Measure L - Transient Occupancy Tax Amendment
Measure L Summary
Measure L WON’T increase taxes or change the City’s current voter-approved Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). A YES vote on Measure L supports the City’s proposal to clarify its TOT Ordinance so TOT funds can be used for construction and financing of major park improvements and future affordable housing projects. A NO vote on Measure L rejects the City’s proposal.
Investing in Our Parks
One of the City’s key priorities is maintaining and improving more than 220 acres of parks and open space across 16 local parks. As revenue generated by visitors has increased in recent years, the City Council has committed to an unprecedented investment in maintaining, updating, and expanding our park system. In 2021, as part of that effort, the City of Healdsburg completed a community-driven plan for the redevelopment of Badger Park with expanded public access to the Russian River, and development of a new 36-acre park at the north end of town that will include playing fields for youth and adults, trails, open space, and more.
The City is now pursuing a plan to implement these two significant park projects as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. The TOT fund offers a promising source of funding to complete them.
Healdsburg's TOT funds local parks, affordable housing and more
The City first adopted a Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) or Hotel Tax in 1965, applying to all lodging establishments within Healdsburg. Over the years, Healdsburg voters have approved various adjustments to this City funding stream. At 14% today, the City’s current TOT supports local parks (10%), affordable housing (2%) and General Fund services (2%). Steadily increasing TOT revenues have expanded the City’s ability to provide services valued by our residents that contribute to Healdsburg’s high quality of life.
Parks and the TOT
While some TOT funds are allocated to maintaining parks, the City’s existing TOT ordinance does not currently allow TOT funds to be used for construction and financing major park improvements. Even though sufficient TOT revenue is available, the City cannot use these funds for projects like the redevelopment of Badger Park and construction of the new park. A change in the City’s ordinance is now recommended and has been placed on the ballot as Measure L. Passage of Measure L would allow similar flexibility for financing future affordable housing projects.
The Bottom Line
Measure L will enable the City to move forward with reconstruction of Badger Park as well as construction of the new 36-acre park among other projects. The City’s goal with Measure L is to obtain the proper voter approval so that these transformative projects can be completed faster and more cost-effectively, and residents can begin enjoying these amenities as soon as possible.
All voters living in Healdsburg city limits who are registered to vote by October 24 will be eligible to vote on this ballot measure. Measure L requires 2/3 (66.7%) voter support to pass.
- What is Measure L?
Measure L has been placed on the November 8th ballot to secure voter authorization to clarify the City’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) Ordinance, allowing greater flexibility to improve city parks and complete future affordable housing projects. This measure WON’T increase taxes or tax rates, nor will it change TOT funding allocations. A YES vote supports clarifying the City’s ordinance to allow TOT funds to be used for construction and financing park improvements, and future affordable housing projects. A NO vote rejects the City’s proposal.
- What is the actual question on the November ballot that voters will be asked to decide?
“Shall the City of Healdsburg adopt an ordinance amending the City’s Transient Occupancy Tax to facilitate acquisition and construction of capital improvements for parks, community services facilities, and affordable housing, including payment of principal, interest, and cost of indebtedness, without altering any other mechanics or rates of the Transient Occupancy Tax?”
- Why has the City placed Measure L on the ballot?
The City has identified public parks as a priority for further investment. Current City plans include redevelopment of Badger Park with expanded public access to the Russian River, and development of a new 36-acre park at the north end of town. In preparing a financing plan for these projects, the City identified TOT funds as a promising source for funding these major park improvements. Measure L proposes to clarify the City’s TOT ordinance, allowing the City to use TOT funds to finance the redevelopment of existing parks and facilities as well as construction of new parks and facilities and future affordable housing projects.
- What is a Transient Occupancy Tax?
A Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), sometimes referred to as a “hotel tax” or “visitors tax,” is an assessment on all lodging transactions (including hotels, motels, resorts, inns, suites, and B&Bs). This assessment is charged to visitors that stay in local lodging establishments and is collected monthly from those local lodging establishments.
- What is the City's TOT history? How are TOT funds used?
The City first adopted a Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) or Hotel Tax in 1965, applying to all lodging establishments within Healdsburg. In 2002, the voters approved a ballot initiative that affirmed the City’s 10% TOT and restricted the proceeds of the TOT for the provision of community services. In 2004, voters approved a ballot measure increasing the TOT from 10% to 12%, with the additional 2% supporting General Fund services. In 2016, voters approved a ballot measure increasing the TOT rate by an additional 2% to 14%, restricting the additional 2% for affordable housing programs and services. Today’s TOT is 14%; 10% goes Community Services, including parks; 2% goes to affordable housing; and 2% goes to the City’s General Fund (NOTE: there is nothing in Measure L that would change these previous voter-approved allocations).
- What specifically would Measure L do for Healdsburg parks?
Specifically, passage of Measure L will allow the City to move forward with redevelopment of Badger Park, adding new amenities and access to the Russian River, as well as construction of a major new park at the north end of town. Without Measure L, these two major parks projects will take longer to complete and may need to be scaled back to stay within budget.
- Who is eligible to vote?
All voters living within Healdsburg city limits who are registered to vote by October 24 will be eligible to vote on Measure L.
- What is needed for Measure L to pass?
This measure requires 2/3 (66.7%) voter support to pass.
- What happens if Measure L doesn't pass?
Without Measure L, the ability to use TOT funds for capital improvements will remain unclear and the City will need to evaluate different approaches for financing the planned park projects. The projects will be delayed by several years and they may need to be scaled back to reduce overall costs.
- How long will Measure L last?
Passage of Measure L would mean that the City’s revised TOT ordinance clarifying and increasing financial flexibility for use of the City’s TOT funding would be in place until ended by voters.
- Where can I go for more information?
For more information, visit: www.healdsburg.gov or contact City Clerk Raina Allan by email firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 707-431-3316.