purposes. While revenue raised from ACA 1 may slightly increase the affordable housing stock, it will also have the perversely negative effect of increasing the cost of housing dramatically. Nationwide, according to the National Association of Home Builders, an increase of just $1,000 in the new median home price knocks 120,000 potential buyers out of the market. Making it easier to approve hundreds of dollars a year in new annual bonds and parcel won't make it easier to afford a home, and it won't make it easier for renters, a third of whom spend half their take home pay on rent, to be able to save. With these housing expenses, it's little wonder that California's homeownership rate of 54 percent is well off the national average of 64 percent, and that the large majority of the 100,000 people who leave California each year make less than $90,000. Proposition 13 is not the cause of California's evaporating middle-class."

      Sponsor

      Sponsor

      REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:
      

      Support
      American Planning Association, California Chapter Association of California Healthcare Districts California Association of Councils of Government California Association of Housing Authorities California Association of Sanitation Agencies California Coalition for Rural Housing California Contract Cities Association California Housing Consortium California Housing Partnership California Labor Federation, Afl-Cio California Library Association California Park & Recreation Society California Professional Firefighters California Special Districts Association California State Association Of Counties California State Association Of Electrical Workers California State Council Of Laborers California State Pipe Trades Council California Transit Association California Yimby City of Camarillo City Of Davis City of Gustine City Of Laguna Beach City Of Lodi City of Manteca City Of Moorpark City Of San Luis Obispo County of Santa Clara East Bay for Everyone East Bay Municipal Utility District East Bay Regional Parks District Greater Merced Chamber of Commerce Housing California International Union Of Elevator Constructors, Local 18 International Union Of Elevator Constructors, Local 8 International Union Of Operating Engineers, Cal-Nevada Conference League Of California Cities Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Non-Profit Housing Association Of Northern California Professional Engineers In California Government San Diego Housing Federation San Mateo County-City/County Association Of Governments Santa Clara Valley Water District Silicon Valley At Home (Sv@Home) Solano Transportation Authority Southern California Association Of Nonprofit Housing Spur The Two Hundred Urban Counties Of California Ventura Council Of Governments Western States Council Sheet Metal, Air, Rail And Transportation Oppose Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association Valley Industry and Commerce Association



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