Blogging Bayport Alameda

August 21, 2008

The Buycott

Filed under: Alameda, Business, School — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 7:00 am

It’s old news by now, but it’s still relevant and, personally, a bit on the disturbing side.   A new group styling itself, “Alamedans for Fair Taxation” has decided that they may want to move forward with a lawsuit against the school district over Measure H.   Here’s the odd thing though, it would appear, based on an old post by Eve Pearlman, that the legal “leg” that they are standing on is that:

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.

So if they are using the idea that because property owners that live outside of Alameda were unable to have a say in the election, the name “Alamedans for Fair Taxation” rings a little bit hollow.  So either they have decided to abandoned that legal line of thinking or they simply like the irony of the name with the legal issue.  

One question that has been asked and asked consistently is, who is behind this group?   It’s a lot more shadowly than the folks behind Measure H (considering that the folks behind Measure H were never shadowy yet came immediately under a cloud of suspicion) ever were and I have yet to hear some of our more curious residents beating the drum to find out who it is that is funding this effort to not only take money away from our schools and children that a supermajority of voters in Alameda voted for as well as money that will come in the form of defending this lawsuit.

Of course, this is not a done deal yet as the lawsuit has not yet been filed, perhaps it would be a good time to appeal to the better nature of the folks who are seriously contemplating this move.   Rob Siltanen has a good anaylsis on this issue, highlights:

…Those who are organizing/considering the legal challenge include businesses that benefit greatly from our tax dollars when they receive local government assistance. (As just one example, how much has Alameda given to PSBA, etc. in the form of grants and subsidies?).

…When a huge majority of the community says yes to something like Measure H, even those who disagree with it should accept it rather than pursue something that would be so very divisive and that would so clearly leave all of us worse off. Arguing against a parcel tax during a campaign is one thing. Trying to overturn/throw out an election result after the fact is another…

In the end, of course, no one except Alameda for Fair Taxation can decide whether to file suit. If they do, I think they’ll find that businesses that turn their backs on the clear will of the community by participating in an effort to overturn the popular results of an election will also have the community turn their backs on them.

While I won’t call for a straight out boycott of the businesses that are supporting Alamedans for Fair Taxation either in spirit or monetarily, I do want to know — on the flip side — who IS supporting our schools and kids by not supporting AFT.   That way I can make the very decisive choice of spending my dollars at businesses that support issues that I feel are important.   So, I have created this map to track businesses that are supporting our schools and children.   If you know of any businesses that should be added to this list, you can email me or leave it in the comments section and I’ll update the map.   It’s really important to remember that even though some Alameda businesses are funding this effort, last I heard they had raised $100K for legal fees, there are businesses out there that still do support our schools and they deserve our support and to not be lumped together.   So far, I only have some Park Street businesses and would love to round it out with businesses Citywide.

The big question is, these “Alamedans for Fair Taxation” has a similiar opportunity to get organized before the last election too, to raise $100K to fight the parcel tax, wouldn’t that have been a better use of everyone’s elses time and money rather than sitting back on a wing and a prayer that the Measure wouldn’t meet the very difficult 2/3 threshold?   According to rumors I have heard, the lawyer taking on this case (freshly graduated from law school in 2002 2004) has deemed this a “slam dunk” case.  While the details are fuzzy and few about what legal argument AFT will be using, I can’t imagine that any case that would require overturning the political will of 2/3 of the voting public will be a “slam dunk” in any court of law.



  1. How can we contribute to the AFT cause? Is there an address where we can send a donation?

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — August 21, 2008 @ 7:45 am

  2. Jeff T:

    Eve P.’s blog post mentions they have a South Shore address and phone number. Or, apparently you can contact the folks that own Pillow Park Plaza and Pauline’s since they were referenced in Rob S.’s blog post.

    Comment by Lauren Do — August 21, 2008 @ 8:04 am

  3. Thanks … they are hard to find due to all of the impending boycott threats. I looked at your map and have decided to continue to support those businesses even if their political views differ from mine. Alameda is too small an Island to begin running people off for disagreeing with their vote.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — August 21, 2008 @ 8:26 am

  4. And, just out of curiosity, are we supposed to start boycotting doctors and hospitals now who are pro choice because they are obviously anti-kids? And, are we supposed to start boycotting restaurants now that sell meat because they are anti-animals? Can you create a map that pinpoints which businesses on the Island are kid and animal friendly? Thanks 🙂

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — August 21, 2008 @ 8:31 am

  5. Ha, ha…you Do know how to poke ’em in the eye JRT.

    Comment by laquan white — August 21, 2008 @ 8:31 am

  6. Jeff, as far as I know there is only one (1) animal-friendly restaurant on the island. All of the others support animal slaughter.

    Comment by Jack B — August 21, 2008 @ 8:34 am

  7. Jack, you must Central Vegetarian Cuisine on Park. I have to say that it is absolutely amazing what those people do with tofu … truly a gem of a restaurant.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — August 21, 2008 @ 9:22 am

  8. What’s next — exempting out-of-state visitors from the California sales tax?

    Comment by pch1013 — August 21, 2008 @ 9:22 am

  9. … but I wonder how they voted on Measure H??? We may not be allowed to eat there any more 😦

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — August 21, 2008 @ 9:23 am

  10. PCH … I think that one of the issue for AFT is that they drafted Measure H so quickly and rammed it down people’s throat that out of town voters did not have adequate representation. However, the reason that they did this was because they knew that they had to get it on the ballot before the November elections. In November, two competing parcel taxes are being offered up and the board knew that if their measure was on the same ballot as two other big tax increases that all three would get voted down. It was a smart tactic … but devious …

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — August 21, 2008 @ 9:28 am

  11. I am one of those “out of towners” I grew up in Alameda and still own property there. I have no problem with paying taxes to support the schools.
    As for boycotting business that support AFT, why would anyone support an organiztion that they disagree with?

    Comment by Sherman Lee — August 21, 2008 @ 9:32 am

  12. Jeff — The fact that Measure H got 2/3+ of the vote does not suggest that it was rammed down the throats of an unwilling or uninformed electorate. If the anti-tax people couldn’t get their act together quickly enough, whose fault is that?

    Comment by pch1013 — August 21, 2008 @ 9:42 am

  13. PCH – you are right. Fair representation and uniformity in taxation are not important issues in the United States … well, if you don’t count that whole “Revolution” fiasco back in 1776.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — August 21, 2008 @ 9:53 am

  14. So what’s unfair or un-uniform about Measure H?

    Comment by pch1013 — August 21, 2008 @ 10:05 am

  15. Measure H’s 2/3 majority was greater than the support that the Revolution had in the 13 colonies.

    Just sayin’

    Comment by dave — August 21, 2008 @ 10:05 am

  16. By filing this lawsuit they will (regardless of whether they win or loose) be freezing the funds; denying the basic education we voted to fund (arts, music, sports); the schools cannot spend over budget and teachers will loose their jobs.

    I don’t feel bad about taking my business elsewhere – I will (like many others) not be shopping in any store associated with this lawsuit.

    Comment by Choosing where I shop... — August 21, 2008 @ 11:38 am

  17. “By filing this lawsuit they will (regardless of whether they win or loose) be freezing the funds; denying the basic education we voted to fund (arts, music, sports); the schools cannot spend over budget and teachers will loose their jobs.”

    I sure hope that you are right!

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — August 21, 2008 @ 11:45 am

  18. “I sure hope that you are right!”

    Yes, because then all the teachers will have to go on welfare and leave the Island. Everybody wins!

    Comment by pch1013 — August 21, 2008 @ 12:03 pm

  19. I believe the real question is AUSD above the law? If I broke the law and I’m caught I expect to make restitution. This is a poorly written proposition that in my opinion brakes the law. AUSD should voluntarily withdraw from collecting this tax and put forth a well written proposition that can pass the litmus test.

    Comment by Ellis McCauley — August 21, 2008 @ 12:12 pm

  20. “Yes, because then all the teachers will have to go on welfare and leave the Island.”

    Too bad we didn’t save one of those habitat for humanity houses for them … next time, we’ll plan better 🙂

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — August 21, 2008 @ 12:13 pm

  21. The problem I have is those who get to vote for the tax . . . then opt out. Why won’t the District include Seniors. If the tax is good for business its good for seniors. I do not want to hear the fixed income argument, prop 13 long term land owners, mostly seniors, are saving.

    Comment by Sideline — August 21, 2008 @ 12:31 pm

  22. I think this is a great idea. I’d like to know the businesses who don’t support our schools so I can take my business elsewhere!

    Comment by Karen Bey — August 21, 2008 @ 12:57 pm

  23. #22…
    Seniors are exempt under California State law, as are SSI recipients.
    You are correct, no one is above the law, not even the President of the United States.The AUSD made a mistake, by not applying the the tax uniformly to all parcels. California Government code 50079 is very clear on that.The argument now exists, the people voted for it and it past by 2/3. That will not change the fact, that Measure H violates 50079.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 21, 2008 @ 1:05 pm

  24. I was taught to have empathy. Remember that this tax is not on the business but on the landowner and square footage of the lot not the building. I’m a Single family landowner If I was under the same rules my tax would be 50ft x 150ft = 7,500sqft times .15 = $1,125.00 a year times four years = $4,500 due on a single property. This is a big jump from the 120.00 x 4 = 480.00 I will be paying.

    Comment by Ellis McCauley — August 21, 2008 @ 1:15 pm

  25. The people behind the lawsuit are most likely the property owners, as Ellis Mc Cauley wisely pointed out. Be careful not to burn the business owners that lease the property. For obvious reasons, they probably won’t be displaying “Support Measure H” signs in their windows.

    Comment by AD — August 21, 2008 @ 1:42 pm

  26. # 25..
    I am glad you brought that up. Commercial property owners that own a parcel of 2000 sq. ft. or less will pay only $ 120. that means they will only pay on the first 800 sq. ft. and nothing on the rest up to 2000 sq. ft. The large parcel owners like the shopping centers pay $9,500. on 63336 sq.ft. and no more after that.That leaves the little guys, that fall in the middle, to pay the majority of the tax. I don’t think this is what the Legislature had in mind, when they wrote this law.Lets be fair to all property owners of Alameda.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 21, 2008 @ 1:42 pm

  27. Rather than a negative boycott, I would prefer to see a positive “buycott” Encourage businesses that support Measure H to post a sign saying so(contrary to what AD says, I think businesses would put signs up if they knew it would bring business), and then support those businesses, and let them know you appreciate their support of measure H.

    Comment by notadave — August 21, 2008 @ 2:16 pm


    Comment by David Kirwin — August 21, 2008 @ 3:42 pm

  29. Anyone has a right to challenge the tax in the courts. Perhaps the district did act illegally. The measure was rushed to the ballot and a lot of concerns about its structure were raised at the time. The threat of causing financial harm to someone for exercising their constitutional rights is simply thuggery. It is like threatening someone if they go to the police. I wouldn’t want to do business with anyone who threatens retribution for using your legal rights.

    I should probably stop shopping at all Alameda businesses as I’m sure that all of them are involved in something that I don’t like. Perhaps this could be combined with the “buy nothing” movement.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — August 21, 2008 @ 4:04 pm

  30. Wait a minute, isn’t this parcel tax written the same as the last one?

    Comment by Jack Richard — August 21, 2008 @ 4:22 pm

  31. I heard that many of the teachers where not in support of Measure H, because the funds where not being spent right. Should we find out which teacher wasn’t for Measure H and have students boycott there classes?

