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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Smart Voter
San Mateo County, CA June 3, 2008 Election
Measure Q
Maintenance of Local Services Measure
City of Half Moon Bay

Tax Measure - 55% Approval Required

Pass: 1,523 / 67.3% Yes votes ...... 741 / 32.7% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Jul 31 1:37pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (8/8)
28.9% Voter Turnout (104,160/360,018)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

To provide and maintain City of Half Moon Bay's library services; youth and senior facilities, programs and services; police services; park and recreational facilities and programs; city streets and other city purposes; shall an ordiance be adopted increasing the transient occupancy tax, which is general tax on the cost of hotel rooms, paid by the person renting the room, from 10 percent to 12 percent of the room rate?

Impartial Analysis from Adam U. Lindgren, City Attorney
The City Council of the City of Half Moon Bay called a special election to place Measure Q before the voters to approve a two percent increase in the City's Transient Occupancy Tax, a tax paid only by hotel guests. This initiative measure has been designated as a general tax that required approval of a majority of the voters voting on the issue at the June 3, 2008, election. The City Council called the special election based on its finding that a fiscal emergency exists that required it to place the tax on the June 3, 2008 election.

Chapter 3.12 of the Half Moon Bay Municipal Code sets forth the provisions of the City's Transient Occupancy Tax. A Transient Occupancy Tax is a tax paid by a guest on the rental of a hotel room. "Hotel" is defined in Municipal Code Section 3.12.020(A) as an inn, tourist home or house, motel, studio hotel, bachelor hotel, lodging house, rooming house, apartment house, dormitory, public or private club, mobilehome or house trailer. The hotel operator collects this tax from its guests and transmits the funds to the City. Municipal Code 3.12.030 currently sets this tax at a rate of ten percent (10%) of the rent charged by the hotel operator.

This initiative measure, if approved by the voters, will amend Section 3.12.030 of the Half Moon Bay Municipal Code by raising the City's Transient Occupancy Tax rate from ten percent (10%) of the room rate charged to twelve percent (12%) of the room rate charged.

The proceeds of a general tax are unrestricted and may be used by the City to fund any and all general services. The proceeds from the proposed two percent (2%) general tax increase will be placed into the general fund and can be spent by the City for any governmental purposes, including but not limited to: library services; youth and senior facilities; programs and services; police services; park and recreational facilities and programs; and City streets. The tax proceeds can also be used for other City purposes.

If this initiative measure is approved, voter approval would be required for future increases to the tax rate or revisions to the methodology for calculating the tax rate.

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Arguments For Measure Q Arguments Against Measure Q
Let's maintain our local services and facilities in Half Moon Bay --- Vote Yes on Measure Q

  • Yes on Measure Q will maintain library services

  • Yes on Measure Q will maintain youth and senior facilities, programs, and services

  • Yes on Measure Q will maintain police services

  • Yes on Measure Q will maintain park and recreational facilities and programs

  • Yes on Measure Q will maintain city streets

  • And, Yes on Measure Q does not cost Half Moon Bay residents

Each year Half Moon Bay considers way to balance our city budget and operate more effectively without negatively impacting city services or reducing emergency reserves. Despite these efforts, detailed budget projections clearly show on-going deficits. After carefully reviewing all options, it was decided that Measure Q would be the best way to address this problem and Half Moon Bay residents won't have to pay a penny.

We support a YES vote on Measure Q for many reasons:

  • Funds collected will be paid by non-residents who stay at local hotels. Residents will not pay.

  • Funds are generated locally and can't be taken away by the State.

  • The money will help maintain our library, parks, senior and youth programs, and public safety services.

  • A small hotel room increase of only 2% will not hurt local hotel and business owners or prevent tourist dollars from coming to our community.

Yes on Measure Q is the most prudent way for our community to maintain key and vital city services without costing residents. Please join your neighbors, community leaders, business owners, and the entire Half Moon Bay City Council in voting Yes on Measure Q.

Vote YES on Measure Q

/s/ Bonnie McClung, Mayor of Half Moon Bay

/s/ Beverly Ashcraft, Businesswoman

/s/ Victor Tigerman, Senior Coastide Board Member

/s/ John Sanchez, Sergeant, Half Moon Bay Police Department

/s/ Naomi Patridge, Council Member

In a February 27 front page story, "Dealing with Recession: Depsite relative wealth, Coastside not immune from darkening economy", the Half Moon Bay Review reports: "To a growing number of Coastsiders ... it means trouble finding a job, trouble keeping a home, trouble dealing with it all."

But it's not just Coastsiders suffering. County wide, the number of unemployed is up 12% and foreclosures are up 84%. Across America, the story is much the same: "Most economists in survey say recession is here ... retail sales decline" (Wall Street Journal, March 13). It's official:

We're in a recession. Now is NOT the time for a tax increase!

This Transient Occupancy Tax increases the cost of hotel stays for visitors and tourists --- Half Moon Bay's lifeblood. In the tough times we are entering, Half Moon Bay will increasingly compete with other leisure destinations to attract visitors - especially repeat visitors - and the income they provide for hotels, shops, and services.

Raising the cost of hotel rooms here will make the city less competitive. Tourists will go elsewhere. Hotels will be the first to suffer but other businesses will soon share their pain. And so will the City of Half Moon Bay.

Voters have to be smart on this. Taxes on tourists are always popular because they are paid by "someone else". But raise those taxes above what the market will bear and watch the tourists disappear, and with them the economic vitality of Half Moon Bay. Visitors already have enough to deal with: gas prices going through the roof; job losses and foreclosures; and the increasing financial insecurity a recession brings. And the city thinks they won't notice high taxes and increased hotel rates?

A tax increase now in insane.


/s/ D.F. Pettengill, Treasurer, Coastside Citizens for Good Government

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Created: July 31, 2008 13:37 PDT
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