YES ON MEASURE "L"!
On Tuesday, November 2nd, you will step into the voting booth and make choices that will affect our nation, state, county and city for decades to come.
A RARE CHANCE FOR CHANGE
In Costa Mesa this time around, in addition to State, City Council, School Board and special district candidates to consider, we will have Measure "L" on the ballot - a rare proposal to increase the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) - sometimes known as the "bed tax". You'll find it at the very back of the Sample Ballot.
A KEY TO OUR FINANCIAL WELL-BEING
In my opinion, it's critical that all Costa Mesa voters give serious consideration to voting YES on Measure "L". Unless you've been on another planet for the past couple years you know that Costa Mesa, like most other cities, is in deep financial difficulty. Presently the city staff is trying to figure out how to overcome a nearly $6 million shortfall that remains after trimming most of the flesh off our municipal skeleton and re-negotiating contracts with our public employees. The city has drained more than $30 million from it's reserves in the past three years to come up with a balanced budget. Much of this is due to the condition of our national economy and the inability of our State legislators to put aside partisan bickering, make tough decisions and pass a budget. Costa Mesa is one of the cities who suffer from the State's incompetence - monies properly due the city have been commandeered by the State to help "fix" it's problems.
FROM THE LOWEST TO THE ALMOST LOWEST
This brings us back to Measure "L". This measure, if passed, would increase the Transient Occupancy Tax in Costa Mesa from 6% (the lowest in Orange County and nearly the lowest in the entire state) to 8% and, based on projections by the proponents, it may generate an additional $1.3 million in annual revenue to the city's general fund. This increase will represent about a $2.00 tax increase on an average Costa Mesa hotel room. Presently the median TOT in Orange County is 10.25%, so this modest increase will still place Costa Mesa among the lowest in the county and state.
NO INCREASE SINCE 1974!
Costa Mesa has not had an increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax rate since 1974! Back then The Towering Inferno was the top grossing movie at just under $49 million for the year. Today that would be a good weekend for many movies. Little House On The Prairie staring the late Michael Landon debuted, beginning a nine-year run, and Johnny Miller was the PGA top money winner for the year with earnings of $353,022. That would be a winning purse for almost any tour event today. Since that time, as we all know, costs have increased dramatically, the population has doubled and the demand for municipal services has increased. Each time the issue of increasing the TOT was raised in the recent past it was rejected by the City Council. It finally took a financial crisis unlike anything previously seen in our city to get the current City Council to agree to place this issue before you, the voters, for your consideration.
NO COST TO COSTA MESA RESIDENTS!
Keep in mind that, unless you personally spend time in Costa Mesa hotels, this tax increase will not affect you at all. This increase will be charged to guests in our city, those staying in our hotels and other establishments on a temporary basis. There are no downsides to this increase for Costa Mesa residents. It will mean more money in our general fund to pay for critical staff and services.
NO OPPOSITION ON THE BALLOT STATEMENT
There is no opposing position in the ballot statement, so recently I went to Ed Fawcett, President of the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce, to get his view on this tax increase. Ed told me that the Chamber completely understands why this modest increase is so essential to the financial well-being of our city and does not oppose it. No members of the Costa Mesa hospitality community - hotel owners and managers who collect it - have spoken against this measure.
VOTE 'YES" ON MEASURE "L"
After more than twenty years of not even having an opportunity to consider this subject, this is the year the voters of Costa Mesa finally have the chance to make their views known. This is the year that we all should vote YES on Measure "L".