Taxes, taxes and more taxes

Who needs the Legislature to raise taxes? We’ll get plenty of chances on our own on Nov. 4 to boost our contributions to government operations.

I’ve compiled a list of all the ballot measures in the East Bay and of the 55 questions, a third proposed new or extended taxes. Voters will decide on $752 million in bonds, which are repaid through property taxes, and a series of parcel taxes. Eight of the measures are for schools, although the biggest bond,at $500 million, is for parks. Public safety is popular, too.

This figure doesn’t account for the $15.85 billion in bonds proposed in statewide ballot measures, including $9.95 billion for high-speed rail.

Read more for a full list of the measures on the state and Alameda and Contra Costa ballots.


Proposition. 1: Authorizes the state to sell $9.95 billion in bonds to partially fund a high-speed passenger train between Los Angeles and Northern California. Majority vote required.

Proposition 2: Prohibits the confinement on a farm of pregnant pigs, calves raised for veal and egg-laying hens in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs. Majority vote required.

Proposition 3: Authorizes the state to sell $980 million in bonds for construction projects at children’s hospitals, including the five University of California children’s hospitals. Majority vote required.

Proposition 4: Amends the California Constitution to require a physician to notify the parent or legal guardian of pregnant minor at least 48 hours prior to performing an abortion involving that minor. Majority vote required.

Proposition 5: Expands drug treatment diversion programs for criminal offenders, modified parole supervision procedures, allows inmates to earn time off their terms for participation in rehabilitation programs and reduces penalties for marijuana possession. Majority vote required.

Proposition 6: Creates new state-funded criminal justice programs and mandates that funding for certain existing programs be maintained at 2007-2008 levels. Total funding would increase by $365 million to $965 million starting in 2009. Majority vote required.

Proposition 7: Establishes and enforces increased use of renewable resources on electricity-generating companies. Majority vote required.

Proposition 8: Amends the California Constitution to specify that marriage is between a man and a woman. Majority vote required.

Proposition 9: Amends the California Constitution to expand the legal rights of victims of crime and mandate payment of restitution by offenders, restrict early release of inmates and change the procedures for granting and revoking parole. Majority vote required.

Proposition 10: Authorizes the state to sell $5 billion in bonds for renewable energy, alternative fuel, energy efficiency and air emissions reduction programs.

Proposition 11: Amends the California Constitution to shift the responsibility for drawing political boundaries from the Legislature to an independent citizens commission. Congressional lines are exempted from the new commission’s duties but state Assembly, Senate and Board of Equalization districts after the 2010 Census would fall under its purview. Majority vote required.

Proposition 12: Authorizes the state to sell $900 million in bonds for the Cal-Vet program, which would allow 3,600 additional veterans to receive farm and home loans. Majority vote required.


Measure VV, AC-Transit: Increases its existing parcel tax by $48 a year for 10 years to fund transit improvements for seniors, people with disabilities and students. Two-thirds vote required.

Measure WW, East Bay Regional Park District: Extends existing property tax of $10 per $100,000 assessed valuation per year. Proceeds of $500 million will be used for preservation of creeks, wildlife, open space, purchase of open space and development of parks and trails. Two-thirds vote required.


Measure L, Dublin: Levies new, five-year $96 per parcel annual tax for schools. Funds would be used, among other things, to improve and maintain academic achievement and small class sizes, retention and attraction of teachers and teacher training. Requires two-thirds vote.

Measure M, Livermore: Extends for five years a parcel tax of $138 per year to raise $3.8 million for Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District. Funds would be used, among other things, for teacher salaries, class size reduction and other programs. Requires two-thirds vote.

Measure N, Oakland: Levies a 10-year parcel tax of $120 a year for improvements at the city’s public charter schools. Two-thirds vote required.

Measure O, San Lorenzo: Authorizes $83 million in bonds repayable with property taxes for improvements at the city’s schools Requires 55 percent vote.

Measure P, Alameda: Hikes the city’s real property transfer tax for 20 years from $5.40 to $12 per $1,000 of assessed value. Funds would be used for police, public safety, libraries and other city programs. Majority vote required.

Measure Q, Alameda: Amends city charter to delete obsolete and unclear language. Majority vote required.

Measure R, Alameda: Amends city charter to require all contracts to be in writing. Majority vote required.

Measure S, Alameda: Amends city charter to allow, in an emergency, the city manager or another official, to forego competitive bidding. Majority vote required.

Measure T, Alameda: Amends city charter to allow City Council to set office hours for city operations. Majority vote required.