    Oh last time I check kids live in houses, not commercial property. So why are we making the business front the bill? I say make all business pay $120 and make Single family landowner pay 15 cents.

    Or what about everyone just pay $120. If Measure H wa just that we all would not be here today.

    Comment by Billy the Kid — August 21, 2008 @ 4:24 pm

  32. Wasn’t the advertised purpose of Measure H to offset the possibility of a proposed 10% cut by the governor?

    Well, this hasn’t happened and from recent news doesn’t appear likely to happen at all. It sounds like a proposal is in the works that will *not* slash the education budget (or at least not near 10%)

    Link to Proposed compromise:

    Comment by Brandon — August 21, 2008 @ 4:25 pm

  33. ANT, you are right that anyone has a right to challenge the tax, and the measure H folks should probably have been expecting it. But at the same time, we have the right to support businesses that fit in with our own personal beliefs. I don’t think it is right for either side to stomp their feet and say “No fair, you can’t threaten economic harm” Which is what both sides are in fact doing. Both sides need to suck it up and deal with the consequences of their actions.

    Comment by notadave — August 21, 2008 @ 4:59 pm

  34. #34

    Frankly, the boycott-girlcott-buycott isn’t going to amount to anything.

    You can shop anywhere that you want. That isn’t the point. This is about threatening coordinated economic harm against those who are only exercising their legal right to challenge a law. Not all legislation is found to be legal. The separation of powers and the checks-and-balances provided by having three branches of government is essential to preserve freedom and democracy. Seeking redress through the courts is a right — just as much as putting a measure on the ballot.

    This whole small town mentality of “Do it my way or someone is going to get hurt” doesn’t benefit anyone in the long run. In an eye-for-an-eye world we all end up blind and toothless.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — August 21, 2008 @ 5:23 pm

  35. And here comes the Inquisition

    “But I say publicize your names, explain your thinking, be quoted in the paper, put your name on the project, put signs in your windows, “No to Measure H!” All of you.”

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — August 21, 2008 @ 5:26 pm

  36. My boycott was also about threatening coordinated economic harm against those who were acting legally, and I’m a hero.

    Comment by Cesar Chavez — August 21, 2008 @ 5:32 pm

  37. #31 – really, Jack – are you new to this blog, or did you sleep through the entire spring?

    There were many many complaints about M”H”. Many of us who voted for it had serious issues with it – the way it was put together without public involvement, the wording of the measure concerning the way it would be spent, and the fact that nobody would take responsibility for the authorship –
    (-Barbara Mooney, we are still awaiting your promise to inform us who wrote it…),

    Certainly many people regretted that M”H” gave the large parcel owners a huge break. As reported in today’s ALAMEDA SUN; the way the Measure as written seems to give the biggest commercial property owners a huge pass because otherwise those property owners would have spent money to defeat the Measure.

    My take on the article in the Sun is that inequity was the reason for starting the suit. If the suit is filed it will be interesting to see how the laws are interpreted. If the language of M”H” is deemed legal, next time perhaps commercial property parcels should be taxed “per lease”, and applied the same way to every parcel. That way the ‘pass-through’ costs to tenants would be clear and concise, and unscrupulous property owners will not use the tax as an excuse to raise rents to the point where it is a revenue stream for the owners at a cost to our businesses. At the same time, because it would raise far more revenue, maybe the tax rate could be reduced, perhaps to as low as .10/sf and still provide the same amount of revenue. I don’t have the time or wherewithal to run the actual numbers.

    It would be an interesting public discussion as to what “fair” or equal” taxation really means.

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 21, 2008 @ 5:52 pm

  38. I don’t see it as do it my way — it’s about being part of a community and paying your share of the costs to live in a quality community with good schools. Quality schools don’t just happen, they are paid for by a community that is committed to good schools. I would not want to support a business who didn’t give back to their community by supporting its schools. Its that simple!

    Comment by Karen Bey — August 21, 2008 @ 6:01 pm

  39. There seems to be very little concern if the tax is even legal. If it is legal, then the legal challenge will not succeed. If the tax is illegal, then does any means justify the ends?

    Interesting comparison to the grape boycott. That boycott was against the table grape growers. It wasn’t against the stores that carried table grapes. It was one of the few examples of a boycott working.

    All the talk of a boycott is just mean-spirited small town politics. It won’t accomplish anything except to create bad blood. Almost all of the nice pieces of furniture in our home are from Pillow Park. The owners are wonderful people who have been in business for many years. They do not mistreat their employees. They do not sell shoddy goods. They stand behind what the sell. They are active in the community. They have a right to seek redress in the courts. In my mind, the greater harm is being caused by those who seek retribution against them.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — August 21, 2008 @ 6:01 pm

  40. # 32..
    In 2005 the AUDS put school parcel tax Measure A on the ballot and it passed by about 51 votes. It was written by If you contact them now and ask who wrote Measure H, they refer you to Ron Mooney, who is running for a seat on the school board.I wonder what his chances are if Measure H gets invalidated.I am wondering why so many of the top school board people are leaving??? Go to Mike McMahon’s Website
    and read about the retired judge disputing Measure A spending.It’s not just the teachers, that are unhappy.The AUSD appoints the oversight committee to make sure the funds are spend according to the guidelines, that’s like the fox watching the hen house!

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 21, 2008 @ 6:07 pm

  41. Before someone corrects me, I’ll correct myself. There was a UFW boycott of Safeway in the early 70s. Many stores carried non-union table grapes, but Safeway had very close ties to the non-union growers and was singled out for their hostility to the UFW. It was a very long and ugly battle. A friend of mine at the time was the daughter of farmworkers and spent many hours in front of Safeway with her boycott grapes sign.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — August 21, 2008 @ 6:20 pm

  42. So that was “activism” but MH picketing is “mean spirited.”

    Comment by Cesar Chavez — August 21, 2008 @ 6:25 pm

  43. Thank you #40 for pointing out that the people at Pillow Park are wonderful civic minded business people, who are very much involved in community affairs. They have been on the forefront supporting the ACLU for many years and also have supported the community and schools. It is a pleasure to shop in their store, Nice people and good prices. I believe in keeping the money in Alameda.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 21, 2008 @ 6:27 pm

  44. # 39..
    How much is the assessment for Measure H on your property? Do you own commercial property? Look at #25 and tell me this is fair.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 21, 2008 @ 6:39 pm

  45. Karen, I don’t think any of the businesses who are being unfairly taxed and want to file the lawsuit would mind paying the same $120/yr/parcel as residents. Is that what you mean by doing their fair share for the community?

    But why should some commercial property owners pay $.15/sf and others pay nothing or as little as $.009 / sf?

    What if MH taxed you $1500/yr, but most others only $120 / year?

    I’m really not clear on the MH effect on condos vs apartment buildings, but is it fair that multi-million $ homes pay the same paltry sum as a tiny bungalow? What is a fair tax burden?

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 21, 2008 @ 6:42 pm

  46. #43
    Or perhaps the pickets are in front of the wrong address. Perhaps they should be in front of the homes of those who wrote a questionable ballot measure.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — August 21, 2008 @ 6:49 pm

  47. Or in front of the homes of those who buy overpriced furniture from people who get huge public works to benefit them.

    Comment by Cesar Chavez — August 21, 2008 @ 6:52 pm

  48. #48
    Yes, that would really help the community and create social justice. It is much better to pay less and buy furniture from China than pay more and buy American made goods.

    Each condo is a separate parcel. A 500 square foot studio condo pays as much as a 50 unit apartment building on a single parcel.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — August 21, 2008 @ 6:58 pm

  49. According to the Assessors office an apartment building of more than 5 unites is considered commercial property, they have to apply for a commercial loan to purchase the property.I don’t understand how a huge apartment complex like South Shore Beach and Tennis can be assessed $120. A small commercial parcel of about 7500 sq.ft. is assessed $1,125.Something is terrible wrong here.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 21, 2008 @ 7:16 pm

  50. I’m not sure what the reality is here, can anybody knowledgeable explain?

    I understand that rental property is a ‘business’, ie. Commercial. I don’t know a couple things though;
    Why aren’t all rentals considered commercial property?
    Is it only when a parcel is “owner occupied” that a duplex to quad-plex is exempt from being a “commercial parcel”?

    When speaking of “Commercial SQ Footage” – Is it the sf of the parcel, or of the “improved property” – the interior footage of all floors? This was my assumption.

    I also have to consider that our island’s businesses that own their own parcels, like those mentioned in the article, already have a leg up on the competition that have to pay rent. They have tax advantages, equity building, and were outspoken about getting the garage and multiplex that they hoped to benefit from.

    I haven’t stepped inside PPP since they were so outspoken getting Alameda into another $40,000,000 debt. While I do like the theater, I don’t like the debt, everything has trade-offs, and Alameda seems to be living beyond our means, we will see more taxes on future ballots for both our city and the state because of the misuse of Re-development bond laws.

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 21, 2008 @ 8:44 pm

  51. I agree with NayTiff, and D.K.,
    Had the people who wrote measure “H” worked a little harder at getting it right and fair we would not be arguing over it at this point.
    Some of you want to go after business owners who have given much time and money to many causes in Alameda over the years, that to me is not very fair.
    Remember if this measure had been done properly and with some input from the community this thread would not be going on right now.

    Comment by john piziali — August 21, 2008 @ 8:58 pm

  52. My understanding, and I hope someone more knowledgeable chimes in here, is that this parcel tax was modeled on parcel taxes that have passed and exist in many communities in California. If this model was as blatantly illegal as ANT says it is, then it would have been challenged a long time ago. It hasn’t, which may be a clue that the lawsuit is more bark than bite.

    Comment by notadave — August 21, 2008 @ 9:21 pm

  53. While it is true that some communities including Berkeley have enacted parcel taxes for schools that had different rates for residential parcels and commercial parcels, I don’t know of any that had different rates within either classification. The very fact that there are different rates within the classifications seems to imply they are all not taxed equally.

    On the other hand, I certainly don’t know what every CA community has done and perhaps others have passed measures similar to M”H”. However, if in fact there other H-like measures, that itself does not make it legal. Today on 880 I saw a driver going 80 mph holding a cell phone to his head making an illegal lane change, almost hitting another car. Seeing that done is not a good defense if caught doing any of those things. Likewise even if these Alameda property owners decide to invest in our schools instead of the legal system, we will not know the true legal standing of M”H”.

    While we are searching to fill the two most important positions for serving our community’s school system is a horrible time for these merchants to express, or create dysfunction between our community and our schools. Between these merchants and our schools, I know who has my support and who does not.

    When it comes time to elect new school board members, I also know who will not have my support because of the closed methods employed to create the M”H” language. The ‘blame’ for this ill-timed fiasco falls both ways.

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 21, 2008 @ 10:02 pm

  54. And Brian … you got your law degree where?

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — August 21, 2008 @ 10:40 pm

  55. John P., I find it significantly odd that you and I would be agreeing on these issues.

    It would be important to have public discussions on what is meant by “A fair tax”, or what is the meaning of “Sustainability”, or “What do we want our community to be like in 10, 20, 50 years?”

    Alameda DID vote by over a 2:1 margin to support our schools. We voted to put our schools first.

