On June 4th, Los Angeles voters will be able to cast their ballots on a proposed property tax for LA schools. If approved by two-thirds of voters, Measure EE would institute a new parcel tax on residential and commercial property throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District. The new tax would raise an estimated $500 million a year (or about $750 a student) over 12 years to help fund district and charter schools within the boundaries of the LAUSD. The measure is supported by Mayor Eric Garcetti, but is not without its opposition. In anticipation of the June 4th election, we’ve unpacked some of the key provisions outlined in Measure EE, and what they could mean for homeowners & housing costs in the Los Angeles market.
Approval of Measure EE would authorize a special tax of $0.16 per square foot in residential and commercial buildings (the taxable square footage listed on your property tax bills) located on taxable parcels within LAUSD boundaries. The
tax does not apply to land. At this rate, the cost to the owner of a 1,000-square foot house would be $160 per year. The tax would be levied annually beginning in the 2019/2020 fiscal year, and continue for 12 years.
According to the Los Angeles County Counsel, proceeds from the tax would be used for: lowering class sizes; providing school nursing, library, and counseling services and other health and human services for student support; providing instructional programs, school resources, and materials; retaining and attracting teachers and school employees; and providing necessary administrative services. No proceeds from this tax can be used for purchasing school lots, building or modernizing schools, funding legal settlements and liabilities, and operating schools outside the boundaries of the District.
Funds generated by the Measure for allocation to Local Charter Schools would be based on the schools’ in district average daily attendance. The Board shall establish rules, procedures, time requirements, and standards for allocation and distribution of funding, including, but not limited to, an appeal process for the Local Charter Schools.
Any property otherwise exempt from property taxes in a tax year would also be exempt from this tax in the same year. Additionally, any owner of a parcel who occupies the parcel as a principal residence who is 65 years or over, receives supplemental security income for a disability (at any age), or receives social security disability insurance benefits, and whose annual income does not exceed 250 percent of the 2012 federal poverty guidelines, may apply for tax exemption.
Opponents of Measure EE have criticized the bill as lacking any guarantee of funds reaching the classrooms as promised, and worry that the funds may be used to temporarily fix a budget deficit. The Daily News has noted that “Parcel taxes tend to take a greater percentage of income from lower-income taxpayers,” adding that the new tax would add hundreds of dollars annually to homeowners’ tax bills and thousands to the annual expenses of supermarkets, retail stores, office buildings, warehouses and commercial facilities. Some opponents worry that these annual increases will encourage rent hikes and higher living costs in lower income neighborhoods, while supporters point to rent stabilization ordinances as being already in place to prevent this. Be sure to get out and cast your vote on June 4th! Visit LAVote.net to find your polling place.
Update on State Measure SB 50
SB 50 would eliminate some local zoning restrictions and allow for denser housing construction along transit corridors and in single-family neighborhoods. California’s Senate Appropriations Committee decided recently that SB50 would not come up for a vote until January of 2020. I’ll provide an update closer to the date.