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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
Local

City of Oakland
Measure W - 2/3 Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results

Passed

109,504 votes yes (70.04%)

46,849 votes no (29.96%)

100% of precincts reporting (275/275).

Vacant Property Tax
— undefined

Shall the Measure, to fund homeless services and resources to address illegal dumping, and discourage vacant properties, by enacting a Vacant Property Tax on parcels used less than 50 days per year, at annual rates of $6,000 per parcel, $3,000 for condominium units, and other specified rates; raising about $10,000,000 annually for 20 years; with community oversight and exemptions for very low income, low-income seniors and hardship, be adopted?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Barbara J Parker city attorney

This Measure, if adopted by two-thirds of voters, authorizes the City of Oakland to collect an annual tax on vacant properties for twenty (20) years. The purpose of the Measure is to raise revenue primarily for homelessness services, preserve existing and fund new affordable housing options, and illegal dumping remediation. The tax would go into effect ten (10) days after the vote is declared by Oakland City Council, and be imposed no sooner than fiscal year 2020-21 for parcels vacant in the previous calendar year.

 

The revenue generated from this tax would be designated to a restricted fund to be used primarily for homeless services and for operations costs of the Commission on Homelessness, which would provide oversight for use of Measure revenue and specified tax administration costs. At least twenty-five percent (25%) of the revenue would be used to address blight and illegal dumping.

 

The Measure requires the City to maintain General Purpose Fund spending on illegal dumping remediation at least at the 2016-17 fiscal year level in order to collect the tax. In that year, the City’s budget did not include any appropriations in the General Purpose Fund toward illegal dumping.

 

Proposed Measure tax rates vary by property type as shown below:

 

Property Type

Proposed Measure Tax Rate

Residential, or Nonresidential, or Undeveloped

$6,000 per vacant parcel

Condominium, duplex, or townhouse unit under separate ownership

$3,000 per vacant residential unit

Parcel with ground floor commercial activity allowed, but vacant

$3,000 per vacant parcel

 

 

 

Property owners can request an exemption from this tax under certain circumstances including, but not limited to, income, age, disability and work in progress on the property.

 

At any time, the City Council may lower, but not increase the rates, and it may adopt new exemption categories, which may reduce anticipated City revenue.

 

Other Programs

 

Current spending on homelessness, affordable and transitional housing, infrastructure repairs, and illegal dumping is funded from various sources, including but not limited to, Measure KK (approximately $35 million annually), General Fund (approximately $4.6 million annually), state funds, and one-time expenditures the City makes.

 

Financial effect

Oakland office of city auditor

Financial Impact

 

Based on factors such as property owner exemptions estimated to range from 60% to 75%, the City of Oakland Finance Department estimates annual revenue between $6.6 and $10.6 million.

 

Tax collection expenses specifically related to tax collection are capped at 15% of revenues collected.

 

The City’s Finance Department estimates the annual cost to administer this Measure would be approximately $452,000, dedicated to staffing positions to support the Commission, tax administration, collection and enforcement fees. In addition, they estimate a one-time startup cost of $100,000 for financial database infrastructure, web development and mailing services.

 

Disclaimer

 

The Office of the City Auditor has not audited and, as such, has not validated the City of Oakland Finance Department’s financial and statistical analysis of this Measure. References to this data in our independent analysis represent the best data available at this time.

 

 

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Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

 

Oakland has been facing skyrocketing rates of homelessness, with numbers in our community increasing dramatically in recent years. This situation is causing widespread suffering, as people are living in difficult situations in underpasses and sidewalks, often without access to water, bathrooms.

 

At the same time, there are estimated to be at least 5,000 vacant properties in the City of Oakland, which can harm our community, attracting crime, blight and illegal dumping. Vacant properties take up space that could be used for housing and other purposes, thereby reducing jobs, homes, and revenue.

 

This Measure places an annual tax of $6,000 on vacant parcels in Oakland, other than those exempted. The exemptions include, non-profits, financial hardship, and circumstances that prevent the use of the property. Properties in use at least 50 days per year are not considered vacant and will not be taxed.

