In Latest Count, Residents In Six County Cities Embrace Increasing Local Tax

Six of seven municipal measures on the November 3 ballot that grew out of those cities’ or town’s elected leadership asking their residents to consent to taxing themselves to shore up those respective governments’ financial positions have passed. Two other municipal initiatives in San Bernardino County that did not consist of taxing or tax-raising proposals were on the ballot. One of those was approved and one has been rejected by voters.
In Montclair, Measure L, which calls for levying upon all purchasers of taxable goods in that city an additional one percent sales tax to raise the current 8 percent sales tax to 9 percent, as of 4 p.m. today was headed toward passage, with 7,955 votes or 68.66 percent in favor of it and 3,631 or 31.34 percent opposed.
The City of Chino Hills’ Measure M, which proposed to expand the definition of “hotel” for purposes of the city’s transient occupancy tax, known as the hotel or bed tax, and to increase the current transient occupancy tax rate from 10 percent to 12 percent, effective January 1, 2021 was endorsed by 23,072 or 65.05 percent of the city’s voters and rejected by 12,396 or 34.95 percent. In addition to being applicable to hotels, motels and inns, the transient occupancy tax as of January 1 will be levied on those staying in tourist homes or houses, studio hotels, bachelor hotels, lodging houses, rooming houses, apartment houses, dormitories, public or private clubs, mobile homes or house trailers at a fixed location, campgrounds or other similar structures or facilities, or portions thereof, wherein overnight accommodations are offered for hire.
In Apple Valley, Measure O, which related to the imposition of a one percent sales tax that town officials predicted would generate approximately $7 million annually off sales within the town limits, was soundly defeated, with 20,735 voters or 66.28 percent turning thumbs down on the initiative, and 10,547 or 33.72 percent supporting it.
In Victorville, it was nip and tuck as to whether Measure P, which would raise the sales tax in the city another one percent, from the current 7.75 percent to 8.75 percent, would pass. With more than 36,000 voters participating in the referendum, the call for increasing the tax was ahead by a mere seven votes, with 18,250 yes votes or 50.01 percent to 18,233 no votes or 49.99 percent.
In Adelanto, voters were lopsidedly in favor of Measure R, which calls for levying fees on undeveloped property beyond what is already collected from the owners of that land in property tax.
The measure calls for setting a tax of $200 per acre within the city’s airport development district and its airport park; $600 per acre in the city’s business park area; $600 per acre on commercial property; $50 per acre on property zoned for desert living, i.e., residential use; $600 per acre for land zoned for light manufacturing; $600 per acre for land zoned for manufacturing/industrial use; $500 per acre for land zoned for mixed use; $50 per acre for land zoned as open space; no charge for land designated for public utility use; $300 per acre for land designated for development as single family residential homes; $400 per acre for land zoned for medium density residential development; $300 per acre for land designated for high density residential use; and $200 per acre for properties without any fixed zoning. Measure R had the backing of 5,244 or 65.67 percent of the city’s voters, while 2,741 or 34.33 percent were against it.
In the county seat, the City of San Bernardino, which declared bankruptcy in 2012 and did not exit from that status until 2017, has seen the more than $30 million in reserves it accumulated while it was functioning under the protection of the federal bankruptcy court steadily dwindle over the last three years until it is now on the brink of insolvency once again. In 2007, San Bernardino’s voters approved Measure Z, levying a 0.25 percent sales tax throughout the city earmarked exclusively for public safety. With Measure Z scheduled to sunset in 2022, the city council put Measure S on the ballot this year, calling for the extension of the 0.25 cents per dollar Measure Z tax, presumably for another 15 years, as well as the imposition of another 0.75 percent tax on top of that, providing the city with a one percent sales tax that would go into effect as of April 2021. The total sales tax in San Bernardino would then become 8.75 percent per year. The additional 0.75 percent sales tax would translate into $27 million in additional revenue to the city per year, according to projections.
San Bernardino’s voters on November 3 approved Measure S, with 31,881 votes cast or 56.54 percent in favor of the measure and 24,508 or 43.46 percent in opposition.
In Redlands, voters were asked to consider Measure T, which pertained to the enactment of a one percent transactions and use tax – in common parlance referred to as a sales tax – to the cost paid for goods and services in the city, with an “exemption from this tax with respect to certain sales, storage, use or other consumption of tangible personal property.” Measure T lays out no such exemption for prescription drugs or food, which are both exempt under California’s tax code.
Measure T had, as of today, 19,685 votes or 57.02 percent in favor of it and 14,838 opposed.
There were two non-tax measures pertaining to San Bernardino County cities on this year’s ballot. In Hesperia, Measure N called for changing the zoning on larger parcels of vacant land currently zoned for residential use at densities of up to 8 units per acre, which allows subdivisions into lot sizes which average 4,500 square feet, to a new zoning designation of 14,520 square feet for each single family residential lot, reducing the number of homes per acre to no more than three. The measure leaves untouched the current zoning in some areas of the city where lot sizes of no less than one-half acre are required. Measure N also reduces the number of apartments and multifamily dwellings from 25 to eight units per acre.
Measure N was given a mandate by Hesperia’a voters, with 22,310 votes or 71.59 percent in its favor and 8,855 or 29.41 percent against it.
Measure Q in Upland asked Upland’s voters whether they would approve the sale of 4.631 acres of Memorial Park, which lies adjacent to San Antonio Hospital, to the hospital for $4.3 million. While the first returns on election night with 38 of the city’s 48 precincts reporting showed a narrow vote in favor of Measure Q’s passage, 50.83 percent to 49.17 percent, the majority has reversed until today Measure Q appears to be going down to defeat with 18,427 votes or 51.98 percent against it and 17,022 or 48.02 percent in support of it.
-Mark Gutglueck

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