Voter’s Edge California
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Presentado por
League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
November 6, 2018 — Elección General de California

City of Foster City
Measure TT - Majority Approval Required

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Resultados electorales


8,601 votos si (74.52%)

2,941 votos no (25.48%)

To provide funding for vital city services such as police, fire, parks, and infrastructure maintenance, and for unrestricted general revenue purposes, shall the City of Foster City adopt an ordinance increasing the transient occupancy tax by hotel guests from the current 9.5% to 11% effective January 1, 2019 through June 30, 2019, increasing to 12% July 1, 2019, providing between approximately $924,000 and $981,000 annually, until repealed or amended by voters?

¿Qué es esta propuesta?

Información básica sobre la iniciativa de ley — Información oficial sobre esta iniciativa

Análisis del analista legislativo / Proposal

Jean Savaree, City Attorney

Stae law allows the City of Foster City after a public vote to impose a Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) on short term occupants of hotels, motels, inns, or other lodging ("Operators"). This TOT is a tax on the room rent paid by visitors staying at Operators' properties in Foster City for stays of thirty consecutive days or less.

This measure, if approved by a majority of the voters, would amend Section 3.20.030 of the Foster City Municipal Code to increase the TOT from the current rate of nine and one-half percent (9.5%) of the room charge to eleven percent (11%) from January-June 2019, and to twelve percent (12%) thereafter. This measure does not affect the method of collection of the TOT and all regulations relating to the existing TOT will remain.

The City implemented the original TOT ordinance in 1981. At that time the TOT rate was set at eight percent (8%). This was increased to nine and one half percent (9.5%) in 2012. Foster City's existing rate of nine and one-half percent (9.5%) is the lowest of all the cities in San Mateo County. The proposed rate of twelve percent (12%), if adopted, would bring the City's TOT in line with ten (10) other cities in San Mateo County.

Revenues from the TOT are collected by the Operators from their guests and paid to the City. TOT is a general tax, which means that the tax proceeds are deposited into the City's General Fund and may be used for any and all municipal purposes, including, but not limited to the police, fire, maintenance of parks, streets, lagoons, levees, public buildings, and infrastructure. The City estimates that based on current TOT revenues the increase in TOT from nine and one-half percent (9.5%) to twelve percent (12%) would generate approximately $924,000 to $981,000 annually.

If this Measure is approved by a majority of the voters, persons staying in hotels and motels in the City of Foster City will pay $1.50 more for each $100.00 of room charge between January-June 2019 and $2.50 more thereafter.

This Measure reserves the City Council's right to reduce the TOT in the future without a vote of the people but it does not permit the City Council to raise the rate of the TOT above the authorized rate without additional voter approval.

A "Yes" vote on this Measure is a vote in favor of increasing the TOT from nine and one half percent (9.5%) to eleven percent (11%) commencing January 1, 2019 to June 30, 2019, and increasing the rate to twelve percent (12%) on July 1, 2019. 

A "No" vote on this measure is a vote to maintain the TOT at the existing rate of nine and one-half percent (9.5%).

This measure will be adopted if it is approved by the majority of the voters voting on this Measure.


Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Argumento A FAVOR

Measure TT is NOT a new tax and will NOT raise taxes for homeowners or renters in Foster City. Transient occupancy (or "hotel") taxes are paid by travelers staying at our three local hotels. Services like police, fire, street and streetlight maintenance, parks and recreation serve not only our residents and local businesses but also those that stay in our hotels. While the costs of providing those services have risen, the hotel tax was at 8% since it was first adopted in 1981 and has been at 9.5% since 2012, both the lowest in the County. With this proposed increase, Foster City will still have one of the lowest TOT rates in San Mateo County.

The proposed increase will be phased in over time and will initially raise an estimated $271,800 in the first year, rising to $981,000 by fiscal year 2022-2023. Starting back in 2010, the City eliminated about 10% of its workforce, trimmed $2 million in spending, and negotiated reduced pension benefits with police officers and firefighters. Despite that, our projections show a structural deficit with expenses exceeding revenues. Going forward, our choices are clear - find additional revenue or face deep cuts in essential services.