    It is also vital to support our merchants; and now we must respect that some of our commercial property owners may very well have become victims of an unfair tax practice, just as Alamedans may have become victims of an unfair debt practice with the re-development bonds creation, or the municipal bonds sold to grow APT, or just as our politicians may decide again to re-open Alameda to even more future development with new changes to the traffic and housing elements of our city’s General Plan, in order to try to get some more future funding promises from ABAG. (Assc of Bay Area Gov’ments)

    It is horrible that there are now so many factions within our community willing to surrender the rights of others for a promise of future funding.

    There are times when communities have to pull together for survival, and we are entering one of those times. We must pull together again. We need leadership that can unite our communities, not to just try to achieve their own goals.

    It of course is my hope these merchants decide to not proceed with the suit. I would even make a mindful effort to support these merchants if they choose to invest in our schools rather than their lawyers. Of course that too is imbalanced because there is no way my spending at PPP or PA could offset their M”H” costs.

    It is also my hope that our community will convene to discuss an improved, long-term tax measure to replace both M”A” & M”H”; and that that publicly commence as soon as we have a finalized State budget; and the for fullest public understanding of all facets of our community that are involved, these public discussions and debates continue to the beginning of 2009 when our new AUSD, and city leaders are in place.

    This would be a great exercise for the kind of citizenship participation which will be needed for this community to pull together. There will have to be a practiced tolerance for venting, because there will need to be plenty of venting before our community can pull together. As a community we will have to come to terms with conflict resolution and compromise. This is a tall task, but I believe the digital evolution makes it possible, and our factionalized community makes it necessary. The hard part is overcoming inertia with a respected and impartial leadership team. Alameda has to learn to pull together.

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 21, 2008 @ 11:03 pm

  56. Re: 57. “Of course that too is imbalanced because there is no way my spending at PPP or PA could offset their M”H” costs.”

    How do you know that? What is the amount of the Measure H tax for a store like Pillow Park Plaza? I know it’s 15 cents a square foot, but how many square feet do they have?

    Comment by Matt — August 22, 2008 @ 12:55 am

  57. #58: I’ll SWAG it at 8 – 10k sf

    Comment by DK — August 22, 2008 @ 6:16 am

  58. Even if the SF of PPP is only half that of my guess,(It has been years since I was in there and I never saw their recieving/storage area) 5k sf would = $7,500 per year to my $120/ year, right? $30,000 to my $480?

    But the exact figures are not the point of my posts.

    Comment by DK — August 22, 2008 @ 6:33 am

  59. Check your math. It’s $0.15 per square foot, not $1.50 per square foot.

    Comment by Lauren Do — August 22, 2008 @ 7:34 am

  60. “It is also vital to support our merchants” bzzzzzt. Wrong answer. We aren’t forced to shop where we don’t want to. It is more vital for merchants to build good will in the community. For local businesses, it usually isn’t the price of their goods that attracts shoppers, it is the way they conduct business, the knowledge they bring, and their connectivity with the local community.

    Comment by notadave — August 22, 2008 @ 8:25 am

  61. The business community in Alameda is not involved, its the property owners. PISBA has been neutral on this from the very beginning, so is the Chamber of Commerce. It’s a different story on Webster, where Kathy Moehring Executive Director for WABA is also on the oversight committee for AUSD. Her husband admitted in a hastily called meeting 2 weeks before the election that he personally called the seniors and told them to vote for Measure H, since they would not have to pay for it.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 22, 2008 @ 8:57 am

  62. So if Pillow Park is around 10k SF that would be $1,500 a year for four years. Seems like a rather petty amount over which to file a lawsuit and piss off their customers. I think they could have easily generated more than that amount in a “We support our schools” campaign or something like that.

    Comment by Matt — August 22, 2008 @ 9:06 am

  63. #65..
    You obviously either own a residential property that will pay $120. per year or rent and hope your landlord won’t pass on the extra tax.No small business owner can afford this kind of increase in taxes for the next four years. The economy is at a low point, with high gas prices and foreclosures everywhere.The people that are loosing their homes will not go out and spend money on non essentials like new furniture. Why don’t you ask some of the property owners how much this tax will affect them. Just because they own a commercial property doesn’t make them wealthy. The Marketplace on Park Street, that was hailed as one of Alameda’s outstanding new businesses, has to pay an increase in taxes of more than $6000. per year for the next four years, while the the shopping centers pay $9,500 per parcel and pass that on to their tenants. That means places like Safeway and Trader Joe’s will get an increase of a few hundred dollars.I know of one commercial property/business owner who had pro Measure H signs all over their property thinking they would have to pay $120. per year. The day before the election a customer informed them about the $0.15 per sq.ft. and they where shocked. Needless to say, they voted no on the Measure since their tax would have increased by $2.500 per year.And believe me, there are many more stories like this. This is by no means an excuse,we are all at fault for not reading the fine print in our voters pamphlet. But the fact is, on May 30th, just four days before the election, there was a big article in the Alameda Journal, promoting Measure H and telling everyone to vote for it because it’s only $120 per year. Not once did they mention the $0.15 per sq.ft. for commercial property.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 22, 2008 @ 12:04 pm

  64. “We are all at fault for not reading the fine print in our voters pamphlet.”

    Fine print?

    Comment by Reading is Fundamental — August 22, 2008 @ 12:27 pm

  65. Sorry, how about

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 22, 2008 @ 12:45 pm

  66. And your local paper…

    Here’s some things I’ve heard:

    The Multi-unit residential building is still kind of in question. Any landlord owning a multi unit apt. building doesn’t know what rate they are going to pay. (Since there are multiple possible rates in this “uniform” parcel tax.)

    Certain real estate transactions are frozen because realtors can’t get info to disclose the proper tax amount to new owners.

    Senior homes will need to raise rates on their residents.

    Certain maritime/light industrial buildings on the North Shore have returned tax figures of $40,000 and $300,000 annually.

    People who try to find out what they will need to pay are getting the run around. Tax assessor sends them to AUSD, AUSD sends them back to the tax assessor.

    A huge problem as I’ve heard it is AUSD isn’t talking to these people, returning their calls or answering their questions.

    Just some complaints I’ve heard…

    Comment by EJK — August 22, 2008 @ 3:05 pm

  67. That is true Eric, even the city is getting the run around from AUSD, they are trying to find out about their propery leased to businesses like Auction by the Bay, which is a huge property.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 22, 2008 @ 4:01 pm

  68. Lauren – Thanks for the ‘math facts’ – It was too early and pre-caffeine for me to correctly count/move decimal places in my head. I appreciate the correction as much as I’m embarrassed by my inability to even count to three on my fingers… A job at H&R Block is not in my future.

    Although I can agree that M”H” is an unevenly distributed tax for commercial parcels, at 10% of what I posted it does seem the investment in lawyers will cost more than what M”H” is requiring as a ‘forced investment’ in our schools.

    I do caution readers to not go after businesses because this is about the property owners, not the businesses that lease from them. It is vital to support Alameda’s businesses because that helps our community in many ways. (Employment, sales tax, keeping profits in town, less “gateway congestion”, vibrant shopping districts…)

    Lauren, maybe your map of AUSD supporting businesses should / could list the parcel owners, but I caution you about the list you started because so few “supporting businesses” are listed. It may give the wrong impression…

    It is interesting to compare that satellite map which is a newer shot of Alameda Point, Landing, Bayport etc, than the image that the City uses for Alameda Point which shows the old base housing. It is an interesting comparison. Also your newer shot shows the roof membrane coming off the building housing the museum at the corner of Ferry Point and Tower. I hope that has been taken care of, or will be taken care of before the rains return.

    EJK – “Certain maritime/light industrial buildings on the North Shore have returned tax figures of $40,000 and $300,000 annually. ”

    This confuses me unless it is not related to M”H” which has a $9,000 annual cap, doesn’t it? Isn’t that part of the root of this fiasco?

    No doubt now, how poorly this Measure was written – Somehow it should be corrected. And I certainly don’t want the chief author of the Measure to be elected to AUSD BOE.
    What kind of CFO or Superintendant would overlook this cesspool of an issue and want to help take the reigns of our school district with this going on?

    This is a major problem with ‘closed-door politics’ which is how this M”H” was put together.

    Is there any way our community can pull together and get a better, replacement measure on the next ballot? Does anyone know the time table or deadlines that would have to be met?

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 22, 2008 @ 4:26 pm

  69. Oh 67, well, as long as you heard all that then it must be true.

    Just so you now, I’ve heard all kinds of crazy rumors about stuff I know isn’t even close to the truth about what parcel owners will be paying.

    But there are some things I’ve heard that I’m pretty sure actually are true.

    Last spring I heard what would happen to the schools and the town if H didn’t pass.

    I heard that the voters of Alameda decided we should prevent that.

    I heard it was a landslide of 67% to 33%.

    I heard most voters paid enough attention to what was going on where they live or do business and/or read enough and/or talked to enough people to know what they were voting for.

    Comment by Reading is Fundamental — August 22, 2008 @ 4:33 pm

  70. RiF: “Last spring I heard what would happen to the schools and the town if H didn’t pass.”

    Yet the State is yet to pass a budget, so in reality we STILL don’t know what would happen if we did not provide more funding for AUSD.

    Obviously you heard, and we all acted on rumor and supposition, coupled with the fact that AUSD is habitually underfunded by the state.

    I want a better funded School District in Alameda. I voted for M”H”, AND I complained then that M”H” was poorly written, that there should have been community involvement, and that there were other motives at play guiding those who put this together. (The authors were/are intent on preserving their neighborhood small school which is cost prohibitive to operate; it costs far above the average elementary school student allotment so it ‘encroaches’ on the education dollar of our other students.)

    MH STINKS, but it was too late to make meaningful changes and get it onto the June ballot. It was the only way to insure that AUSD would have sufficient funds this year, yet without an approved State budget we still do not know actual need. Obviously the timing (by the authors) for when it was presented to the public & BOE was not mere chance. As soon as we see a State Budget, M”H” should be changed/improved.

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 22, 2008 @ 5:59 pm

  71. David, did you know there is a corporation, whose property management company is in San Diego, that owns 70 acres (45 parcels) in Marina Village and their tax for Measure H will be
    $ 325,000. per year for the next four years. Do the math, do you honestly believe they would not challenge this? The author of this fiasco should be held accountable and the AUSD should immediately withdraw the Measure and work with the community on a new tax before spending thousands on legal fees.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 22, 2008 @ 6:24 pm

  72. No, we don’t know what the state budget is going to be.

    If we’re going to change/improve H as you suggest, please let us know how long this recession will last so we’ll know how many more cuts the state will hit us with next year. At this point, it is only a few months until January when Gov is supposed to announce his budget proposal for next year.

    If we end up getting cut 3 mil this year and it looks like we’ll be cut 2 mil more next year because in Sacramento they’re going to end up throwing together a band-aid budget that defers the problems yet again, you’d want to change/improve H so it would raise more money, right? Since you voted for it and everything.

    Comment by Reading is Fundamental — August 22, 2008 @ 6:27 pm

  73. 72 Wait a minute.

    I thought the people behind the suit were upset that the per parcel cap was too low. Now you’re suggesting it is too high. Or is it just that the (uniform) rate of .15 is too high? Or is it that you think it is always wrong to tax on a per parcel basis even though that is exactly what the state tells school districts they must do if they want to raise local revenues? Or is it just that taxes are bad things for huge out of town coroporations sitting on piles of wealth?

