|(July 26, 2018, 8:55 a.m.) -- Mayor Robert Garcia, Councilman Rex Richardson and a number of Councilmembers have effectively signaled their support for a Long Beach tax increase of some currently unspecified type on some currently unspecified group of taxpayers to provide what they called a "dedicated local revenue source" -- not for the November 2018 LB ballot [when Garcia seeks voter approval for Charter Amendments] but at some at some future point [after Mayor Garcia says tax increase is supported by sufficient constituencies to mount a successful campaign.] The publicly stated purpose for the "dedicated local revenue source"/tax increase will be to enable more "affordable" (low income/subsidized) housing and provide more homeless-related services.
That was the outcome of two and a half hour Council discussion (including public testimony) on a July 24 item agendized by Councilmembers Richardson, Gonzalez, Austin and Andrews who sought management options -- initially for consideration at the next available Council meeting -- of an unspecified "dedicated local revenue source."
Not one Councilmember supportive of a "dedicated local funding source" publicly uttered the word "tax." (Lead-agendizer Richardson only acknowledged in a single reference that his proposal involved what he called the "t" word.)
Mayor Garcia went so far as to defensively claim that he and the Council aren't responsible for increasing LB taxes.
[Scroll down for further.]
|Mayor Garcia stated: "As a reminder, the City doesn't, we don't tax anybody. The taxes that pass the City are voted on by the voters, and so this Council doesn't go and increase someone's tax or do a parcel tax. That is only decided by voters in the city..." [Editor note: Garcia headed the political committee carrying his name that ran a roughly $600,000 campaign for the June 2016 Measure "blank check" sales tax increase, put on the ballot without dissent by the Council, that brought LB the highest sales tax rate in CA, tied with only a few other cities.]
At the same time as he absolved himself and the Council of responsibility for LB tax increases, Mayor Garcia stated: "Should this City look and work with the community a local source of to fund more affordable housing? The answer in my opinion is absolutely "yes."...
Garcia argued that some type of "dedicated local revenue source" is needed for affordable housing after Sacramento dissolved local Redevelopment Agencies statewide [that had allowed LB City Hall to divert property tax revenue to float debt that enabled City Hall-favored developers to buy "blighted" properties for projects in locations and types approved by City Hall.]
3rd dist. Councilwoman Suzie Price was the only Councilmember to speak the word "tax"...in citing reasons on the merits why she didn't support Richardson's proposal as agendized. Councilwoman Price said the item combined two complex, important but separate issues -- "affordable housing" and "homelessness" that deserved thoughtful but separate discussion. She added that in her view, the agenda item attached "homelessness" to make it sound more attractive politically...and said she couldn't imagine supporting, or her constituents supporting, a tax increase, as proposed in such preliminary form as was agendized.
Councilman Richardson defended his proposal, arguing it reflected previous Council discussions, including a 2017 Council meeting at which a city staff memo listed the option of a "bond" (debt bond) among measures to fund affordable housing. Richardson also insisted that "affordable housing" and "homelessness" are linked.
However, Richardson ultimately backed off proposing a measure for the November ballot, saying it would require a special July 31 Council meeting to hear city management's "revenue" options and select one in time for an August 7 Council vote to meet a deadline for the November 8 ballot. Richardson stopped short of opposing a November ballot measure; instead he invited (effectively dared) any of his Council colleagues to make such motion...and none did. That effectively deferred the tax increase discussion...or now.
Unspoken publicly: a November 2018 tax increase ballot measure would have collided with (and perhaps reduced chances of passing) some or all of Mayor Garcia's desired City Charter Amendments on the same ballot (one of which would let the Mayor and Council incumbents seek third terms without facing a term-limit "write-in" requirement.)
Richardson added to his floor motion three additional requests from city management: a measure that would prohibit LB landlords from refusing to rent to individuals holding Section 8 vouchers; a plan to acquire nuisance motels for affordable housing; and a plan to establish a year-round homeless shelter [Richardson suggested considering locations that have already been used for temporary winter shelters.]
During public testimony, developers/operators of "affordable" (subsidized) housing supported a "dedicated local revenue source"...but multiple public speakers had something else in mind. They urged the Council to enact rent control (which Mayor Garcia and Councilmembers have said they oppose) or enact some limits on annual rent increases ("stabilization") and/or enact "just cause eviction" provisions (none of which were part of the agendized item.) At one point, a speaker publicly challenged Mayor Garcia to explain why such measures wouldn't help seniors facing major rent increases in a downtown-adjacent apartment building; he received stony silence from Garcia (ultimately followed by "thank you, next speaker please.")
Private-advocate (lobbyist) Mike Murchison didn't flinch at using the word "tax" in opposition. Noting that other members of LB's business community weren't present to speak, Mr. Murchison applied the word "tax" like a hammer, explicitly urging the Council not to put a parcel tax, or a property tax, or a utility user tax increase on the November ballot...or on any ballot. Mr. Murchison suggested considering other taxes such as a tax on movie tickets, or an entertainment tax.
1st district Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, whose district has the lion's share of "affordable" (low income/subsidized) housing units, urged city management to bring the Council options that spread affordable housing "more equitably" into other Council districts.
2nd dist. Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce proposed a friendly amendment, which Richardson accepted, to have management also hasten a report (that the Council requested months ago) on the feasibility of enabling churches to let homeless persons living in cars park their vehicles on church property for "transitional" purposes if they agree to partake in the City's "continuum of care" services.
Councilman Richardson wrapped up by thanking a lengthy list of "affordable housing" developers/operators and homeless services providers (who'd signed letters he attached to his agendized item) advocating a "dedicated local revenue source."
Stripped of the immediacy of a November 2018 ballot measure tax increase -- but inviting its consideration in upcoming Council meetings for possible future Council-called special elections -- the Council voted 9-0 to direct management to bring the Council options in the coming weeks for a "dedicated local revenue source" for "affordable housing"/homeless issues plus a measure prohibiting landlords from refusing to rent to individuals holding Section 8 vouchers, a plan to acquire nuisance motels for affordable housing, and set up a year-round homeless shelter.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Recommend LBREPORT.com to your Facebook friends:
Follow LBReport.com with:
Contact us: mail@LBReport.com
Hardwood Floor Specialists
Call (562) 422-2800 or (714) 836-7050