Much has already been written on Measure CC (MCC), the proposed Laguna property tax to acquire open space parcels. The proponent’s arguments just don’t stand up to close examination. Their arguments include:
1. “The law is needed because the City has no money to buy private parcels.” The city has an open space budget now and buys land when the opportunity presents itself. In fact, some of the supporters of Measure CC recently asked the City Council for money to purchase a garden plot.
2. “The law is similar to the Laguna Canyon Conservancy (LCC) example.” There are many differences between Measure CC and the LCC purchase. The LCC land in question was a single large parcel slated for imminent development not under Laguna’s control. The targeted land is owned by dozens of individuals, fragmented, steeply sloped and unbuildable under current Laguna regulations.
3. “The tax is fair and immaterial to Laguna residents.” Measure CC will tax over 13,000 existing parcels and generate over $30 million in revenues. “Fair taxation” depends on who you are. If you are a billionaire living in an ocean front mansion, MCC is fair because the tax is immaterial. If you are retired and living in a modest house, MCC is an unfair burden. Only the property owners pay this tax, while every registered voter in town gets a vote.
MCC sets up a permanent Citizens Committee. The powers of the Citizens Committee are not clearly defined. It appears the Committee will both review and recommend land purchases and be “responsible” to “insure all funds are used cost effectively …” MCC is silent on who is managing tax revenues that are estimated to be over $30 million. MCC mentions the “chief fiscal officer” but this position is not found on the city’s website. The Citizens Committee has the power to demand the council explain any actions that are contrary to the wishes of the committee. The council works for Laguna citizens, not a five-person committee to arbitrarily purchase whatever parcel is in their own best interests. Although the tax ends after 20 years, the committee continues to use its powers forever.
Management of Laguna’s remaining open space is in good hands with our elected officials and staff. Measure CC is not needed and will only lead to waste and problems our city cannot afford.
Learn more about Measure CC. It’s not what it seems.
Jill Cooper, Laguna Beach