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San Mateo County, CA November 6, 2001 Election
Measure B
Approval of 10% Transient Occupancy Tax
County of San Mateo

Tax Ordinance - Majority Vote Required

43,007 / 56.5% Yes votes ...... 33,160 / 43.5% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Yes/No Meaning | Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text

Shall Ordinance No. 3268, adopted by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on October 2, 1990, which increased from 8% to 10% the transient occupancy tax charged to persons for the privilege of occupancy in any hotel, or similar structure occupied or intended or designed for occupancy by transients, in the unincorporated area of San Mateo County, be continued in full force and effect?

Meaning of Voting Yes/No
A YES vote of this measure means:
A majority of "yes" votes on Measure B means that the 10% tax rate for the transient occupancy tax will continue.

A NO vote of this measure means:
A majority of "no" votes on Measure B means that the 10% tax rate for the transient occupancy tax would not continue and the transient occupancy tax rate would be reduced to 8%.

Impartial Analysis
The California Constitution and the Government Code authorize the County, upon a majority vote, to levy a general tax. The Revenue and Taxation Code authorizes the County to levy a tax on hotels, inns, tourist homes, motels, or other lodging for the privilege of occupying a room or rooms.

In 1978, a transient occupancy tax of 8% was established by the Board of Supervisors. In 1990, the Board of Supervisors increased the tax to 10%. In order to ensure that the 10% transient tax rate is in compliance with state law, the Board of Supervisors submits this measure to the electorate.

This measure would authorize the continuation of the 10% tax rate for the transient occupancy tax that was adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 1990. If the measure does not pass the transient occupancy tax rate would be reduced to 8%.

A "yes" vote on this measure would allow the continuance of the 10% tax rate for the transient occupancy tax.

A "no" vote on this measure would not allow the continuance of the 10% tax rate for the transient occupancy tax and would reduce the transient occupancy tax rate to 8%.

This measure passes if a majority voting on the measure vote "yes."

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Arguments For Measure B Arguments Against Measure B
Voter approval is being requested at this time because of recent court rulings which held that voter approval is necessary for all local taxes. It will only be collected from those hotel and motel guests staying in rooms located in the unincorporated area of the County. Passage of this measure will allow the Board of Supervisors to continue to fund important public services such as sheriff's law enforcement, health and welfare programs of county residents, and activities promoting the County's economic and cultural priorities. A "Yes" vote maintains the current approach of having County visitors pay a very minimal amount towards the cost of local public services which both residents and visitors enjoy. This measure would allow for a continuation of a two percent increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) which was first authorized by the Board of Supervisors in 1990. The TOT is commonly imposed throughout the county on hotel and motel guests and is designed to cover costs for local services which visitors to the County receive while they are staying in the County. This tax raises a relatively modest amount of revenue per year which goes into the County General Fund. The tax is currently set at ten percent of the cost per night of the hotel or motel room which the visitor occupies. This measure would not increase the tax but would merely authorize its continuation.

/s/ Mike Nevin
President, San Mateo County Board of Supervisors

/s/ Jerry Hill
Vice President, San Mateo Co. Board of Supervisors

/s/ Paul Scannell

/s/ Richard Gordon
Board of Supervisors, San Mateo County

/s/ James P. Fox
District Attorney, County of San Mateo

Rebuttal to Arguments For
Freeloaders: Visitors bring over $2 billion to San Mateo County annually, employing over 40,000 residents. For the taxers (esp. in Burlingame) to characterize visitors as freeloaders is insulting, ungrateful, and dishonest. In addition to their hotel rents and purchases, visitors pay over $50 million in local taxes (fuel, sales, other).

Unnecessary Revenue: Will the sky fall if voters don't approve this tax increase? Of course not! San Mateo County got by just fine with an 8% TOT (before 1990).

