Voters Approve 264 Local Tax Measures

Voters approved 264 of the 390 local tax and bond measures on the November 6 ballot. They rejected 61 measures, and another 65 are still too close based on preliminary results (they are within plus or minus 3.5 percent of their required vote thresholds).

For complete results, click here for the full CalTax list of local ballot measures.

Some of the votes may have been influenced by skewed ballot language written by the local governments that put the measures on the ballot, and by local governments’ use of public funds to campaign in support of tax increases.

One CalTax-opposed local measure, Proposition C in San Francisco, was approved in a controversial vote, and another, Measure W in Los Angeles County, is too close to call based on the early vote count.

Proposition C, which imposes a 1.5 percent gross receipts tax on any businesses located in San Francisco making more than $50 million annually, with revenue used to fund homeless services, passed with 59.91 percent of the vote.

The measure was additionally opposed by San Francisco Mayor London Breed and state Senator Scott Wiener. The tax increase will cost San Franciscan taxpayers $280 million to $300 million annually.

Although Proposition C included a special tax that requires a two-thirds vote under the state constitution, it passed with 59.9 percent based on a legal interpretation by the San Francisco City Attorney that under the California Supreme Court’s decision in the City of Upland v. California Cannabis Coalition, the taxpayer protections of Proposition 13 and Proposition 26 do not apply to tax measures put on the ballot via the local initiative process.

In June, another San Francisco gross receipts tax increase – also named Proposition C – was the first measure to pass under the city attorney’s interpretation. Business and taxpayer groups filed suit shortly after passage, and the litigation is pending.

In Los Angeles, Measure W had 67.48 percent of the vote in the initial tally. If it stays above the two-thirds threshold, it will impose a 2.5-cent parcel tax on each square foot of “impermeable land” through which rainwater cannot pass. The revenue would be earmarked to fund a variety of projects relating to stormwater and water retention. The increase would cost Los Angeles taxpayers an additional $300 million annually.

CalTax filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission, the state’s political watchdog, alleging the county’s Board of Supervisors broke the law by spending public funds on campaign activities, and additionally broke campaign finance laws by failing to disclose the funds it spent to promote passage of the measure. The FPPC has not announced whether it will investigate the county’s violations.

The charts below break down the local election results by type of taxes and bonds.

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