Measure U, Alameda: Amends city charter to require auditor to have a Certified Public Account license, related educational degree and no bond. Majority vote required.

Measure V, Alameda: Amends city charter to require city treasurer to licensed a Chartered Financial Analyst or Certified Financial Planner and make an annual report to the council. Majority vote required.

Measure W, Alameda: Amends city charter to remove transportation from the jurisdiction of the Public Utility Board. Majority vote required.

Measure X, Alameda: Amends city charter to remove listed reasons for removal of Historical Advisory Board members and allow the City Council to make those decisions. Majority vote required.

Measure Y, Alameda: Amends city charter to directly elect its mayor starting in 2012. Majority vote required.

Measure Z, Alameda: Amends city charter to allow members of commissions, boards, committees, task forces, or other similar bodies, appointed by the City Council to serve for an interim term of up to 45 days after certification of an election, or until they are reappointed or replaced. Majority vote required.

Measure AA, Alameda: Amends city charter to set threshold limits for the requirements for formal competitive bidding. Majority vote required.

Measure BB, Albany: Amends city charter to pay city council members $300 a month salary. Majority vote required.

Measure CC, Albany: Amends city charter to set times when City Council meetings are held. Majority vote required.

Measure DD, Albany: Hikes Albany’s real property transfer tax from $11.50 to $14.50 per $1,000 assessed value. Majority vote required.

Measure EE, Albany: Hikes the city’s ambulance special tax 4 percent starting in 2010. Two-thirds vote required.

Measure FF, Berkeley: Authorizes $26 million in bonds for seismic improvements at four neighborhood branch libraries. Two-thirds vote required.

Measure GG, Berkeley: Levies a special tax on residential and commercial improvements to fund fire station staffing and emergency medical response. Two-thirds vote required.

Measure HH, Berkeley: Increases the city’s annual spending limit to accommodate previously approved taxes for parks, libraries and other services. Majority vote required.

Measure II, Berkeley: Amends city charter to allow the city until Dec. 31 following the 2010 Census to redraw city council boundaries. Majority vote required.

Measure JJ, Berkeley: Amend city law to remove limits on medical marijuana, form a peer review group for enforcement of rules and eliminate the requirement for a special use permit for medical marijuana dispensaries. Majority vote required.

Measure KK, Berkeley: Requires a vote of the people to dedicate road lanes exclusively to transit, buses and carpools. Majority vote required.

Measure LL, Berkeley: Expands City Council authority over the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. Majority vote required.

Measure MM, Fremont: Increases the hotel tax from 8 percent to 10 percent to help fund city services. Majority vote required.

Measure NN, Oakland: Establishes a parcel tax to fund the addition of police officers, crime management data systems and independent audits. Two-thirds vote required.

Measure OO, Oakland: Amends city charter to increase the dollar amount of grants to organizations serving children and increase the amount the city must spend on children and youth. Majority vote required.

Measure PP and QQ, Pleasanton: Competing measures include the Save Pleasanton’s Hills and Housing Cap, (PP) a citizen-sponsored initiative which would limit development on hillsides and more strictly define the city’s definition of a housing “unit” and effectively reduce the housing cap of 29,000 units. The second initiative, (QQ) sponsored by the City Council, would create a public process to write an ordinance to protect hillsides and define housing units.

Measure RR, San Leandro: Reduces utility users’ tax from 6 percent to 5.7 percent on telecommunications and cable services. Majority vote required.

Measure SS, San Leandro: Converts the city’s existing 911 Emergency Communication System Access Fee Ordinance into an Emergency Communication System Access Tax, which subjects the tax rate to a vote of the people rather than City Council. Two-thirds vote required.

Measure TT, San Leandro: Establishes a parcel tax to fund a minimum level of police service. The tax is $48 a year for single-family homes and varying rates for mobile homes, commercial and other uses. Two-thirds vote required.

Measure UU, Union City: Extends the city’s public safety tax eight years for police and fire services. Two-thirds vote required.


Measure A, John Swett Unified School District: Authorizes $20 million bond program repayable with property taxes to fund school improvements. 55 percent vote required.

Measure B, Martinez Unified School District: Establishes a five-year $50 annual parcel tax for academic programs. Two-thirds vote required.

Measure C, Pittsburg Unified School District: Establishes a seven-year, $65 annual parcel tax for technology access, academic programs, class sizes and teacher retention. Two-thirds vote required.

Measure D, West Contra Costa Unified School District: Extends existing parcel tax for five years for academic programs, class size, school cleanliness and as a protection against state budget cuts. Two-thirds vote required.

