There’s more at stake than who goes to Washington this November.
In communities across the Inland Empire, voters on Nov. 8 will decide who represents them in the House of Representatives and they’ll make their choices for local offices such as city councils and school boards. Many voters will have decisions to make on local measures, as well.
An advisory measure that would permit the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to investigate all options to get the county’s fair share of resources, “up to and including secession” from the state, is getting attention but voters in some communities will also decide whether to raise taxes, impose caps on vacation rentals, approve a school bond and more.
Here’s a look at selected measures referred to voters in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties:
City of Big Bear Lake
Vacation rentals: Measure O would cap the number of vacation rental licenses to 1,500 and limit property owners to 30 vacation rental contracts per year. Currently, the city has about 2,600 vacation rental licenses, which under the measure would expire when a property is sold or transferred. The cap would prevent the city from approving new licenses until they fall below the 1,500 threshold. Under the measure, except for those already approved, businesses would be prohibited from obtaining licenses and no person or personal/family trust would be allowed to have more than one license. A simple majority is needed to approve the measure.
Hotel tax: Measure P would increase the maximum transient occupancy tax, or hotel tax, from 8% to 9% effective Jan. 1, 2024, and from 9% to 10% on Jan. 1, 2025. The tax is charged to operators of lodging businesses. The measure would give the City Council authority to adjust the tax rate without voter approval so long as it does not exceed the maximum rate. The higher rates are expected to generate an additional $1.3 million in hotel tax revenue each year to support general city services. The measure passes with 50% of the vote, plus one vote.
Cannabis tax: The measure would tax cannabis and hemp businesses 4% to 7% of gross receipts for retail businesses, and the higher of 1% to 4% of gross receipts or $1 to $10 per square foot for other businesses, generating an estimated $500,000 annually if cannabis and hemp businesses were to be authorized in the future.
Sales tax: Measure G Would increase the sales tax by 1% to provide an estimated $9.5 million annually to support the city’s general fund. Specifically, the additional revenue is intended to support such services as law enforcement patrols, 911 emergency response, and parks and sidewalks maintenance. The measure passes with 50% of the vote, plus one vote.
Cannabis tax: Measure G would tax commercial cannabis businesses up to 9% of gross receipts for retail sale, up to 7% of gross receipts for manufacturing and distribution, up to 3% of gross receipts for testing laboratories and up to 15% of gross receipts for other commercial cannabis businesses. It is expected to generate about $5 million a year for general use, including as police and emergency response, community services and street repairs.
Hotel tax: Measure M would establish a transient occupancy tax, or hotel tax, with a maximum rate of 10% of the rent charged by an operator of a lodging business. The measure gives the City Council authority to set the rate by resolution, as long as it does not exceed the voter-approved maximum rate. Depending on the rate enacted by the council, the tax is expected to generate $10,000 to $250,000 in revenues annually to support general city services. The measure passes with 50% of the vote, plus one vote.
Cannabis tax: Measure R would tax commercial cannabis businesses a maximum 7% of gross receipts for cultivation, laboratory testing, retail sales, distribution and manufacturing. Under the measure, the initial rate would be set at zero until cannabis business are allowed to operate legally in the city. If enacted, the tax would generate an estimated $3.5 million annually to support general city services. The measure passes with 50% of the vote, plus one vote.
Cannabis operations: Measure II, an advisory measure, seeks voter feedback on whether the city should consider legalizing and licensing commercial cannabis businesses.
Sales tax: Measure Q would increase the sales tax from 7.75% to 8.75%, generating an estimated $95 million annually to be used for general city services such as police and fire, parks and recreation, local drinking water, and initiatives to address homelessness and mental health issues. The measure passes with 50% of the vote, plus one vote.
Industrial tax: The measure would tax industrial properties 15 cents per square foot to generate up to $14 million annually to address road improvements due to the acceleration of road damage caused by heavy truck trips. The measure passes with two-thirds approval by voters.
Warehouse tax: Measure J would increase the business license tax for distribution centers from 4.7 cents per square foot of gross area to 10.5 cents per square foot, generating an additional $530,000 annually to defray the costs of providing city services and supplement the city’s general fund. The measure requires a simple majority to pass.
Transit villages: Measure F would amend the city’s General Plan to include specifications on building heights in various planned developments along the upcoming Redlands passenger rail line. The measure would, among other things, limit the height of buildings near downtown and university rail stations to three stories, and limit buildings near the Alabama, California and New York street stations to four stories.
School bond: Measure A would authorize a $340 million bond to upgrade Rialto Unified School District fire and safety systems, replace drinking water pipes and leaky roofs, remove asbestos and lead paint, and upgrade science, engineering, math, arts and vocational classrooms. The bond would levy 6 cents per $100 of assessed valuation on taxable properties through 2060. The measure requires approval by 55% of voters to pass.
San Bernardino County
Secession/fair share: Measure EE, an advisory measure, asks voters if they want the Board of Supervisors to study and advocate for “all options” to obtain the county’s “fair share” of funding from the state, “up to and including secession from the State of California.”
Supervisor pay/term limits: Measure D would reset term limits, capping supervisors at three four-year terms, and increase the salary cap for supervisors to about $180,000 a year. The measure would override Measure K, approved by voters in 2020, which limited supervisors to a single four-year term and capped their salaries at $60,000. The new measure would change the threshold to put a tax measure before voters, requiring a four-fifths vote of the board to refer a tax. Currently, only a three-fifths vote of the board is required to refer a tax measure. Measure D passes with 50% of the vote, plus one vote.
Sales tax: Measure L would increase the sales tax from 7.75% to 8.75% to generate an additional $16 million annually to support general city services such as public safety, roads and infrastructure, parks and efforts to address homelessness. The measure passes with 50% of the vote, plus one vote.
Staff writers Javier Rojas, Allyson Vergara, Brian Whitehead and Beau Yarbrough contributed to this report.