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City of Oakland parcel tax, Measure X (November 2010)

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A City of Oakland parcel tax, Measure X ballot proposition was on the November 2, 2010 ballot for voters in the City of Oakland in Alameda County, where it was decisively defeated.[1]

The tax would have been $360/parcel per year, lasting for four years. Money from the tax would have gone to police and fire salaries. Landlords would have been allowed to pass half of the tax bill on to renters.

The vote on the Oakland City Council to put the tax on the ballot was 5-3. Voting in favor were Nancy Nadel, Jane Brunner, Jean Quan, Pat Kernighan and Larry Reid. Voting against were Councilmembers Kaplan, Brooks, and De La Fuente.[2]

The city council agreed not to lay off any police officers for three years, if voters approve the tax.[3]

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

Election results

Measure X
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No75,06872.28%
Yes 28,788 27.72%
These final, certified results are from the Alameda County elections office.

Overall tax burden

According to Chip Johnson, a columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle, ."..if voters approve every tax measure sought by the city and the Oakland Unified School District this November, the average Oakland resident would have to pay an extra $627 a year. That would nearly double the local tax bill to about $1,400 a year."[4]

Other tax measures on the Oakland ballot were Measure BB, Measure L, Measure V and Measure W. Oakland voters will also be impacted by Measure F.[5]

Support

Mayor Ron Dellums urged voters to approve the measure, saying that if they don't, "Residents could wake up a year from now with only 500 officers."[6]

Opposition

Chip Johnson, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, commented on the parcel tax and other tax measures facing Oakland residents on the November 2, 2010 ballot, saying:

"The sum total of new tax measures to be presented to Oakland voters this fall is enough to make a teabagger jump into the estuary.
"If voters approve every tax measure sought by the city and the Oakland Unified School District this November, the average Oakland resident would have to pay an extra $627 a year."
"That would nearly double the local tax bill to about $1,400 a year - and that's on top of the sales tax and state and federal taxes."
"It's just too big a pill to swallow, especially for residents already suffering from a depressed housing market and an unemployment rate nearly double the nation's."
"These tax proposals are the result of our city's top policymakers bailing on their duty to solve the city's problems - problems they helped to create."[7]

Don Perata wrote an argument for the official voter pamphlet, opposing Measure X. In his argument, he wrote, ""This measure is about one thing, asking you to bail out the Council for their failed leadership. Tragically, the burden of this hastily thought-out plan falls on those in our community least able to afford it. Join me in voting No."[8]

At a mayoral candidate forum on September 23, mayoral candidate and current city councilwoman Jean Quan said that she does not support Measure X. Quan was one of the five city council members who voted to put Measure X on the ballot. Mayoral candidates at the forum were asked to say "yes," "no" or "undecided" to the question of supporting Measure X and Quan said "no." Afterward, a reporter pressed Quan and Quan said, "I'm not supporting it" but also "I'll probably personally vote for it" but that she would not encourage Oakland residents to vote for it.[9]

The editorial board of the Oakland Tribune recommended a "no" vote on Measure X, saying, "Oakland's high unemployment rate is well above the national average. Thousands have lost their homes. Many are struggling to pay for the basics. This is the reality for many Oaklanders. It is one reason why we strongly reject the city-sponsored ballot measures X and W. They would place an even greater burden on residents who are already struggling. The other reason we urge you to vote no is that the ballot measures are bad policy. They are hastily drawn, poorly crafted proposals designed by a city leadership that lacks the courage to address Oakland's long-term structural financial problems in a meaningful fashion."[10]

Police staffing levels

80 police officers were laid off on July 13, bringing the level of police officers in the city to 694. If voters passed the parcel tax and also voted to Revise Measure Y, the staffing level on the police force could go to 803.

Pension problems

Daniel Borenstein, a columnist for the Oakland Tribune, wrote, "[T]he story of the Oakland Police and Fire Retirement System provides a stunning example of the long-term consequences when city officials offer pensions and fail to set aside adequate funds to pay for them."[11]

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

To support, protect and enhance vital public safety and violence prevention services including violence reduction programs, shall the City of Oakland levy a $360 per single family residential unit parcel tax for 4 ½ years which is subject to annual reviews of all funds, and rigorous oversight by a citizens committee?

See also

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