Measure E, Acalanes Union High School District: Authorizes $93 million bond program repayable with property taxes for a technology fund. 55 percent vote required.

Measure F, County Service Area P-6: Establishes an annual tax of $107 per single-family home for police protection services in the unincorporated areas of East Richmond Heights and Bayo Vista. Other types of uses would pay varying rates. Two-thirds vote required.

Measure G, Concord: Asks voters to determine whether the office of city clerk should be appointed rather than elected.

Measure H, Martinez: Establishes a $30 million bond program repayable with property taxes to improve parks, playgrounds, fields, replace Rankin Pool and expand the library. Two-thirds vote requirement.

Measures J and K, Moraga: Landowner Russell Bruzzone sponsored Measure J, which largely preserves the town’s existing general plan for open space and mandates the developer pay $7 million for public uses in return for housing approvals. Measure K, sponsored by open-space advocates, expands open space land-use designations and restricts development to the downtown area. If both measures pass by a majority, the one with the most votes would prevail.

Measure L, Oakley: Amends the city’s formula used to calculate business license taxes. Majority vote required.

Measure N, Pinole: Imposes limits of three terms on members of the City Council. Majority vote required.

Measure P, San Ramon: Amends city charter to allow the City Council to determine the mayor’s salary, currently set at $100 per month. Majority vote required.

Measure Q, San Ramon: Amends city charter to extend term of measure if the city moves its election to an even-year cycle. Majority vote required.

Measure R, Crockett: Sets 2008-2009 spending limit to $2.8 million. Majority vote required.

Measure S, Discovery Bay: Adjusts annual spending limit to match cost-of-living and population changes. Majority vote required.

Measure T, Richmond: Establishes new annual business license fee equal to one fourth of one percent of the value of the material used in the manufacturing process. Majority vote required.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • Martin Engel

    Linda, where did you get the $19.4 billion figure for the high-speed train? That number contradicts the paragraph under it where you correctly state that the bond issue is for $9.95 billion. However, you are correct insofar as every dollar borrowed through bonds will cost the taxpayers two dollars of repayment in interest and principal over the life of the bond. And, what your article fails to point out is that the $9.95 billion is merely the entry fee for getting into the high speed train game.
    The final costs for this boondoggle may be as much as $100 billion or more and they have no idea where that’s going to come from. Can you guess where?

  • Lisa Vorderbrueggen

    To start, it’s Lisa, not Linda, which is entirely okay since I messed up.

    I had a bad number in my Excel spreadsheet. I fixed it and fixed the figures above! Thanks for the save!

    Lisa v.

  • Martin Engel

    It’s Lisa, not Linda. Please forgive a stupid old man for such an ungracious error.


  • Martin Engel

    And, now that we are good friends, permit me to suggest that you examine Proposition #1 more closely. As you may know, AB3034 was passed by the Legislature to “correct” all the egregious errors in the original bond language. Even as a package, there is still nowhere near enough information for voters to make an informed decision. For example, the voters will not know that the $9.95 is only a foot in the door. They don’t know that the projected costs for the SF to LA segment will cost — their number — $33 billion, or that the entire train from Sacramento to San Diego will cost — without inflation — $45 billion. We can already safely predict it will be three times that much.

    There are three major population centers in the state, Sacramento, Oakland and San Diego, that may never, ever see this train. Do those voters understand that?

    So, Lisa (I got it right this time), I turn to you to set this right and let your readers know the realities behind the empty rhetoric.

    And, warm regards,


  • Lisa Vorderbrueggen

    No worries!

    The high-speed rail is absolutely a very interesting issue and one that I know the newspaper will be watching closely.

  • Why frame this as “taxes, taxes, and more taxes”? Wouldn’t it be just as accurate to say “services, services, and more services”? It seems misleading to list the cost of the taxes but not tally the value to the voter of the services the taxes purchase. It’s not as if those taxes just disappear into a black hole…

  • ted ford

    $19 billion or $100 billion, this does not seem to be California’s most pressing need.

  • mike


    The “it will cost three times as much” figure you cite is derived from assuming that Caltrain upgrades cost 5 times more than they actually do. You’re parroting lies from the anti-Caltrain group that you and your Menlo Park/Atherton neighbors set up. Your figures have been totally debunked as complete fabrications – the very Caltrain project that you cite has a unit cost that is 5 times less than you claimed. Just ask your friend Morris Brown.

  • John W.

    Prop. 11 — Redistricting

    Given the state’s financial condition, voters are likely to be in a “vote no” mood for just about anything except a few locally popular items. Justifiably so. I hope redistricting doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.