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January 24, 2022

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If a vacancy tax is passed, it should include "short-term rental" houses a la Airbnb. These are popping up all over town and are removing more houses from the stock of places to live. They are not helpful with the housing crisis, and should pay for the time they aren't rented.

Thank you, Dan. Great catch. Please follow up with a written request under the California "sunshine laws" (like the Brown Act) so that they have no excuse for ignoring you.

All texts, WhatsApp messages, emails, and communications in any other form re city issues from a council member’s private accounts are public records. See City of San Jose v. Superior Court, 2 Cal 5th 608 (2017).

Whatever "revenue measures" the City Council comes up with, simple observation of the characters involved tells us that, with this city council, they will favor developers, builders, and the rest of the real estate industry rather than the citizens of Pacifica. Oh, sure, their new contrived taxes, fees, etc., will be "sold" on the growth ethic and other myth-based notions commonly used to con ordinary folks into going along with long-term, unsustainable, corrupt (it doesn't have to be illegal to be corrupt) measures; but the continuing, inevitable diminishing of lives in the city will be the same no matter how many pairs of rose-colored glasses are distributed.

Dan Stegink posted: "To be clear, Agenda item 10 'Potential Revenue Measures' was postponed shortly after a public commenter mentioned that O'Neill, Vaterlaus, and Beckmeyer were visibly texting back and forth.

The official reason was loss of video feed. The city attorney got on the line and asked all council members to turn off their microphones.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddUCMz12bmE&t=2h29m22s

That public commenter was me. O’Neill's, Beckmeyer's, and Vaterlaus’s actions clearly created both a 'meeting within a meeting' and secret discussions and communications of a majority or supermajority of Pacifica City Council members, which violate both Brown and Bagley-Keene."

I think real estate-driven city government needs to be checked and controlled. They are working for SAMCAR first, and the City of Pacifica, and its citizens, are second or third in priority. SAMCAR and other real estate organizations provide their campaign materials. They won't give that up. There is no even playing field until they do.

I am tired of this.

To be clear, Agenda item 10 "Potential Revenue Measures" was postponed shortly after a public commenter mentioned that O'Neill, Vaterlaus, and Beckmeyer were visibly texting back and forth.

The official reason was loss of video feed. The city attorney got on the line and asked all council members to turn off their microphones.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddUCMz12bmE&t=2h29m22s

That public commenter was me. O’Neill's, Beckmeyer's, and Vaterlaus’s actions clearly created both a “meeting within a meeting” and secret discussions and communications of a majority or supermajority of Pacifica City Council members, which violate both Brown and Bagley-Keene.

Note: I am not an attorney.

Carl May:

You missed the point of a vacancy tax. The objective is to incentivize homeowners who are leaving homes vacant to put them on the market to rent. The way to do it is to tax the owners of vacant homes. The hope is they will act and put the homes on the market to rent and no tax will be collected. This is an ideal way to increase rental inventory without constructing new housing projects. I thought you would be all in favor of this idea.

Urban-mindset taxation schemes from degenerating large cities are irrelevant to Pacifica. Pacifica has a long history of dealing with the subject of local taxation, with thinking and schemes in modern times shifting this way and that with economic times, local political forces, geographic and environmental awareness, and increasing degrees of overpopulation and overdevelopment with all the problems and governmental expenses associated with those things. If one does not have an awareness of the trends and events in the timeline from the build-out of the valleys in the 1950s, to the ensuing (and ongoing) invasion of the ridges, through the advent and local governmental responses to Prop. 13 in the late '70s, through the recall of most of the City Council for daring to suggest a "landscape and lighting" tax to help balance the city's budget, through all the decades of specious developer arguments that more residential development will improve the tax base when it is well known that residential development almost never pays for the governmental costs it incurs, through the ongoing overload of various kinds of local infrastructure that will now be excessively expensive to update and maintain thanks to a longtime failure to deal with the physical realities of Pacifica's situation, and even into the recent elections bought by outside hit-and-run real estate interests with ramifications that will make Pacifica even more expensive for taxpayers. If an outsider does not know about these ever-evolving shifts and trends and the efforts they now dictate in considering Pacifica's future and how to pay for it, they don't know diddly.

San Francisco's Board of Supervisors is going to consider a vacancy tax. The city's finance director just issued a report that said there are about 40,500 empty homes (10% of all homes) in San Francisco. Some were purchased by speculators who are expecting to profit by the rapid increase in home prices, others are owned as second or third homes by people living elsewhere and are rarely occupied, and others are vacant for transitional reasons -- someone in the hospital, temporarily located elsewhere, waiting to move in after purchasing, under renovation, etc.

The report said there are various tax schemes used in Vancouver, Oakland, and Washington, D.C., cities with vacancy taxes. The two most prominent are a valuation tax (Vancouver) where an annual fee of 3% of the assessed value is charged. The other is a flat fee (Oakland) of $3,000 to $6,000 per year. The flat fee is easy to implement and administer. The valuation tax is much harder.

I have read a report from 2019 that says about 30.4% of Pacifica homes are used for seasonal, recreational, or occasional use and are mostly vacant. There are 13,750 households in Pacifica, which means 4,180 houses are vacant most of the time. The City of Oakland’s vacancy tax applies to vacant housing units or land occupied for less than 50 days per year. The city charges a flat fee of between $3,000 and $6,000 per housing unit or parcel, depending on the use. In 2020 the city reported gross revenues from the tax of $7.3 million. If Pacifica charged a flat annual $3,000 fee, the revenues could be as high as $12,540,000.

This would be a real help in funding the needed services in our community or the funds could be used to provide housing assistance to low-income persons living in Pacifica.

The City of Pacifica has an unsustainable commitment for salaries and pensions.

Why not look at ways to cut back on administration costs, including salaries and pensions?
https://transparentcalifornia.com/salaries/pacifica/

A new real estate tax for Pacifica. The City of Pacifica needs more revenue to provide essential services to the residents of Pacifica.

I have heard that Vancouver has passed a tax on unoccupied homes. The Empty Homes Tax, also known as the "Vacancy Tax", was introduced in 2017 to help return empty and under-utilized properties to the market as long-term rental homes for people who live and work in Vancouver.

Vancouver homeowners are required to submit a declaration each year to determine if their property is subject to the Empty Homes Tax. Properties deemed or declared empty in the 2021 reference year will be subject to a tax of 3% of the property’s 2021 assessed taxable value. Most homes will not be subject to the tax, as it does not apply to principal residences, homes that qualify for an exemption, or homes rented for at least six months of the year.

Net revenues from the tax are being reinvested into affordable housing initiatives. The City of San Francisco has talked about imposing a similar tax, but nothing has come of it.

I would love to see the City of Pacifica impose a similar tax on empty homes to make more homes available for rent and to fund affordable housing through rent assistance subsidies.

It seems some council members and Pacific Coast Television were having technical difficulties with unstable internet last night, so they had to adjourn the meeting before they got to this item. It will probably be added to the next agenda in a couple of weeks.

Let’s brainstorm some other ways to generate income, like cracking down on unpermitted AirBnBs and reviewing project development fees to make sure they are in line with what other cities charge.

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