County of Los Angeles Hotel Tax, Measure H (June 2012)
In January 1991, the Board of Supervisors of Los Angeles County raised the hotel (lodging) tax in the county from 10% to 12%. This increase was enacted without voter approval. Subsequent to that time, various lawsuits in California indicated that voter approval may be needed for certain taxes that were imposed after 1990. A lawsuit is active in Los Angeles County that challenges the January 1991 hotel tax increase to 12% on the same grounds that have led other courts in the state to invalidate tax increases that were enacted without voter approval.
That lawsuit means that the 12% hotel tax that has been charged in the county for about 22 years may be judicially invalidated. With that prospect in sight, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors decided to put Measure H on the ballot. The approval of Measure H means that the 12% tax will have been approved by voters. The expectation is that this will mean that the 12% tax will stay in effect even if a court invalidates the January 1991 enactment of the increase.
The additional 2% hotel tax in question applies to lodging in the county's unincorporated areas. It brings in about $2.1 million a year in revenue to the county.
If Measure H had been rejected, the county's lodging tax would have been reduced to 10%.
The official voter guide arguments in favor of Measure H were signed by:
- Zev Yaroslavsky, Chairman, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
- William T. Fujioka, CEO, Los Angeles County
- Daryl L. Osby, Los Angeles County Fire Chief
- Margaret Donnellan Todd, Los Angeles County Librarian
The editorial board of Eastern Group Publications endorsed a "yes" vote on Measure H, saying, "The tax is not new and does not constitute a burden on local residents or businesses. It is a valuable revenue stream that should be preserved."
Arguments in favor
The official voter guide arguments in favor of Measure H included:
- "The current Los Angeles County hotel tax was originally adopted in 1991. Measure H is necessitated by a change in State law that requires County voters to ratify this tax in order to maintain it at its current rate. MEASURE H will not increase the current tax, nor will it impose a new one. It simply keeps it at its current rate."
- "This hotel tax is charged to tourists, out of town businesspeople and other visitors who stay in hotels located in unincorporated areas of the County. Revenue from this tax supports countywide services such as parks, libraries, senior and emergency services."
- "This tax is not paid by County residents---only by out of town visitors. If Measure H is not approved the tax rate will be reduced, and the County will have to cut vital services which we enjoy and on which we depend."
- "Many cities in Los Angeles County assess a similar tax on hotel rooms. The City of Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Inglewood charge 14%; Pasadena charges 12.11%; and cities as diverse as Long Beach, Hawthorne, Monterey Park and Commerce each charge 12%---the same as Measure H."
- "Measure H is not a new tax; it maintains an existing tax at the existing rate. It ensures that County residents will continue to enjoy high-quality park, library, senior and emergency services at no cost to local taxpayers."
No arguments against Measure H were submitted for the official voter guide.
The question on the ballot:
|MEASURE H: "Shall the existing unincorporated county hotel room tax be readopted to ratify, continue, and update the existing ordinance at the current rate of 12 percent to fund essential County general fund services, such as parks, libraries, senior services, and law enforcement; to continue exempting hotel stays longer than 30 days, to add exemptions for emergency shelter referrals, and for individuals on official government business pursuant to federal law?"|
- EGP News, "EGP Ballot Recommendations – Tuesday, June 5 2012 Election," May 17, 2012
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.