Alameda Unified School District parcel tax, Measure E (June 2010)

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An Alameda Unified School District parcel tax, Measure E ballot proposition was on the June 22, 2010 ballot for voters in the Alameda Unified School District in Alameda County, where it was narrowly defeated.[1]

In the wake of Measure E's loss, some members of the school board and community were advocating that another parcel tax vote be scheduled for the spring of 2011.[2]

Measure E would have replaced two existing parcel taxes, Measure A ($189/yr) and Measure H ($120/yr residential and 15 cents sq ft for non-residential), both of which expired in 2011. The Measure E tax would have been in effect for 8 years.

The cost to property owners of the new tax would have been about double what they are paying under the two taxes currently in force.[3] The new tax would have been $659/year for single-family homes, condominium units and apartment buildings with four or fewer units, and .13/square foot for commercial and industrial properties, including apartment buildings with five or more units.[4] There would have been a cap of $9,500 on the tax.[5]

The school district estimated that if the tax had passed, it would have generated $14 million per year for the district.[6]

The election took place on a mail-in ballot basis. Ballots started arriving in voter's mailboxes on May 25.[7]

A 2/3rds supermajority vote was required for approval.

Election results

Measure E
Defeatedd No7,55134.38%
Yes 14,415 65.62%
These final, certified results are from the Alameda County elections office.


Vote Yes on E.jpg


  • Two candidates for mayor of Alameda endorsed a "yes" vote on the parcel tax:
  • Frank Matarrese. He said, "The harsh reality is that we cannot depend on the State to provide our schools with all the revenues they need to provide a quality educational program. For now and for the foreseeable future we’re on our own."[8]
  • Tony Daysog. He said, "The fact of the matter is that when prospective residents and/or businesses look for places to locate, the first question on their mind is, 'How good are the schools?' So, we need the best possible school district if we hope to be the progressive, world-class city we are striving to be."[9]
  • 200 Encinal High School students participated in a variety of after-school classes in early April "to demonstrate their concern for programs they fear they'll lose if the Board of Education has to make millions of dollars in cuts in order to balance its budget."[10] The after-school classes were designed by students and teachers; students demonstrated their love of learning by attending classes in the "Science of Candy," Protest Through Art, Dissection, spoken word, music and psychology.[10]
  • The AUSD Board of Education voted 4-1 to endorse Measure E in April 2010. (Board member Patricia Herrera Spencer was the "no" vote.)[11]
  • Alameda Firefighters IAFF Local 689 endorsed it.[12]
  • The Alameda City Council voted unanimously on May 4 to endorse Measure E.[5]
  • Susan Davis, who wrote for the "In Alameda Blog" that was sponsored by the San Francisco Chronicle.[13]

Arguments in favor

  • Mike Cooper, principal of Encinal High School: ”What they’re doing is taking away the two other parcel taxes, which are about $300 total and adding to that another $300. And so really, is an extra $300 a year too much to ask to have outstanding schools?"[14]


Video produced by "No on Measure E" campaign
  • A committee to fight the Measure E tax was formed in April. The group was called the "Committee Against Measure E. "Alameda business owner Ed Hirschberg was a leader in the group.[15]


Other opponents included:

  • Resident William Mabrey, who said, "Schools needing money is an issue that seems to come up just about every year. I understand it's tied into the state budget and the bad economy. But I simply don't have the money. I wish I did. But I don't have any more left to give."[6]
  • Ed Hirshberg, who said, "It's not a uniform tax. That's our main objection."[6]
  • Alameda resident David Howard. In an opinion column published in the Oakland Tribune, Howard wrote about the achievement gap in AUSD, saying that in the district, dropout rates are higher and test scores are lower for African-American and Hispanic children. He believed that passing Measure E would do nothing to address the achievement gap, writing, "Through 2009, Alameda Unified School District paid political consultants Erwin & Muir at a rate of $150/hour per partner to help craft the Master Plan which presents two options — a new parcel tax, or a "doomsday" scenario.Erwin & Muir was paid to help pass Measure H in 2008. Because of this inherent conflict of interest, I don't believe the two options in the Master Plan are our only options. It seems that it will take the defeat of Measure E to force the district to present honest options for dealing with the financial shortfall, and tackle the achievement gap."[16]


Arguments made by the "No on E" committee were that Measure E:

  • Will double residential school taxes from $309 to $659/year.
  • Is an unfair tax because it taxes property owners at different rates.
  • Will spark another lawsuit. The lawsuit over Measure H has already cost AUSD over $200,000
  • Allows AUSD to use the funds for virtually any purpose, not just for student programs.
  • Does not promise to "maintain neighborhood schools..."
  • Does not guarantee accountability for how the money is spent.
  • Does not commit funds to close the achievement gap.
  • Was crafted by consultants that AUSD paid $150/hour per partner.[17]

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

MEASURE E: To maintain high quality Alameda public schools by protecting strong core academic programs that promote science, math, and language arts, attracting and retaining excellent teachers, and supporting art, music and small class size, shall Alameda Unified School District replace two existing parcel taxes with one annual parcel tax for 8 years in the amounts described in the voter pamphlet, with an exemption for seniors, no funds for administrators’ salaries, and every dollar staying in Alameda schools?”[17]

School district's budget

Chief Financial Officer Robert Shemwell said that if the parcel tax fails in June, the district will need to make $7 million in cuts in 2010-2011; $9.8 million in cuts in 2011-2012; and $17 million in cuts in 2012-2013. The district's budget is about $90 million.[18]

The district had also said that cuts are inevitable, even if the new tax is imposed. Under the "best-case scenario," where the measure passed, cuts of $2 million would have still been required.[6]

Measure H lawsuit

On June 3, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Mark Burr ruled in favor of Alameda Unified School District in a lawsuit that had been brought against the district challenging Measure H, the parcel tax that voters narrowly approved on June 3, 2008.[19]

The plaintiffs in the Measure H lawsuit alleged that Measure H violates state law because it is not "uniform taxation across different commercial property owners in keeping with the legislative interpretations of California Government Code section 50079."[20] To support this assertion, plaintiffs argued that under Measure H, a commercial property owner in Alameda "with 100,000-square-foot parcel would pay only $9,500, or $0.11 per square foot; while a commercial property owner with a 1,900 square foot parcel would pay the minimum $120 per year, or $0.16 per square foot."[20]

"Alamedans for Fair Taxation" indicated that they are likely to appeal Judge Burr's June 3 decision.[21]

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. San Francisco Chronicle, "A heartbreaker in Alameda," June 23, 2010
  2. San Francisco Chronicle, "AUSD Board Approves Slashed Budget, 2nd Parcel Tax," June 29, 2010
  3. The Island of Alameda, "Replacement parcel tax headed to June ballot," March 16, 2010
  4. The Island of Alameda, "Decision 2010: The tax, man," March 26, 2010
  5. 5.0 5.1 Contra Costa Times, "Alameda City Council urges Measure E passage," May 6, 2010
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Inside Bay Area, "New parcel tax set to go before voters," April 8, 2010
  7. Alameda Sun, "Measure E Ballots Arrive Next Tuesday," May 21, 2010
  8. Frank for Mayor, "School parcel tax measure deserves our support," March 19, 2010 (timed out)
  9. Daysog's Blog, "S.O.S.: Save Our Schools (Part II)," March 20, 2010
  10. 10.0 10.1 Inside Bay Area, "Alameda students protest budget cuts by showing how much they want to learn," April 8, 2010
  11. San Francisco Chronicle's Alameda Blog, "Board of Ed Approves Anti-Bullying List, Endorses Measure E," April 14, 2010
  12. Alameda Blog, "City Council, Firefighters Endorse AUSD Parcel Tax (Updated)," May 6, 2010
  13. San Francisco Chronicle, "Measure E: Who Really Cares About Alameda?," May 26, 2010
  14. KCBS, "Alameda voters face tough choice," May 25, 2010
  15. Alameda Sun, "Committee Forms to Fight Measure E," April 23, 2010
  16. Oakland Tribune, "My Word: Measure E not answer to closing `achievement gap'," April 15, 2010
  17. 17.0 17.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  18. San Francisco Chronicle, "Alameda Unified's Budget: Crazy Process, Scary Numbers (Part 2 of 2)," March 14, 2010
  19. San Francisco Chronicle, "Full text of AUSD press release on Measure H," June 3, 2010
  20. 20.0 20.1 Alameda Sun, "AUSD Parcel Tax Heading to Court," April 8, 2010
  21. San Francisco Chronicle, "AUSD wins Measure H lawsuit," June 3, 2010

Additional reading