    Comment by Reading is Fundamental — August 22, 2008 @ 6:39 pm

  74. # 74..
    What part of “uniform” did you not understand. The California Constitution is very clear on that.Don’t take my word for it look it up for yourself, the don’t call ma the ” Google Girl” for nothing.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 22, 2008 @ 6:50 pm

  75. Well, if you and google say so. There just isn’t any question whatsoever about the interpretation you and google found.

    But, hey, before you crack open the champagne to toast winning the lawsuit to overrturn H, don’t forget that it isn’t only the California Constitution that is so “very clear.” Most laws appear at first glance to be “very clear.” So does the US Constitution. But somehow courts and lawyers seem to manage to find ways to make the seemingly simply quite complex.

    “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech” = very clear, defintely not gonna be any legal question about what that means. No law = no law, right?

    “No State shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” = very clear, not gonna be any legal question about what “eqaul protection” means. Equal is equal, right? Just like “uniform”

    Are you really sure it is a slam dunk, too-self-satisfied-and-too-sure-of-herself-Google-Girl?

    What part of that did you not understand?

    Comment by Reading is Fundamental — August 22, 2008 @ 7:43 pm

  76. I would never call ma the google girl. that’s just….. weird.

    Anyhooo, so lets take that argument about uniform. I suppose by uniform you mean the same, so everyone should get taxed the same. So esplain pleeze how different people are taxed at different rates depending on how much they earn. Say, do you think I have a good lawsuit? Paging Mr. Brilliant, paging Mr. Brilliant.

    Comment by notadave — August 22, 2008 @ 7:49 pm

  77. RiF – Who is “sitting on piles of wealth?” If you are suggesting they should sell some of their property to pay property tax, you my friend must be on the side of repealing Prop 13, so that more and more Californians can be forced to sell their property to pay their property tax. Are you talking about Catellus to whom the city gave 70 acres of waterfront property to develop?

    Let’s take a short historical review:
    Local taxes used to pay for local education.
    The State said the education delivery was not uniform enough throughout the state so they took all the locally raised school taxes, redistributed the wealth so to speak, and then began to reduce the relative education delivery services because they could not keep up with the cost of education increases. (Inflation and government mandated new programs).
    Then the State sells us on the idea of a “lottery” to benefit education, and the citizens begrudgingly approve the beginning of “legalized gambling” for the sake of improving our education system.
    The State gives the lottery money to the schools and takes back an equal sum so that we have state sanctioned gambling, but no education improvements, but lots of “saved taxed collected money”.
    As the education system further declines, localities again begin taxing themselves for their local schools.
    Then the state looks at what areas approve local school taxes and will provide those areas with less education dollars that were raised statewide.

    Are we establishing a cycle here, do you see the pattern?

    While we cannot repeal Prop 13 wholesale, perhaps some adjustments should be discussed. While Piedmont has incredibly high school parcel taxes there are many many homes that are “family homes” that have been in the family for generations. A friend of mine just inherited a home worth over $1.2M, but assessed at $70k and his Oakland Hills home that he purchased in the 70’s is only assessed at $64k. That is a very different situation than other pre and mid-dotcom boom buyers who are barely staying afloat despite the fact that their homes have doubled in value.

    Taxes can not be designed to remove people from their homes. The successful intention of Prop 13 was to enable home buyers to predict and plan for their real estate tax burden. As the present housing market decline demonstrates, only a small percentage of our population are affluent enough to keep up with the drastic home price escalation we have gone through. Without Prop 13 a larger percent of CA homeowners would have been unable to afford the tax increases on the value of their homes, especially when assessments are based on such fictitious valuations.

    Recent reports show that Bay Area homes have dropped 30% in value during the last year. Most home owners use their homes to live in, not as financial tools, and in that light homes do not change value until sold. Maybe for residential parcels, Prop 13 should only protect primary residences and not investment property.

    I’m not sure what to suggest about Prop 13 and commercial property. I wonder what the effects of Prop 13 are for long term commercial property owners like George of Pillow Park Plaza, or Pauline’s Antiques.

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 23, 2008 @ 10:12 am

  78. It’s easy to identify the businesses who would be hurt the most by Measure H. They are the mom and pop businesses that have the largest square footage and no special cap like Safeway and Borders. Thomsen’s Nursery for instance will be billed an insane amount of additional tax. Not only is this tax unfair by pitting business owners against homeowners but it also allows those big corporate businesses a stop gap not available to everyone. It’s easy for those of us who only have to shoulder the set homeowner’s fee to say “how dare they go against the schools?” It’s not that these businesses don’t support the schools, it’s that with the downturn in the economy, sales are way down, and most independent business owners can ill afford the added burden of these taxes which will amount to several thousand additional dollars for some of them a year. I personally know the Georges of Pillow Park and others who want to fight Measure H. They have been tireless supporters of many of the non-profits in town and have always been ready to lend a helping hand to the schools. It makes me angry that people are attacking them. Measure H was poorly thought out and is unfair to business owners and home owners. Everyone who benefits from the schools should share the responsibility of supporting them. Opposition was a problem for the very reason that people obscure the issue and attack anyone who thought it was a badly thoughtout plan as being anti-education. Naturally business owners were reluctant to oppose it, and many of them did not even know how it would apply to them until it was too late. Of course we all want to support our schools but forcing the bulk of the burden on the mom and pop businesses, those very businesses everyone keeps saying makes Alameda so special, is not only unfair, it’s a big mistake and will drive them away.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — August 23, 2008 @ 10:33 am

  79. Please stop referring to the “businesses” and start using the correct term “commercial property owners”. Most often these are different people – and the ones the “Frankenstein Mob” may “retailiat” against may not be the one’s taking out the lawsuit. (If it is filed.)

    Maybe this is a good time to get more familiar with the owners around town.

    Comment by Dave Kirwin — August 23, 2008 @ 10:50 am

  80. Dave, it is filed and the “FRANKENSTEIN MOB” reared it’s ugly head already yesterday at a local food store, where several people had to witness a shouting match between the proprietor and a very irate Measure H supporter threatening boycott.Unfortunately until this fiasco is solved, there will be those who will lash out at those who disagree with them. Lets try to be civil to each other, there is no need to go after the small business owners, that have nothing to do with this lawsuit.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 23, 2008 @ 11:51 am

  81. R Cobra – you seem to know a hell of a lot about the lawsuit and who is behind it – how about you supply us with a list of who is funding it so we don’t go blaming the wrong people?

    Comment by Still Choosing where I shop... — August 23, 2008 @ 2:01 pm

  82. I don’t know specifically who is filing the lawsuit but I do know that the business owners in Alameda who own their own property are the ones who stand to lose the most. The George’s own the Pillow Park building, Thomsen’s owns their nursery, I believe Paganos owns their building but I’m not sure. If someone owns a building and rents it to a business owner, that business owner does not of course pay the tax. Unfortunately, some of our oldest, landmark businesses are owned by people who also own their buildings. In many cases, they bought years ago when it was more affordable to do so.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — August 23, 2008 @ 2:21 pm

  83. # 82..
    Blame the AUSD for having inept people write Measure H. Had they used the same people that wrote Measure A in 2005, this would never had happen.Why don’t you get in touch with Ron Mooney and ask him. Call these poaple , they will tell you.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 23, 2008 @ 2:55 pm

  84. #83..
    Paganos does not own their buildings, but they pay a hell of a lot of rent and they also have to pay the property taxes. They have what you call a triple lease, rent, insurance and taxes. A lot of commercial property owners do that.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 23, 2008 @ 3:19 pm

  85. There is no “good” outcome to this blight on our community. Perhaps City Council should step in and council. Perhaps they can find a solution other than selling more ‘redevelopment bonds’ to help solve this “blight”.

    I feel sad for the commercial property owners, and despite the BOE members that let MH get written w/o public input and support, I feel horrible for the BOE and their ongoing searchs for Super and Chief Financial Officer.

    Shouldn’t individual CC members get involved talk to both sides and then get together with Brown Act rules intact, and work to get this resolved out of court ASAP? This time with public involvment? I hope they read #56.

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 23, 2008 @ 3:39 pm

  86. David, the Mayor and the City Council are aware whats going on. They should stop hiding underneath their desks, and start to mediate between the two parties.The sooner the better.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 23, 2008 @ 4:03 pm

  87. While I can sympathize with the businesses that are being affected by the tax, we can’t lose sight of the fact that if the parcel tax is thrown out, Alameda kids are once again going to be facing the drastic cuts that were on the board at the time Measure H was passed. Alamedans can rally around our local businesses who are willing to accept this temporary tax. If the tax is repealed, those same businesses may suffer in the long run because the school cuts will make Alameda a less attractive community for residents and will drive higher income consumers, who might shop in the local stores, away.

    This tax isn’t perfect. From what I understand it was drafted over just a few days to meet the filing deadline. And while more community input would have been better, given the time constraints that I understand the drafters were facing, I think they tried in good faith to do the best that they could do.

    So now it’s time for the community to come together. Throwing out the tax might stop the immediate hit to local businesses, but our kids are going to pay the price in the process. So I’d encourage the local business community to stop this lawsuit and put the funds they will be spending on Mr. Brillant’s legal fees into a campaign to support local businesses by shopping Alameda. All of us will win that way.

    Comment by June Cleaver — August 23, 2008 @ 5:14 pm

  88. # 88..
    It’s not the business community that is behind this lawsuit, it’s the commercial property owners.Are you willing to pay the same amount of taxes as the commercial property owners, then step right up to the plate and pay $0.15 per sq.ft. on your property.I can guarantee you, if you are faced with thousands of additional dollars each year for the next four years,you would be changing your attitude, as many have, after educating them self about this unfair and illegal tax.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 23, 2008 @ 5:39 pm

  89. Is the $0.15 per square foot on the building size or the lot size? If the same per foot tax was levied on all parcels regardless of classification, would the measure be more likely to withstand a legal challenge? If the upper and lower limits per parcel were applied to all property would that have helped?

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — August 23, 2008 @ 6:06 pm

  90. It is a shame that it is too late to put this issue on this next BOE mtg.

    It seems a simple resolution by the BOE could end this mess.

    As Barbara June suggests, this measure was put on the ballot prematurely, just to have something for the ballot. Now we, the community, through our representatives on the BOE cam require a motion to re-evaluate the measure with public participation with the goal of getting an amenable measure on the November ballot. We could request the suit’s plaintives cease legal action to see if we meet this goal.

    I am sure that with public participation we can come to terms with a Measure that is better for the entire community. This could be a wonderful exercise with doing good by doing what is right. Legal or not is not the way to evaluate what is right and just.
    The same can be said for many things – It is legal to try to sneak major changes to Alameda without citizen involvement or participation, but it is not right.

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 23, 2008 @ 6:18 pm

  91. #89 — While you are correct that it is the property owners who are taxed, in some cases, that tax may be passed on to commercial tenants, depending on the term of the lease. So some commercial property owners are indifferent to the tax whereas the tenant business owner may be the party that is actually responsible for paying the tax.

    It is my understanding that some of the parties that are financing this lawsuit are both property and business owners. In any event, my main point remains the same. I still believe that the business community in Alameda has a stake in getting this issue resolved in a manner that doesn’t hurt our kids or our community. While there is no doubt that times are tough all over, the business community does have a financial stake in ensuring that our local schools are good. If our schools are bad or if residents percieve lawsuit proponents as acting in a manner that will harm our community, residents with the ability to patronize local businesses will shop elsewhere.

