City of Oakland Hotel Tax, Measure C (July 2009)

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A City of Oakland hotel tax, Measure C 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 C raised the hotel tax in Oakland from 11% to 14%.

With the enactment of Measure C, customers who chose to stay in lodging located in Oakland had to pay an additional $3 of tax on a $100-a-night hotel bill.[2]

The city estimated that Measure C would raise $2.7 million in added revenues to the city. 50% of that estimated $2.7 million goes to the Oakland Convention and Visitors Bureau to fund campaigns to try to draw more visitors to Oakland.[2]

In order to pass, Measure C required a 2/3rds vote.

Measure C was part of a package of four ballot measures on the July 21 ballot in Oakland intended to raise an additional $7-$8 million in tax revenue for the city.

Election results

Measure C
Approveda Yes 38,907 76.79%
These final, certified, election results are from the Alameda County election office.

Ballot question

Documentary about the Chabot Space and Science Center

The question on the ballot:

Measure C: "To provide additional funding to the Oakland Zoo, the Oakland Museum of California, the Chabot Space and Science Center, cultural arts programs and festivals and the Oakland Convention and Visitor Bureau, shall the City of Oakland add a three percent (3%) surcharge to the current eleven percent (11%) Transient Occupancy Tax (Hotel Tax) that persons who stay in Oakland hotels pay?"[3]

Mail-in ballot/cost of election

The election was conducted as a mail-in ballot only election. The Alameda County Registrar of Voters office mailed out 205,000 ballots to registered voters in Oakland the week of June 22.[4] Ballots had to be returned by July 21, 2009.[5]

The cost of holding the election on Measure C, and the three other measures Oakland residents were asked to consider, was $1.5 million.[4]


Measure C was placed on the ballot by Oakland's city council. Councilmember Jean Quan (Montclair-Laurel) co-sponsored it. Quan tried unsuccessfully to get a hotel tax imposed in 2006.[2]


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

Prior to the vote on Measure C, the City of Oakland had a hotel tax of 11%. This was expected to bring in $12.7 million in revenue in Fiscal Year 2008-2009. However, as of the October 2008 mid-cycle budget estimates, city officials had come to believe that total revenues from the 11% tax would decline by about $2.6 million in Fiscal Year 2009-2010.

Ron Dellums, then-Mayor of Oakland, and others who supported the hotel tax increase, believed that increasing the hotel tax would not deter people from staying in Oakland hotels, whereas those who opposed the tax said that travellers will choose hotels in nearby cities that have lower hotel taxes and that, therefore, the total income raised by the hotel tax will not go up if the tax is increased because fewer people will stay in Oakland.[6][7]

Measure C was on the July 21 ballot along with three other measures that city politicians hoped would raise additional tax revenues for the city, whose budget faced a growing deficit as its economically-struggling residents sent in lower taxes than the city had previously estimated would come its way in 2009.

In advance of the July 21 vote, Oakland mayor Ron Dellums agreed to:

  • A 10% pay cut on his $183,000 annual salary.
  • The elimination of discretionary accounts held by the city council and mayor known as "pay-go" accounts.
  • To cut his own staff by 20%.[8]

Other measures on July 21 ballot

Approveda Measure D: City of Oakland Kids First! Funding
Approveda Measure F: City of Oakland Marijuana Tax
Approveda Measure H: City of Oakland Transfer Tax Clarification

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