Measure TT applies only to travelers staying at hotels or motels in our city - the hotel tax has no impact on Foster City homeowners or renters. Voting YES ON MEASURE TT means these visitors will pay their fair share of the costs of the police, fire, and other essential services they rely upon.

Please join us in voting YES on Measure TT.


/s/ Herbert John Perez, Foster City City Councilmember

/s/ Charles S. Bronitsky, Foster City City Councilmember

Argumento EN CONTRA

Taxation without representation is tyranny! This measure taxes travelers where they do not get to vote.

What kind of a people are we? Tax the vistors; tax our guests? Tax the homeless family in a motel?

Sacramento should never be allowing this. Foster City raises the tax on its hotels and other cities raise the tax on your room when you travel. This is turning people against each other like a tariff war.

Why aren't taxes made equal? Didn't we get the equal protection promised by the 14th Amendment? This tax is wrong. Don't be tempted. Just say No!

In fact, this measure should not even be allowed on the ballot. The ballot statement is argumentative, a prejudiced question written to make it pass. AB 195 outlawed argumentative and biased statements but governments still try them anyway.

Nothing in the actual law says the City Council really has to spend the tax on parks or the Fire Department or do anything in particular with the money. The actual law says the money is unrestricted and they can spend it as they please. But the ballot statement might mislead you to think some money is  reserved for important issues. It is not.

Don't tax a guest!

Just vote No on TT


/s/ Harland Harrison, Chair, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County 

Refutación al argumento A FAVOR

The Foster City Transient Occupancy Tax should not be raised; it should be abolished.

At best, the law is intended to tax only people who cannot vote on it.

Sure, the rate has not increased since 1981.  Of course not. It is a percentage! The government's take has already gone way up as inflation has raised the price of a room. Now they want to raise the percentage and then want that percentage to go up even more automatically.

So the Transient Occupancy Tax has no impact on Foster City residents? Really? What about AirBnb? The law specifically defines that "hotels" includes "apartment houses," "moble homes", just about anything people could sleep in. (If you dare host renters in your home, be careful. The penalities for violating this law are up to 6 months in jail!)

Proponents argue that other cities have similar taxes. And yes, they want those taxes increased, too. Everybody will pay more and more as they tax each other, everybody paying taxes they cannot vote on.

These taxes are just wrong. Tax the visitors? Tax your guests? Tax anybody but yourselves? Dont' tax a mansion; tax sharing a condo? Don't tax the rich; tax the homeless family in a motel? How disgraceful!

The State of California should never have authorized this kind of taxation. Taxes should be uniform throughout California. The Foster City Transient Occupancy Tax is aimed at people where they cannot vote. Make us tax them and make them tax us. This is wrong. You can stop it.

Vote No on Measure TT.


/s/  Harland Harrison, Chair, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County 

Refutación al argumento EN CONTRA

While hotel guests may not have the right on Measures in cities in which they do not live, they do add to the cost of maintaining the City and its infrastructure. Transit Occupancy Taxes (TOT) are common throughout California and elsewhere and are a means of ensuring that hotel guests pay their share of the City resources they use. The argument against presumes that the residential taxpayer should bear that burden alone. This measure only equalizes the sharing of that cost among those who create the need to bear it.

Foster City has historically had the lowest TOT in San Mateo County and these increases will not change that. Hotel guests, like residents, are able to enjoy the features of Foster City, its parks and its streets. They are protected from harm by our police and fire fighters. They use our water and wastewater. They create trash and recycling that we must collect and dispose of. Asking them to pay a small amount for this service is not only common, it is fair and reasonable. Currently our residents bear the burden of stress to our infrastructure and quality of life. This small increase will ensure that the burden is shared with the visitors who enjoy our City. We are asking them to pay their fair share.

Please join a unanimous City Council in voting YES on Measure TT!


/s/ Herbert Perez, Foster City City Councilmember

/s/ Charles Bronitsky, Foster City City Councilmember 

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