    With respect to your question as to whether I would be willing to pay $.15/sq. ft on my property, the answer is yes I would. I think it would be a reasonable price to pay to maintain the quality of our schools.

    And despite your implication that I don’t know about the effect or legality of the tax, I am confident that I am sufficiently familiar with both.

    #91 — You mischaracterize what I said. I do not believe that the measure was put on the ballot prematurely. I believe that the measure needed to go on the June ballot and that the parties did the drafters did the best that they could given that they only had a few days to draft it.

    With respect to your suggestion that we try again with a new, improved measure, I’d be all for that, but I fear that you’re being overly optimistic about the likelihood that a new measure would pass. To the best of my recollection, you stated on this blog that you did not volunteer to get Measure H passed, but hundreds of volunteers put in countless hours and gave generously to get Measure H passed. Some people literally put their jobs and family obligations on hold for months to work for Measure H. As you know, even with all that work, the measure surpassed the 2/3 threshhold by only the slimmest of margins. The next time — if there is a next time — I expect that a new measure will run into voter, volunteer and donor fatigue that will make reaching the 2/3 threshhold a much more difficult proposition.

    That being said, I would very much like to see all the interested parties reach a mutually agreeable resolution. With this lawsuit, our community is recklessly running toward a cliff. I have heard several anecdotes of angry confrontations in recent days between critics of Measure H (who were both commercial property owners and business owners) and people who believe that Measure H is the only thing that will prevent devastation of our schools. It’s obviously a highly emotional issue on both sides, but I view the lawsuit as a dangerous game of “chicken” for our community and our kids. No one — except perhaps Mr. Brillant and his firm — is going to win if this lawsuit proceeds.

    Comment by June Cleaver — August 23, 2008 @ 9:08 pm

  92. Barbara,

    The group that put the wording together for Measure H together had weeks or months, not days, to put it together – Please be honest, there is a big difference.

    There was plenty of time to appeal for public support, concerns, or written contributions before submitting the Measure as written to the BOE, which they did just days before the Measure had to go to the County.

    The Gov’s preliminary budget came out in January, AUSD had until March (7th?) to submit “Measure” to the County to get it on the ballot. It was presented to the BOE and public on March 4th.

    That group (!) chose to not get public consent or input on wording. At one of their meetings where some BOE members were invited as well as a union rep and a few others, (like Garamendi’s daughter and Perata’s daughter?), the PTA Council rep was told if she wanted to have a say she should have pony’ed up. (Meaning she should have helped finance the movement and contributed to the consulting firm hired for the movement.) This was not a public movement so much as a private action headed up by Ron Mooney, and it appears that his manipulation of the public has backfired. For me even without knowing the questionable legal standing of the measure, the process was wrong. When almost every person involved in the closed authorship group was from Franklin School, and the highest priority for measure H spending submitted to the BOE was to ‘Save Small schools”, clearly things were amiss from the start, and there was more than one motive at work.

    You stated “I view the lawsuit as a dangerous game of “chicken” for our community and our kids”, well clearly many other felt the same about M”H”, and we still don’t know if the cuts to AUSD programs would be necessary even without the parcel tax because a final State budget is yet to be determined.

    It is obvious and undeniable that public awareness and input should be a part of anything this important to our community. While this is the worst time for our commercial property owners to do this legal action because of the ongoing search for new AUSD Super, CFO and BOE members, I certainly do not fault just those who filed the lawsuit; 50% of the blame stays with those who forced the wording of this measure by not making it possible for meaningful public input. When it comes time to elect new school board members, I know who will not have my support because of the closed methods employed to create the M”H” language. The ‘blame’ for this ill-timed fiasco falls both ways.

    I hope some worthy of a CC or BOE vote, or other civic/community/school leaders begin to discuss a way to end this conflict. I do believe our community can come together to work out a plan to place a replacement measure on the Nov ballot.

    While it is true that voter fatigue and precinct worker burnout are real issues, a replacement Measure will not take nearly as much effort, and a lowering & equalizing tax measure will still fill the same economic void that was being threatened in January, because the State seems to have decreased the amount of cuts that was being suggested 8 months ago.

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 23, 2008 @ 11:51 pm

  93. Are you ever going to answer my question about the payoffs you received from right wing foundations trying to help them set up charters in Alameda? I asked you many times last spring and yet you’ve never answered. Since you never answered my question, it must be true that you got the payoffs.

    Are you still getting the payoffs?

    Is that who is behind the anti-H lawsuit?

    Are they paying you more to try again to destroy AUSD financially so your right wing charter buddies can swoop in and try to save the day?

    Comment by Otis Campbell — August 24, 2008 @ 6:55 am

  94. Mr. Kirwin,

    If you are implying that June Cleaver is me, I assure you it is not.

    Comment by Barbara M — August 24, 2008 @ 7:54 am

  95. #92..
    I think you should start a campaign to amend Measure H. Just think about it, all property regardless of size or use will pay $0.15 per sq.ft. AUSD would be the richest school district in the nation. Just think what all this money could buy, school lunches catered by Chez Panisse, a vacation island in the Caribbean for teachers (adults only of course), a new house for the Superintendent with all expenses paid ,of course… I am just kidding, but just because you are willing and able to pay this kind of money, not everybody is. There are plenty of Alamedans who live from paycheck to paycheck and can ill afford an increase of $100. per month on their property taxes.But you have a valid point, making everybody pay the same will make the Measure “uniform”. No more lawsuit, everybody is happy!!

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 24, 2008 @ 8:39 am

  96. #95..
    I was wondering, where all the people associated with the AUSD where hiding. Before the election they where all writing in this blog promoting the Measure and urging everybody to vote for it.It’s nice to see, that they are at least interested to see, what people are saying. Are you worried that Franklin school might have to be closed ? Heaven forbid, they tear it down and build low income housing right next to your home!!(Island High all over again).

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 24, 2008 @ 8:56 am

  97. I read over the complaint (I am not an attorney) and apparently a number of issues are involved. It not only has to do with different rate structures, but also exemptions. From what I can tell, the complaint is not only that there are different rate structures for residential and commercial, but also that within commercial there are top and bottom limitations. Also, there is a senior exemption for residential and not one for commercial. Also, the senior exemption requires that positive action be taken by the person seeking the exemption. Anyway, that is what I gleaned from it. This could be a landmark case that decides what “uniform” means when applied to parcel taxes. What a mess.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — August 24, 2008 @ 10:24 am

  98. #96 Commercial property owners in this town are not living paycheck to paycheck. Most can afford this and if there are some for whom it is a particular hardship, the community can rally around them and increase support for their businesses or tenants’ businesses during this four year period. People who voted for Measure H want to do this — why is this being rejected? A lawsuit is a big mistake and is turning so many people off. It’s going to backfire on them, no matter what the legal outcome. This is the worst publicity possible for Alameda’s business community (regardless of who is actually behind the suit). Bad move.

    Comment by As you sow, so shall you reap — August 24, 2008 @ 10:39 am

  99. #93 — Barbara is telling the truth. She and I are not the same. I had nothing to do with drafting Measure H. (Nor did any member of my family.) But I have spoken with lots of people I know and trust who were involved in drafting Measure H. They were there. You are basing your statements on complete speculation. Your theories were debunked during the campaign and I don’t understand the point of reopening the issue now. Will reopening this debate make the lawsuit go away?

    #96 — Let me make it clear that I’m not adverse to amending Measure H. As I said in a previous post, I would support an amended parcel tax measure. I’m just concerned that getting a new measure passed will be extremely difficult and that withour Measure H our kids and schools will take a real hit. I think that everyone in Alameda has an interest in making sure that out schools don’t face the drastic cuts that will happen without the Measure H funds. Your champagne and caviar analogy has nothing to do with the real harm that will be caused if the Measure H funds are not available.

    And with respect to your earlier suggestions (#64) that the $.15 was unknown to the community at the time of the election, I’d like to point out that the front page of the same issue of the Alameda Journal noted the commerical component of Measure H ( and on May 26, the Journal published an article entitled “Measure H a Big Concern for Business” ( So the issues that you now complain were somehow hidden at the time that Measure H was passed were, if fact, known to the community. Despite this information, the community spoke by a more than 2/3 margin.

    Comment by June Cleaver — August 24, 2008 @ 11:07 am

  100. # 100..
    I am glad we agree one at least one thing, amend the Measure, make everybody pay the same ($120 per year or $0.15 per sq.ft.)and you will have my support. As I suggested earlier, lets get the City involved and get the plaintiff and his attorney to meet with the AUSD. The solution is quite simple, withdraw the Measure, write a new one, that’s fair to everyone, and you will have a win,win situation.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 24, 2008 @ 11:49 am

  101. Once this matter became pending (and now) ongoing litigation, it is inappropriate for Board members and staff to comment publicly on this matter.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — August 24, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

  102. The only speculation in Post #93 is that Barbara Mooney is hiding behind “June Cleaver”, but that is a non-issue.

    The formulation of M”H” was clearly a private, closed affair.

    The members of K.A.S.E. (Ron Mooney (Treasurer) ,Bill Sonneman, Genet Garamendi, Andy Currid, Becca Rosati, and Brooke Briggance) unquestionably chose not to seek public approval, concerns or other potentially beneficial input. I am sure they had their reasons, and now we see the blowback of that decision.

    As for the actual authorship we at least have this clue:
    1. Oh, and one very final comment to Dave Kirwin.
    I can’t give you every name of the people who worked on the parcel tax language. But I can tell you that one of the people who was very instrumental in writing it was my mother, Brooke Briggance, Executive Director of the Alameda Education Foundation.
    Comment by Ian Merrifield — March 11, 2008 @ 10:29 pm

    Withdrawing the Measure is still not an intelligent option, but working on a substitute Measure would be, and with passage of a better, more equitable measure “H” would become void. Drafters should of course work publicly for drafting the Measure, pulling the community together. Unfortunately it should only deal with resolving the current issue for easy passage. Unless the State changes its school funding formulas, our community will have to pass n new measure in just a few years and both current parcel taxes for AUSD end in 2012. Since AUSD is required to have 3-year budgets approved by county, by 2010 we will have to tell them how 2013-2014 school year will be funded despite the loss of both Measure “A” and Measure “H” or its replacement. It is a sure bet that AUSD will have to come back to us again for a better tax for our school district.

    It is also likely that the State will continue to fall further behind in sufficiently funding AUSD, making economics the biggest factor in the future of educational delivery in Alameda.

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 24, 2008 @ 12:46 pm

  103. Did you know, it is against the law for school boards to discuss school business behind closed doors??? It seems they don’t mind breaking the law!!!!!!

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 24, 2008 @ 12:57 pm

  104. R.C. – Brown Act allows ‘closed sessions’ for a variety of purposes including dealing with litigation.

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 24, 2008 @ 1:12 pm

  105. This is a very informative discussion and it has clarified many issues, especially #25 and #51 regarding the specific terms and application of the tax. One thing to stress, tho: I don’t see that it makes much sense to distinguish between a property owner and a tenant where the tax burden is concerned — if the owner can pass on the tax, then it’s the tenant who’s getting hit. It seems a bit unrealistic to say that this is not harmful or unfair to small businesses.

