“Alamedans for Fair Taxation” say they’ll fight Measure H

Today I was forwarded an email sent around by a group calling themselves “Alamedans for Fair Taxation.” Apparently, they’re working to fight Measure H, the school parcel tax passed in June, which will tax residential parcels $120 a year and commercial properties on a square footage basis. According to the email, they are looking for an attorney to take their case:

We have a strong belief that we have a case against AUSD, in regards to Measure H in the context of not being “uniformly” as defined in California Government Code Section 50079 – B or “Out of Town Owner” representation. At this point we are looking for, and interviewing attorneys.

It sounds like the group is also concerned about a legislative move at the state level to change the threshold a parcel tax needs to pass from the near-impossible two-thirds to the sure-to-pass-possibly-a-higher-tax level of 55 percent.

We will be looking into the bill pending in the Legislature to amend the constitution to reduce the required vote on the school parcel taxes to 55%, this would greatly increase their chances for future parcel taxes.

The group has South Shore address and a dedicated phone number, at which I just left a message. I will hopefully hear from a representative of the group soon and will be able to report more about them. Who is behind this effort? How are they funded? How do they think schools should be funded? Do they think property taxes should be based on the current market value of a property or on the sale price, however long ago it was? These are all things I’m wondering now.


  • Ilya Pinsky

    To be honest I have no clue as to how Measure H fails to be”uniformly”. Any one mind giving me the run down?

  • James Knowles

    Parcel taxes are draconian regressive taxation methods. Alameda seems to have mastered selling this as the best way to may up for problems and deficiencies by organizations schools, hospitals, to name two. Progressive taxes based on property value – however uniformly you define that here or even square footage are more fair. Taxation without representation (also read accountability) was one of the founding cries for our country. How will this parcel tax monies collected be spent? and how will I know that it was spent to save music and HS athletics?

  • Susan Davis

    News of this lawsuit has been circulating around the district for more than a month and I’m as boggled now as when I first heard about it.

    The idea of suing a district for a parcel tax that passed by more than two-thirds of the vote defies logic. E.g., if business people didn’t like the ballot measure last spring, why didn’t they organize themselves and publicize their issues before the election? That’s a lot more fair and open than suing the district after the fact. And if they’re not happy about having to pay their share of the parcel tax, why are they willing to pay much more in legal fees to get the tax canceled?

    Moreover, at a time when shopping locally is becoming downright trendy (gas prices are rising, after all, as are concerns about global warming), small businesses involved in this lawsuit risk alienating their customers in a big way. They’ll alienate their customers even more if they actually win their case, as the combination of no parcel tax, mega legal fees, and state budget cuts will bring this district to its knees.

    Not a great way to get in good with the locals.

    It’s a shame the buzz in the district this week is this distasteful lawsuit – and not the excitement of a new school year.

  • http://robsiltanen.com/ Rob Siltanen

    I agree completely with Susan.

    For anyone interested, I’ve posted some thoughts about this under “Just Say No, Alamedans for Fair Taxation” over at http://robsiltanen.com/

  • Gordon Foreman

    I’ll hazard a guess that the parties bitching loudest about this rather small tax are also receiving significant Prop 13 benefits & pay far less on their high value commercial properties than many of their best customers pay on their lower value homes. This is Exhibit A of penny wise/pound foolish: customers are team mates. When customers benefit, so do the firms they patronize. Getting knickers knotted over a grand or three (or even nine) per year while alienating the golden goose is just plain dumb.

  • Michael Chae

    Agreed. Where was this opposition to Measure H before the election? Perhaps it was assumed that it would not pass.

    Since it did pass, it seems that it would be more productive for all to move forward from here since the overwhelming majority of voters approved it.

    Also, in the age of social responsibility, does it make sense for local businesses to fight something that helps to preserve what makes this city and community great?

    I make a point to shop locally and I hope that those I patronize will support locally in return.

  • Jeff R. Thomason

    Where can I donate to their cause?

  • Whitney

    I also agree. This is really outrageous and just plain dumb. I wonder where the chamber of commerce and the business associations come out on this?

    Maybe we should all start asking the businesses we shop at whether or not they are supporting this and ask them to oppose this horrible lawsuit. Maybe signs in windows to let shoppers know?

  • Esther Saidman

    I agree with Susan. There was plenty of time to oppose the Measure during the election. The vast majority of voters supported the tax, and the response from “Alamedans for Fair Taxes” has nothing to do with fairness at all.

    As citizens of Alameda, we have the opportunity to “vote” with our pocketbook. In our household, we choose to support our local businesses whenever possible because we believe in supporting small business. I suspect many on the island feel similarly. It is foolhardy for businesses to oppose this tax because ultimately their reputations and their revenues will suffer. Strong schools translate into better real estate values and a stronger local economy which ultimately helps local businesses thrive. Businesses that support our schools will definitely get my business!

  • http://www.schweich.com Tom Schweich

    I don’t have a child in Alameda schools, but I voted for Measure H. I support Whitney’s suggestion that the Chamber of Commerce and the business associations should be asked where they stand on the issue of suing the school district. Businesses on Park Street and Webster Street should put signs in their windows stating whether they support Measure H. Going a little farther, a little American free speech in the form of informational picketing in front of businesses supporting the suit might be a good idea.

  • Les Cabral

    Measure H did not follow state law. This tax is to be uniform,another words every property owner pays the same amount. Ask yourself why did the school district go there,and why do they want to hurt business in Alameda

  • http://none Ken

    I opposed Measure H from the outset, but for a different reason…I KNOW that lack of money was never the problem, the problem is bad management of the money and simply throwing more money at poor managers never solves the problem. I really resent being called “anti education” because I was too smart for Measure’s H’s misleading campaign. You have my full support in reversing Measure H. One point though..it would have been a good idea to have pointed out that it was illegal before it passed…

  • Rob

    I think the people that were for Measure H didn’t realize that half of the kids that go to Alameda Schools come for outside of Alameda! For me not having any children, why am I having to pay for some kid coming from Oakland to play football after school. If they charged the parents for that we wouldn’t need this tax!

  • http://www.johnknoxwhite.com John Knox White

    Rob, I’m not sure where you got you info, but it’s not accurate.

    Since 1997, the district has had 400-535 students from outside of Alameda enrolled in it’s various schools out of a student body of about 10,000. that’s 4-5%. Most of whom attend here because their parents work in Alameda.

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