Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

SM Group Sues City Hall

‘No Taxes to Fund Development’ (NTFD), a citizen’s group formed to oppose a City Hall sponsored tax hike that will appear on this November’s ballot, filed a lawsuit Monday, Aug 11, 2014 against the City of Santa Monica in Superior Court.

NTFD’s lawsuit seeks to prevent the publishing of the rebuttals to the ballot arguments opposing the tax hike measure in all places including the official Sample Voter Guide mailed by the City.

The lawsuit contends the City Clerk of Santa Monica wrongly accepted the proponent’s rebuttals because of irregularities regarding the official signatures and then compounded the wrong by editing the documents themselves. Both actions are spelled out in the election code as being improper and illegal.

The major issue is that two of the signatories on the arguments and rebuttals are different. The law requires that signatories for ballot arguments and rebuttals be the same.

Mathew Millen who filed the suit states that the proponents of the tax hike measure are, “City Hall insiders and local politicians who know the rules yet ignored them by illegally changing signatories. Santa Monica City Councilman Ted Winterer and League of Women Voters President Ann Williams cannot sign the rebuttals because they did not sign the measure’s ballot argument.”

NTFD contends the attitude of the measure’s proponents is a reflection of the measure itself which looks to unfairly raise taxes to fund even more development in Santa Monica.

“Santa Monicans are fed up with overdevelopment and the problems it causes such as traffic congestion, ‘canyon-ization’ of streets, and now water use,” says NTFD spokesperson Peter Tigler. “The success of Santa Monica voters in stopping a huge, mixed-use development on Olympic Blvd and a rapidly growing slow-growth movement is an indication that voters will reject a tax hike desired by City Hall politicians as a way to fund even more unwanted development.”

The tax itself is called the Real Property Transfer Tax. If approved by voters in November, it will triple from $3000 to $9000 per $1M of the sales price of a property. The seller will pay following current practice. Even at current rates, Santa Monicans pay one of the highest taxes of its kind in the state.

At current prices, the average home in Sunset Park would see a $15,000 tax bill and the average mid-city apartment building would see a $45,000 tax bill when the property is sold. Such an unreasonably high tax will likely lead to higher housing costs, higher rents and higher prices for goods and services.

John Kelso, long time Santa Monica tenant and signer of the anti-development arguments thinks the rush to develop with City collected funds would lead to older units being torn down. “My friends in older apartments are at risk of being evicted. It’s already happening. Just look at what happened on Virginia Ave near Cloverfield Blvd - a slew of older bungalows were torn down to make way for new high density buildings.”

The permanent tax never expires creating an ominous overbuilt future for us all as our taxpayer money will be given away to developers, forever.

City Hall proposes to use the continuous money stream generated by the tax exclusively to build large, multi-story developments that are also given bonuses for extra heights and densities. This will burden infrastructure and negatively impact quality of life.


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