    And what about renters? If the landlord is paying .15 per sf on the LAND, not the building, then this could add up to a lot of money — will renters get socked w/ this? Meanwhile, the folks in the fancy victorians with all the frills pay $120 a year?? I’m a bit annoyed, looking back at all the moaning and groaning over the measley amount of $120 a year, which was little more than a sideshow. If my apt. alone were taxed at .15 per sf (625 sf), that works out to about $93 per yr — for the land I’m sitting on.

    If I had to pay a portion of the tax on the entire property then it has to come to far more than that. Our “apt complex” consists of four little cottages, two units each, on a fairly spacious lot, so figure there’s a lot of land per tenant. It will be interesting if the renters in Alameda, people who are clearly less well off than the homeowners, wind up paying more for MH. And of course, there’s no rent control in Alameda, and rents generally are rising across the Bay Area, as demand for rentals went up since the real estate crash.

    My landlord mentioned to me, incidentally, that he’d get hit with a huge tax on the land here, I don’t recall the exact figure tho. At a minimum, if it’s half an acre, that’s ~22,000 sf x .15 = $3300 a year / 8 units = $412 a unit. This includes one unit w/ an elderly couple — will they be exempted?(!!)

    If you will, please tell me if I’m really understanding this or not. Thanks.

    Comment by DL Morrison — August 24, 2008 @ 1:25 pm

  106. Measure H has the features described in 98. But, as I suggested in 76, the Borikas case is weaker legally than Google Girl and other anti-H folks seem to think.

    Even with its various components, H appears still to be “uniform.”

    As we saw in 41-42-43 of “Depends on what ‘is’ is,” the “uniformity rule” requires that similar properties must be taxed similarly. But it also allows dissimilar properties to be taxed differently.

    The legal history of Prop 13 itself demonstrates the concept that, “equality” or “uniformity” does not require that everything be exactly the same.

    Taxes are not uniform under Prop 13 in the sense that not every residential or commercial property pays the same amount as every other. They are uniform in that properties in the same category as one another are taxed “uniformly” so that one 2000 sq. ft house bought in 1980 is taxed the same as another next door of the same size purchased at the same time. But (as many Alamedans know all too well) a 2000 sq. ft. house right next door on the other side that was purchased in 2004 is taxed quite differently from the other two purchased in 1980. And so on. The taxes paid by property owners vary greatly (and, arguably, quite unfairly). But that doesn’t make Prop 13 illegal or unconstitutional.

    Likewise, for a tax to be “uniform” legally, all that must be shown is that similar properties are taxed similarly. They are under H.

    If a K-12 school has a uniform uniform policy, it may be that kindergarteners have different uniforms from the 6th graders and from the 12th graders. But the dress code is uniform even though there may be slightly different rules for different categories of students.

    So, apart from (1) the seemingly precarious political stance of trying to get a do-over by throwing out an election result that won overwhelmingly 67% to 33% on the grounds that they were irresponaible and didn’t do their homework and pay attention before the election and (2) the seemingly suicidal economics involved (falling sales tax for the city, damaged business reputations, possible buycotts or boycotts, huge legal costs to the anti-H camp as the pro-H people rally to fight this) and (3) the moral burden that will fall on the backers of the suit when/if the schools have to make terrible cuts that hurt children and hurt the community as a whole because of this case, pushing forward with the Borikas case appears to (4) carry a significant legal risk for the anti-H folks as well.

    Comment by Reading is Fundamental — August 24, 2008 @ 1:30 pm

  107. I agree with June. The business owners’ claims that they “didn’t know about the commercial component” of the parcel tax are ridiculous. This was a widely publicized campaign. Both newspapers covered it, as did all the local blogs. And — as with all ballot measures — its full text was included in election materials sent to PEOPLE’s HOMES, posted on local websites (including the KASE website), and printed in materials that went out to parents at the schools.

    If business people didn’t understand the tax, they weren’t paying attention to a very, very important issue in this community.

    I also can’t understand why the business people didn’t organize to run a fair campaign against the tax this spring. They could have done everything KASE did — print up pamphlets, make signs, go door to door, etc. Instead, they stayed silent until the people voted, then decided to sue after the fact — thus making it impossible for the people in this community to have any say or choice in the matter.

    And then you wonder why people are angry?

    I also agree with June that there has to be a better way. Maybe a huge “shop local campaign.” Maybe an amendment to the Measure (although I’m not clear on how or when this would work). Anything would be better than suing a school district that serves 10,000 children and their families; that has already suffered $7 million in cuts in 7 years; that was facing $4 million in state funding cuts as of January; that is currently searching for a new superintendent AND a new CFO; in a school board election year.

    I mean, c’mon. Before you cry, “we didn’t know and that’s not fair and so now we’re going to sue you but don’t blame us” think about the consequences of your actions here.

    Comment by Wants a Better Solution — August 24, 2008 @ 1:33 pm

  108. The “Save the Children” emotional plea is getting a bit old — at least as a means of deflecting any and all legitimate complaints about MH. It should be possible to have a reasonable and objective discussion about the fairness of the resulting tax burden.

    Comment by DL Morrison — August 24, 2008 @ 1:46 pm

  109. #109 The children have to be involved in this conversation. The business owners are suing a school district. The children will be affected.

    As for “reasonable and objective discussion”–it’s not happening on this blog. I see an incredible amount of confusion here about the nature of school boards, tax law, even the difference between KASE and AUSD — as well as the usual baseless and reckless allegations issued by David Kirwin. Emphasis on baseless. And reckless.

    Again — I hope and pray wiser minds will come up with an alternative to a lawsuit, for the sake of our entire community. Alameda is the perfect town for a big shop local campaign — let’s go for it.

    Comment by Wants a Better Solution — August 24, 2008 @ 1:57 pm

  110. Thanks, Morrison (any relation to Jim?)

    I’m also sick of emotional appeals about kids. Kids should learn to toughen up. And if they get upset when they get back to school and hear about this and then try to do another walk out or something like they did last spring, let’s shut them down. Do they think we’re going back to 60’s or something?

    I’m with you. Don’t think or talk about about the kids!

    I think I might have a better slogan than that 60’s-sounding “Save the Children” stuff.

    Save a Few Members the Propertied Class Who Have the “Misfortune” of Owning Too Much Property (Most of Which is Taxed Relatively Modestly by Prop 13)!

    Comment by Uniformly Yoko — August 24, 2008 @ 2:02 pm

  111. I’m sure you all remember the helicopters overhead, when with the encouragement of the principal and teachers, Encinal High students marched down to protest in front of the old Alameda High. Also Brooke Biggance kids in garbage cans on Park Street. The merchants felt intimidated then, as they are now.There was a meeting two weeks before the election between Daley, Schaff and other school board members and a handful of commercial property owners.It was held at the Lutheran Church on Santa Clara. The meeting was held on very short notice, I only was told 3 hours before. In that meeting and in front of the local press, Bill Schaff admitted to all, that the Measure was not fair.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 24, 2008 @ 2:10 pm

  112. #112, So…rather than come out publicly against the measure during the campaign, you decided to sue the district after the election was over? Which would allow you all to hide your identities behind one plaintiff?

    Interesting strategy. But I can’t respect that way of doing business (or undoing an election).

    Also, as I recall, the AEF garbage can campaign wasn’t the Measure H campaign. The garbage can campaign was a donation drive for AEF — in response to the state budget cuts. (Did you know budget cuts were threatened?)

    And those kids walking out of the classrooms? They also weren’t advocating for Measure H. No, they were protesting the governor’s budget cuts, too.

    Must have been pretty “intimidating” if you had no idea what was going on.

    But in the long run, it’s a shame you weren’t following the issues at the time–it was pretty exciting. And your confusion is creating quite a mess for this community.

    Comment by Wants a Better Solution — August 24, 2008 @ 2:25 pm

  113. Here is something else that is not fair – I use my real name, I post the truth as I understand it, I even post supporting information. Yet some here who hide their identities charge that my statements are ‘baseless’, but will not even say which statement they claim is baseless.

    If you think I am mistaken, okay, perhaps I am, but show something that supports your claim. I don’t claim to be perfectly knowledgeable, but I do lay out the facts as I see them. Show me my error if you want credibility.

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 24, 2008 @ 2:31 pm

  114. Your baseless assertion: That the people who wrote Measure H did so to keep Franklin open.

    You have never been able to prove that and yet you keep saying it, over and over and over…even as you beg someone to tell you who wrote the Measure.

    If you don’t know who wrote the measure, how do you know what their motives are?

    Comment by Wants a Better Solution — August 24, 2008 @ 2:34 pm

  115. #113..
    Isn’t it refreshing that the school board is finally joining in on this conversation , even if they don’t reveal their true identities!!!

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 24, 2008 @ 2:38 pm

  116. No, R. Cobre, I’m not a member of the school board. Not even close.

    Just an interested community member who was actually tracking the events this spring.

    Comment by Wants a Better Solution — August 24, 2008 @ 2:42 pm

  117. I imagine that is the only claim you can make as far as a potentially baseless statement, yet I have not made that statement on this blog thread, have I?

    But I did point out the inaccurate statements By June Cleaver (the lack of identity further masks the lack of integrity) – there was plenty of time to seek public input, but meaningful input was not allowed. Even my little posts rallied up the ‘Frankenstein Mob’, prior to the election. It is little wonder why businesses decided to shield themselves behind a lawyer. Perhaps they did so before the election, we would not know if the BOE was informed this would happen, because they would not make it public. Perhaps it was the “Let’s teach transgender tolerance to k-5 that made others reconsider, who knows?

    As far as our established businesses that own their parcels and their buildings, they are likely also saving a bundle on their Prop 13 protected parcels. Sometimes I wonder…

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 24, 2008 @ 2:57 pm

  118. #107
    “Likewise, for a tax to be “uniform” legally, all that must be shown is that similar properties are taxed similarly. They are under H.”

    That is what the court will determine. Just as the School Board has the right to place this piece of legislation on the ballot, a member of the public has the right to challenge its legality in the courts. That is how the American system works through checks and balances. I find it disturbing that those in a relatively small community seek to demonize each other for using their constitutional rights.

    “The children have to be involved in this conversation.” How about all those unborn taxpayers? Who speaks for them? I’ve decided that I do.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — August 24, 2008 @ 3:08 pm

  119. #112 — I don’t see anything wrong with making merchants who support this lawsuit realize that there will be consequences. Since you’ve pegged me as having deeper pockets than other Alamedans, I’m exactly the type of person merchants should not be alienating. Assuming you’re correct and that I have the ability to spend my money with local merchants, I will spend my money where I want. I will not patronize any business that supports this lawsuit. I will go out of my way to patronize merchants who openly support this measure even if it costs me more than the alternatives. In fact, I just returned from a trip to Park St. and stopped by Tucker’s and Books, Inc. and felt great about giving them my business because they have stepped forward to support the schools.

    And although you claim the tax is not fair, the election was fair. The effect on the business community was openly noted. Nevertheless, the vast majority of Alamedans supported this measure, including many merchants and commercial property owners. Now a few people are now trying to squelch the will of the people by filing a lawsuit, which if it succeeds, will save them some money on the backs of our kids by eviscerating our schools. If they’re willing to go down that road, they certainly have that right, but they also need to be prepared to deal with the consequences.