 

The money raised by the tax will be used to reduce homelessness, provide services to homeless people, and support the protection and production of affordable housing, and 25% of the funds will go towards remediating blight and illegal dumping.

 

This Measure establishes a Community Commission, to make recommendations and oversee the use of the funds, and to make sure the Measure is being properly implemented.

 

A wide range of organizations and community leaders endorse this Measure, including the Homeless Advocacy Working Group, Sustainable Economies Law Center, and Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley.

 

We have an opportunity to reduce human suffering and improve quality of life by helping to solve homelessness and blight and encourage productive uses of properties. Please vote Yes to fund meaningful solutions to homelessness,

 

Rebecca Kaplan

 

Oakland Councilmember At-Large

 

James Vann

 

Oakland Homeless Advocacy Working Group

 

Felipe Ortega de Cuevas
SEIU Local 1021

 

Abel Guillen

 

Oakland Councilmember

 

Dan Kalb

 

Oakland Councilmember

 

Arguments AGAINST

Of all the poorly written, poorly thought through measures on the ballot, Measure W is one of the Worst.

 

Cynically, the proponents use homelessness and illegal dumping to garner support for a new tax measure, an astronomical $3,000- $6,000 per property. Measure W was so poorly written it was rushed on the ballot without public input or debate.

 

There are no guarantees the new tax will be directed to homelessness or blight. In fact, many of the vacant blighted properties in Oakland are owned by the City or on public property but politicians exempted the city.

 

Measure W purports to “reduce suffering and solve homelessness” but there is no plan, other than raising money.

 

If a property (including a home or apartment) is vacant for any reason, the City will bill you up to $6,000 annually.

 

The “Community Commission” the proponents tout as making recommendations and overseeing the money are political appointees of the council members and there are no written guidelines or rules on how the money would be spent.

 

Measure W is a scam to increase revenue to the city to pay for pensions and growing bureaucracy. Today the City of Oakland’s operating budget is a whopping $1.5 BILLION dollars a year—an increase of almost $500 million in less than 10 years.

 

Since the City has no effective program to help the homeless, most of the funds will be spent on city bureaucracy with only a pittance spent on the homeless.

 

Vote NO on W.

 

 

 

s/Vito Esposito

 

Homeowner

 

 

 

s/Homayoun Ghaderi

 

Homeowner

 

 

 

s/Karen Francisco

 

Homeowner

 

Replies to Arguments FOR

 

Vote NO on this confusing, poorly written, new tax—an astonishing $6,000 per home and $3,000 per condo.

 

Homelessness is a serious issue the City must address.  But using this issue merely to pass a new tax is dishonest and unethical.

 

It’s clear from this proposal that our politicians have no plan to address homelessness. They know we want them to do something, but they have no answers.

 

Everywhere else, the politicians must come up with a solid proposal, run test programs, show us what they plan to do and how much it will cost.

 

Only in Oakland do they ask for more money first and then hope to come up with a coherent program to use it. Oaklanders are smarter than that!

 

By the City’s own admission, this tax will cost Oakland millions of dollars before they even collect a single cent.

 

There is no independent oversight and no commitment to use the money as promised. Elected officials can use the money for anything they want, including paying for Oakland’s growing bureaucracy.

 

We already have a strict laws to force owners to fix blighted properties.

 

Why not enforce existing laws first?

 

Is this proposed tax about cleaning up the city, or is it simply a money grab?

 

The rules are complicated and poorly written. Property owners will be at the mercy of a confusing bureaucratic process just to decide what to do with their own property.

 

If the City wants more money to address homelessness, we want to first see a real plan based on what has worked in other cities. San Francisco has a variety of programs. Are they being tried in Oakland?

 

Homelessness is a serious issue the City must address. This tax won’t do it!

 

Until serious studies are done and realistic plans proposed, vote NO!

 

s/ Georgia W. Richardson

 

Property Owner

 

s/ Vito Esposito

 

Homeowner

 

s/ Karen Francisco

 

Homeowner

 

s/Homayoun Ghaderi

 

Homeowner

 

s/ Grant Chappell

 

Homeowner

 

Who gave money?

To see who is funding ballot measures in Oakland, visit Open Disclosure Oakland.

More information

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