Comparisons: Portland's hotel tax is 6%. Oregon's average is 7.3%. Hawaii's is 7.25%. Washington's standard hotel tax is only 2% (though special taxes push the average to 5%). California's average TOT was also below 10% until 1992, when cities and counties began a decade of tax hikes.

Lawbreakers: The Supreme Court found 1986's Prop 62 to be constitutional in 1995 (Santa Clara County v. Guardino), affirming that such taxes, raised without voter approval, are indeed illegal. Burlingame and San Mateo County nevertheless thumbed their noses at the voters and the Court and continued to collect the 2% overcharge. They are bowing to the law only now because a new Supreme Court decision (HJTA v. La Habra) has clarified eligibility to sue for continuing to overcharge taxpayers. The illegality of the tax itself was established 6 years ago.

Don't reward these scofflaws with your approval. Vote 'NO'.

/s/ Rose A Urbach
San Bruno Resident

/s/ Margret Buckley Schmidt
UI Design Manager

/s/ Morris Fiorina
Professor, Stanford Univ.

/s/ John J. Hickey
Chair, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

/s/ Christopher VA Schmidt
Retired Computer Professional

A Moral Question: Is it OK to steal from your neighbor's houseguests if you can get away with it?

The County of San Mateo thinks so - at least when guests stay in local hotels. Like an embezzler, the county pads hotel bills with a 10% transient occupancy tax ('TOT') which is no more just nor honest than a Mafia protection racket.

And taxing a hotel guest who can't vote against him is the perfect crime, from a politician's point-of-view.

A Legal Question: If the voters passed an initiative (Prop 62 in 1986) which required voter approval of such taxes, was it OK to ignore the law and raise the TOT without a vote?

The County of San Mateo thought so, and stalled for 11 years before putting this tax on the ballot.

Don't encourage this kind of opportunistic pickpocketing. Vote 'NO' and help put a politician on the straight and narrow path.

/s/ Dieter Steinbeck
Bus. Owner

/s/ Raymond M. Bell Jr.
Candidate for SUHSD Board

/s/ John J. Hickey
Chair, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

/s/ Margret Buckley Schmidt
UI Design Manager

/s/ William Henderson
Business Owner

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
The argument against Measure B makes no sense. The Transiency Occupancy Tax (TOT) is a standard charge that we all pay when we travel. Whether you go to Los Angeles, Chicago or New York City, you will pay a TOT on your hotel bill. There is no sound reason why visitors to the County should not continue to pay some small amount for all of the local County services which they have available when they visit here. On a one hundred dollar per night hotel bill, this TOT increase will only cost the out-of-town visitor two dollars per night.

The argument against Measure B suggests that this TOT increase is some political scheme. That is simply absurd. Because of a new decision of the California Supreme Court, cities and counties in the State will be asking voters to approve similar measures in each local community. This measure simply levels the playing field by requiring out-of-town visitors to pay the same kind of taxes on their hotel room bill as we all pay on our bills when we travel out of the County. This measure is not a new increase; it is a continuation of an existing charge. It is fair, evenhanded, and supports vital County services which we all receive. Please vote YES on Measure B.

/s/ T Jack Foster, Jr.
partner, Foster Enterprises

/s/ Deberah Bringelson
President & CEO

/s/ Don Horsley

/s/ Mark Church
County Supervisor

/s/ Rose Jacobs Gibson
County Supervisor

Full Text of Measure B
Section 6. The complete text of the San Mateo County Ordinance Code provision proposed to be extended is as follows:

"Section 5.136.020. Tax Imposed. For the privilege of occupancy in any hotel, effective October 2, 1990, each transient is subject to and shall pay a tax in the amount of ten percent (10%) of the rent charged by the operator. Said tax constitutes a debt owed by the transient to the county which is extinguished only by payment to the operator or to the County. The transient shall pay the tax to the operator of the hotel at the time the rent is paid. If the rent is paid in installments, a proportionate share of the tax shall be due upon the transient's ceasing to occupy space in the hotel."

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Created: December 3, 2001 02:34
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