    Comment by June Cleaver — August 24, 2008 @ 3:08 pm

  120. #119. “How about all those unborn taxpayers? Who speaks for them? I’ve decided that I do.”

    Wait. What??

    Comment by Wants a Better Solution — August 24, 2008 @ 3:11 pm

  121. It was Bill Schaff who said the tax is not fair. Funny how things get twisted. As I recall, it was you who volunteered to pay the $0.15 per sq. ft. on your property, which I think is commandable. We need more people like you to step up to the plate.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 24, 2008 @ 3:18 pm

  122. #120..
    I forgot, please give my best to the Beaver, Wally and Ward.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 24, 2008 @ 3:20 pm

  123. #118 — check out #71 and #93. And the dozens of words to that effect that you posted during the Measure H campaign.

    C’mon. You know you’ve been alleging this for months.

    But this is a side issue and one I’m not willing to spend time on.

    Comment by Wants a Better Solution — August 24, 2008 @ 3:20 pm

  124. #119 — You’re absolutely correct that the lawsuit proponents have a right to challenge the measure. But just because a right exists does not necessarily mean that it can or should be exercised. I have a First Amendment right to picket in front of the businesses of merchants who are supporting this lawsuit or the Plaintiff’s home, but I’m not going to exercise that right because I don’t think that it would be in the best interest of the community. Right now I think that what is in the best interest of the community is to stop the madness and the diviseness that is being generated because of this lawsuit.

    Comment by June Cleaver — August 24, 2008 @ 3:28 pm

  125. Unborn taxpayers? It’s a four year tax that (clearly) will never be renewed in its current form.

    Comment by Reading is Fundamental — August 24, 2008 @ 3:29 pm

  126. 119 Um, yeah, I know that’s why we have courts.

    My point is that Google Girl’s self-satisfaction about her google-based certainty about the law may be misplaced. And Mr. Brillant’s talk of a legal “slam dunk” is reckless and wrong.

    And if the Borikas Crew (whoever they are — and hey, Kirwin, for the sake of consistency, would you please start reaming them for being anonymous because they’re about to kick off a civil war in Alameda and it might be nice to know who they are so some of who don’t want that to happen could try to talk to them) thinks this case is going to glide through the courts to an easy victory so they can proclaim Mission Accomplished, they want to think again.

    As I said in 107, pushing forward with the Borikas case appears to carry a significant legal risk for the anti-H folks. That’s all.

    Comment by Reading is Fundamental — August 24, 2008 @ 4:01 pm

  127. RIF: 127?
    “and hey, Kirwin, for the sake of consistency, would you please start reaming them for being anonymous because they’re about to kick off a civil war in Alameda ”

    Would that be “Pot, Kettle, Black, …glass houses, or resonable citizens with integrity setting an example?”

    Comment by Dave Kirwin — August 24, 2008 @ 4:40 pm

  128. You tell me. You’re the one trippin’ with allegations about secret meetings and plots n’ stuff.

    Comment by Reading is Fundamental — August 24, 2008 @ 4:48 pm

  129. #127
    “they’re about to kick off a civil war in Alameda”

    Good lord, if this is what will happen over a school parcel tax, just wait until Measure A goes on the ballot. There won’t be a single resident or business left standing.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — August 24, 2008 @ 4:51 pm

  130. #130..
    just think what would happen if they build low income houses in the “Gold Coast” next to Ron Mooneys house (Franklin School). The AUSD people will march on city hall with helicopters looming overhead. We will be on national news!!!On a more serious note,can anyone tell me, why all you pro Measure H people have not even thought about how this tax will affect the 700-800 elderly nursing home patients in Alameda? A nursing home is a commercial business and will have to pay the parcel tax per sq.ft.Do you honesty believe, the owners will absorb this outrageous cost and not pass it on to the patients? Most are already on SSI and can ill afford the burden, especially since the people in Sacramento can’t agree on a budget and there has been no money send to pay their cost.Will we throw the elderly under the bus and sacrifice them for our kids?

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 24, 2008 @ 5:53 pm

  131. EVERYBODY … just take a deep breath 🙂

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — August 24, 2008 @ 6:51 pm

  132. #131 Using Cardinal Point as an example of your “think of the seniors” approach, I figure the extra amount of tax they would have to pay comes out to about $130 per residential unit. Given that is cots about $130 per day to live there, an extra 35 cents per day probably isn’t going to end up throwing all the seniors out into the street.

    Comment by notadave — August 24, 2008 @ 7:07 pm

  133. #133 — Good point notadave.

    I don’t want to see seniors hurt either, but I did some math myself. If Measure H dollars are taken away from our schools, that works out to about $400 per student per year. For the same $400 in annual costs to be passed down to seniors, each senior would have to occupy more than 2600 square feet — which I would guess is considerably larger than the average single family home in Alameda. I agree it’s a Sophie’s choice that may affect some low income seniors, but it will affect every kid who attends public schools in Alameda.

    Comment by June Cleaver — August 24, 2008 @ 7:21 pm

  134. Isn’t that the wrong math June? But since you are hiding your identity I guess you can say anything…

    For along long time Alameda homes were on a minimum of 5,000 sf lots, many are two or three times that in size or more. More recently a min lot size of 2000 sf was enacted. Even the absolute min lot size would be taxed at $300 with the MH’s $0.15 per sf. Most parcels however would be charged over $1,000 per year. Think that would have passed? Often too, the size of the parcel has nothing to do with the value of the property, or for commercial parcels; little to do with annual revenue. If even AUSD can’t figure out how to intrepret the Measure and how it is meant to be applied, then perhaps it is too subjective to avoid the charge of not being fairly applied.

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 24, 2008 @ 7:41 pm

  135. ANT – I agree.
    #134: This is the point I raised earlier — if the tax per square foot applies to the lot, not just the building sf, then it could definitely add up to a lot of money. The question is, would property owners ultimately pass on this tax to their tenants, seniors or otherwise? For example, I live in a small group of cottages on a fairly large lot — it’s about 2750 sf of lot per unit, which works out to $412 annual taxes per unit. As for whether this was widely discussed before the vote on Measure H — no, it wasn’t. As to whether this is a likely impact — my landlord mentioned recently that he expected to pay “over $12,000” in taxes over the life of MH (and of course it will be continued thereafter). I don’t know whether he’ll pass this on to the tenants or not, but I’m sure some landlords will.

    Comment by DL Morrison — August 24, 2008 @ 7:54 pm

  136. DL – Sometimes it works the other way, where the square footage of the building is greater than that of the lot, it just factors on the number of floors and ratio of building footprint to lot size. I believe Marina Village has a 9 story hotel, and just look at the buildings on Park Street with apartments over retail.

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 24, 2008 @ 8:22 pm

  137. #135 — I’m confused David, hasn’t one of your criticisms of Measure H been that it should have charged more and been permanent? Now you seem to be complaining that Measure H charges too much. Let’s try for a little consistency here.

    And as far as my math goes, I’ll buy your facts that the minimum lot size has to be 2000 sq. feet and that many/most lots are larger. That doesn’t change my point. My point is that any senior who is going to pay $400 in additional annual costs is single-handedly going to be responsible for picking up the costs for a pretty large amount of space (more than 2600 sq. ft) — which is probably not the case for low income seniors.

    #136 — As I understand it, parcels that are designated as residential lots on the Alameda County assessor’s roll will be charged the residential rate of $120/parcel/yr. even if they are rental properties and even if they have multiple units. So are you and your landlord sure that the commercial rate will apply to his/her property? Property designations can be found on the assessor’s website.

    And I don’t know why you say “of course it will be continued thereafter.” It’s a four year tax that would require voter approval to continue. You may think that renewal of the tax would be a sure thing. I’m not as confident.

    Comment by June Cleaver — August 24, 2008 @ 8:24 pm

  138. David — yes, you’re right, and I realize that. My point (made briefly) is that for *some* rental properties, the land area can exceed the building footprint by a considerable amount. Of course, that’s not the case for the apt. bldg. next door to us. And beyond that (as you’ve also said), I don’t think the potential impacts of Measure H were apparent before the vote, and now that they are, it should be possible to address some issues of fairness. I’m not sure who may have foreseen all the impacts, but I’m guessing that tenants (apart from small businesses) probably didn’t. Incidentally, I’m very willing to pay towards the schools, directly or indirectly, I just don’t want to pay more than a homeowner would.

    Comment by DL Morrison — August 24, 2008 @ 8:29 pm

  139. #138 — thanks, I’ll check. I am certain of what my landlord said, so I’m basing my comments on that. He also has a business in town, and a home — his grandmother owned this rental property originally. He’s also one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, so I thought he had some understanding of the issues. All this is based on a brief conversation tho, so perhaps he’s mistaken, or I misunderstood him.

    Comment by DL Morrison — August 24, 2008 @ 8:35 pm

  140. Dear June, at #88, It is not the CPO’s fault that the BOE rushed writing MH, nor should they be responsible for that hugh fincinal error. I work in Alameda in one of “those business”, and I have seen no new faces coming in buying or saying “we are shopping here to support you, because you are supporting our schools”, and they already support the schools in many ways, including property taxes.
    As for supporting the BOE, as a community we should stand behind the BOE, when they have to make the tough decisions instead of riping them apart, and cornering them into making the hugh mistakes. Yes, that means closing schools. It would not the first time, Mastick, Washington, and Franklin have all been closed at one or two times in their history, and may they pick the best teachers, and not the teachers they like the best. No one wants to make that choice, but it is very unfair, and unethical to make the CPO’s foot over 55% of the tax between less then a 1000 properties. While a 1000 residental properties will only pay $120,000.00 for the same amount of buildings.

    Comment by Simply Thuggery — August 24, 2008 @ 8:38 pm

  141. #131, Clearly you don’t know the Mooneys. They’re actually pretty committed to helping people less fortunate than themselves.

    Not sure who you mean by “AUSD people” in your hypothetical situation either — AUSD administrators? Teachers? Parents? Supporters? Do you yourself know what you mean?

    Actually I’ve been pretty shocked at how little you understand about the issues in your posts today. E.g.,you don’t seem to be aware of the context in which Measure H was passed (state budget cuts that threatened to cut $4 million in revenue from AUSD), the players involved (who’s AEF? Who’s KASE? What’s AUSD?) or even why “AUSD people” wouldn’t be able to post on this particular thread.

    And then #140 admits that one of the plaintiffs in the suit also may be “lacking in some understanding of the issue.”

    Yikes. How scary to realize people launch into lawsuits without having the faintest idea what they’re talking about!

    Comment by Wants a Better Solution — August 24, 2008 @ 8:56 pm

  142. Dear June, #92,
    Maybe we should ask the Teachers to take a 0.15/ hour pay deduction to help off set the cost? The BOE could put a cap for the teachers that get paid more $95500.00 / year, I hope that only means the principles to match the way BOE wrote MH for the CP’s. Do you think they would be willing? It is easy to say when you don’t have to pay.

    Comment by Simply Thuggery — August 24, 2008 @ 8:59 pm

  143. Mr. Morrison, You obviously rent from Mr. Jaber. He owns tons of property and has owned it for years. Does your rent reflect the break he gets on his pre-prop 13 tax bill? He and his whole family live in the East End by Edison School. How much more is all that property worth with good schools. Cry me a river!

