City of Oakland Transfer Tax Clarification, Measure H (July 2009)

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A City of Oakland Transfer Tax Clarification, Measure H ballot question was on the July 21, 2009 ballot for voters in the City of Oakland in Alameda County, where it was approved.[1]

Measure H imposed a tax on property transfers that come about through corporate mergers and acquisitions. The transfer tax rate is 1.5% of the amount of the real estate purchase/transfer price.[2]

Measure H was part of a package of four ballot measures on the July 21 ballot in Oakland; supporters of the measures hoped to raise an additional $7-$8 million in tax revenue for the city because it was experiencing significant budget stress.

The election was conducted using only mail-in ballots. The Alameda County Registrar of Voters office mailed out 205,000 ballots to registered voters in Oakland the week of June 22.[3] Ballots had to be returned by July 21, 2009.[4]

The cost of holding the election on Measure H, and the three other measures Oakland residents were asked to consider, was $1.5 million.[3]

Election results

Measure H
Approveda Yes 37,192 74.82%
These final, certified, election results are from the Alameda County election office.


Logo of the group that supported all four measures on the July 21 City of Oakland ballot

The arguments for Measure H in the official ballot guide were signed by Wade W. Sherwood (Oakland Commission On Aging), Douglas Wong (Retired Fire Fighter), Susan Montauk (Parks & Recreation Commissioner), Ronile Lahti (Library Advocate), and Kenneth L. Katz (Splash Pad Neighborhood Forum). They argued:

  • Measure H does not raise taxes.
  • It closes a loophole to ensure that companies are treated the same as homeowners.
  • Measure H does not create a new tax and will not increase any tax rate.
  • This change will help the City balance its budget.

Peter Schrag, a columnist for California Progress Report said that "given the straitjacket Californians have imposed on their governments with Proposition 13 and its progeny, Measure H represents an intriguing glimmer of hope."[5]

Sharon Cornu, executive secretary-treasurer of the Central Labor Council of Alameda, urged a "yes" vote on Measure H, saying, "The question for you to ask is: 'What's fair?'"[2]


Arguments against Measure H in the official ballot guide were penned by Patricia Scates of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. She argued:

  • Measure H could stop businesses from wanting to come to Oakland.
  • This measure doesn’t provide a predictable source of income for the City’s budget.
  • This isn’t a business-friendly tax.

Scott Peterson, public policy director of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, said he was voting "no" on Measure H because:

  • "Anything we can do to make Oakland more attractive to business is important. Whether that's growing our own local enterprises or attracting new companies to relocate here, every little bit helps."[2]

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:

Measure H: "Shall City of Oakland’s Real Property Transfer Tax be amended to clarify that the tax applies to transfers of real property caused by changes in the ownership or control of corporations and other legal entities, such as mergers and acquisitions?"[6]

See also

Approveda Measure C: City of Oakland Hotel Tax
Approveda Measure D: City of Oakland Kids First! Funding
Approveda Measure F: City of Oakland Marijuana Tax

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