    Comment by now thats fair taxation — August 24, 2008 @ 9:16 pm

  144. #107 – Hey are you the person who looked over the measure before it was submitted to go to the ballot? Kathy is that you?

    Comment by Simply Thuggery — August 24, 2008 @ 9:23 pm

  145. #107, last paragraph, lets discuss overwhelming. We have 40238 registared voters in Alameda. There were 17594 votes cast, 11,445 yes, and 5,663 no, 486 voters choose not to vote on the issue. 22,644 voters didn’t bother, to me that is not overwhelming. So lets not say overwhelming, say big big big. If the 486 voted on this issue it might not have passed, or it might have passed on a larger draw, but it only passed by 39 votes, that is not huge either.

    Comment by Simply Thuggery — August 24, 2008 @ 9:44 pm

  146. Just for you newbies, we have always had standing unwritten rule to shop in Alameda, to support our town, and it is the small business that have Alameda the place that all of you have wanted to live in, and now I know why the cops use to escort people off the island. I support a tax for the children of alameda, but not this tax or the way it was written, but I do not support tax increase for the over paid school district workers, they should have caps on their salaries.

    Comment by RiffRaff — August 24, 2008 @ 9:57 pm

  147. 67% to 33% is huge and overwhelming. People who choose not to vote don’t count when we talk about election results. That’s the way that voting thing works.

    Using your logic, no one could ever claim moral authority to govern in the US since less than half the people vote on anything (except Presidential elections).

    Is your argument really that the people of Alameda don’t support raising local revenue to protect our schools when the state falls down on the job? That was the issue with H. People “got” the nature of the nasty situation facing the schools due to state cuts that were and are sure to come. And they said “yes, raise our taxes here for a while to stop these cuts.” And more than twice as many said that as didn’t. That’s overwhelming.

    Of course, in every election there are voters who are not fully informed on every nuance of everything they vote on. But we honor and accept their votes anyway. That’s democracy.

    Comment by Reading is Fundamental — August 24, 2008 @ 9:59 pm

  148. #110, in response to #109, if there is a difference between AUSD and KASE, and AEF (lets no forget about Ms. Briggins), then why are the writers of the MH The members of K.A.S.E. (Ron Mooney (Treasurer) ,Bill Sonneman, Genet Garamendi, Andy Currid, Becca Rosati, and Brooke Briggance) as written in #103. I am sure you can see why people confuse the 3 enities involved. I don’t see a BOE in sight! So maybe AUSD should bring a lawsuit against them for writing a bad bill!

    Comment by Simply Thuggery — August 24, 2008 @ 10:08 pm

  149. Dear June, #120
    Maybe after you eat your ice cream from tuckers and get your book, you can head over the little green bridge were your tax dollars will really help the schools of Oakland and the man behind the curtain may give you a heart to open to other people views, a brain to see that the business owners stopped watching “Leave it to Beaver” along time ago. And it is kinda hard to count fincial benefit of “I will try harded to spend my dollars in Alameda”.

    Comment by RiffRaff — August 24, 2008 @ 10:30 pm

  150. 110 Well, as a matter of fact, there are important differences among those three about which it would not be difficult to become educated.

    I think the people who might be confused by the differences (but who nonetheless still haven’t bothered to educate themselves about the differences) but then go ahead and make wild and ridiculous allegations are likely to be the same sort of people who don’t pay attention to issues in upcoming elections and then whine afterwards that no one did their homework for them so they now need a do-over.

    This particular post from the Thug is a good example of a theme or trend that seemed to emerge here today: Many of the anti-H people are just totally misinformed about even the most basic facts about a lot of this. Like not even close to reality.

    As a result, there is a lot of shooting from the hip around all this even though it is now clear that many of those screaming the loudest just don’t know wtf they’re talking about on a very basic level. Is this how the lawsuit started? A bunch of people pissed about the principle of raising revenue locally for schools just started trading misinformation and riled each other up and some sort of mob mentality started without regard to the facts?

    So, Thug, uh, let me try to help you with one thing: The BOE VOTED ON THE BALLOT LANGUAGE AT A PUBLIC MEEETING. Whoever wrote the language, the BOE voted on it (and even changed it). Are they supposed to sue themselves?

    I’m not suggesting the following applies to everyone supporting the lawsuit, but you appear to be typical of the group of anti-H folks who are ignorant about the most basic facts about all this. And that isn’t funny. It’s really scary.

    Comment by Reading is Fundamental — August 24, 2008 @ 10:51 pm

  151. 151 refers to 149 not 100. Sorry about that. Good night.

    Comment by Reading is Fundamental — August 24, 2008 @ 10:52 pm

  152. #151, did I strike a nerve, I was told years ago that typed in caps that meant you were yelling, is that true? And since I am so misinformed what does “wtf” mean? Could it be
    wtf=white toad fur, no
    wtf=willing to fly, no
    wtf=what the forever, yes that must be it!!! ha, ha. It is scary that you think that you can take advantage of people like this that they will sit back quietly and smile, you don’t alameda, and you don’t alamedans

    Comment by simply thuggery — August 24, 2008 @ 11:18 pm

  153. Preliminary population numbers for 2006 were released Tuesday by California’s Department of Finance. The city’s population stands at 75,254.

    11,445 Cared enough about our schools to go out and vote for H. Looks like we have more shoppers than voters who care.

    8 businesses are listed in Lauren’s list of businesses that support our schools.

    I doubt boycott / buycott can amount to a hill of beans, and its silly to think it will affect the decision on the suit.

    I want better funding for our schools, but we have to be realistic, and fair. The public should have been involved from the start,
    We now have to wait for those who can control the situation to do their job, be that the negotiators or the legal system, it is effectively out of our hands. (As if blogging ever has an affect)

    Comment by Dave Kirwin — August 25, 2008 @ 12:17 am

  154. Here is an informational letter being to Alameda residents regarding Measure H.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — August 25, 2008 @ 5:30 am

  155. Thanks Mike.

    Comment by dk — August 25, 2008 @ 6:14 am

  156. DL (#136 and 140) Your landlord was probably taking about all of his properties – commercial and residential, when he was adding up the $12,000, in which case, the guy ain’t poor and should look at buying a very small violin. If he is incorrectly assuming that he is going to be taxed on a commercial basis for residential property, then he is rich and clueless, and I have a bridge he might be interested in.

    Residential property is taxed at 120 regardless of how many units are on it. Refer to the letter from the school district that Mike posted in #155.

    Comment by notadave — August 25, 2008 @ 7:43 am

  157. Based upon the responses in this thread, it appears that the general consensus is as follows:

    If you are well off, nobody cares if the tax is unfair for you … you should just eat it because you are successful. And, if you are a business, we are going to screw you if you question the legality of the tax by boycotting your business because that is the only leverage we have to force your compliance with our desires … we don’t care if you voted for the last two parcel taxes, resistance is futile and you must obey.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — August 25, 2008 @ 8:27 am

  158. And a good morning to all, I find the letter from Ardella Dailey quite interesting, so we finally got an answer, to who pays what. I find it hard to believe, that a mega apartment complex such as South Shore Beach and Tennis will only pay $120. while the Coral Reef Hotel on Park Street, who has housekeeping units for longer staying guests, will pay thousands of dollars per year.I am not sure of the exact amount, but their property is huge.

    California Government Code #50079

    states people SSI recipients are exempt. Why is there a distinction made between SSI and SSDI. Also, why does it have to be a single family residence, does this mean if you live in a condo, your not eligible?
    This brings me right back to the apartment complex question, If you live in an apartment complex with 10 unites the landlord pays $120. on the whole parcel, but if the same complex is converted to condos every owner (10 owners) would pay $120. per unit.Who came up with this ridiculous idea.

    Comment by R. Cobre — August 25, 2008 @ 9:24 am

  159. 159

    Yes it is a ridiculous idea, but it wasn’t AUSD’s idea. Prop 13 & the State’s constitutional prevention of local income & ad valorem taxes is the source. Parcel taxes are the ONLY locally controlled funding allowed for school districts.
    Don’t blame AUSD, blame Prop 13 and centralization.

    Comment by dave — August 25, 2008 @ 9:47 am

  160. SSI vs SSDI

    Also there is not a designation of “single family residence” only that it be your primary residence and not, say, your vacation home or investment property.

    Comment by Lauren Do — August 25, 2008 @ 9:58 am

  161. #160 — Yes. The context for parcel taxes needs to be understood here. Proposition 13 has kept all property taxes — residential and commercial — low for decades. That’s why the state government doesn’t have enough money to provide school districts with the revenue they need to do a good job. And that’s why so many school districts have ended up passing parcel taxes to make up the difference.

    So rather than targeting AUSD (thereby endangering the educational experiences of 10,000 kids and incurring the wrath of the community)why don’t you target Prop 13? That way the commercial property owners would be addressing the true inequities in this system — and making themselves into true local heroes!

    Comment by Wants a Better Solution — August 25, 2008 @ 9:59 am

  162. Let’s pretend for a minute that H was not about something as sensitive as our kids’ education. If H was to buy parking meters for every parking space in Alameda, & your neighbor or your local business person felt it was illegal or unfair or ill-conceived, would you crucify them for saying so?? Isn’t it our right to question? When you get a parking ticket that you feel is unjust, do you say, “That’s ok — I can afford it,” or, “That’s ok — the city needs the money,” and whip out your checkbook? Many of these local businesses are asked by our schools for fund-raising help constantly. Is it too much to ask that these businesses be treated fairly? Now that Ms. Dailey has ruled that apartment complexes are “residential”, do you feel it unjust to pay the same $120 for your home as the giant apartment complex next door? Do you wonder why a small business would feel it unjust to pay proportionately more than a huge chain market? Pre-vote, I had business people tell me they thought they were paying $120, and a school teacher say she thought not voting was the same thing as a “no” vote. Just shows the whole thing’s a bit of a mess. EVERYONE should be upset that they’re not being treated fairly! Starting fresh is not a crazy idea.

    Comment by Born in Alameda — August 27, 2008 @ 3:08 pm

  163. The part of that comment that disturbs me the most was the teacher that thought not voting was a no vote – please tell me he or she doesn’t teach civics.

    Aside from that, there was just whole bunches of misinformation in your post. I won’t go through it all, but regarding the all powerful Ms. Dailey, Ardella doesn’t (or didn’t) set the rules on this. A parcel tax is a tax on parcels, not on units, not on individuals. And that is because the state only allows taxes on parcels So a parcel with multiple units is taxed the same as a parcel with one unit of housing. Don’t like it? Change the state law.

    Comment by notadave — August 27, 2008 @ 4:22 pm

  164. Keeping all parcel taxes uniformly applied, could a parcel tax be worded so that all parcels, residential, commercial or other were charged a set amount (say $120/yr) on a per tenant lease agreement basis rather than a Sq ft rate? This may assist some of the large retail outlets, (although some Big box have inside tenants like food chains or banks renting space) but then apts, would be treated like condos, shopping centers would pay per individual business, but everything seems like it would be on a more even keel.

    Comment by David Kirwin — August 27, 2008 @ 9:46 pm

  165. Oh the “..per lease ” would be an additional $120, – all parcels would pay a min of $120, unless exempted for reasons allowed by tax code…

    Comment by dk — August 27, 2008 @ 9:48 pm

  166. I’m glad to see we are up to 9 PSBA areas bussinesses that support our schools.

    Comment by dk — August 27, 2008 @ 9:50 pm

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