Bay Area leaders see lack of accountability in mammoth regional housing tax

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Marin County community and tax authorities express serious concerns that monies generated by huge regional tax won’t be seen by the cities that pay for them–and that the whole regional bill may run counter to popular will in particular counties. Marin Independent Journal reports.

Mary Stompe, a board member of the Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers, objected to the county’s plans regarding the bond.

She pointed out that under the plan Marin County would get back only 80% of the revenue collected from Marin taxpayers. The authority would be free to use the remaining 20% for regional projects.

“The county could raise its own funds for additional affordable housing, get 100% of the funds, and have direct local decision making and accountability including a citizens oversight committee,” Stompe said.

Supervisor Stephanie Moulton-Peters said, “I’m not sure we would pass a housing bond in Marin County alone. I’m just going to say that out loud. I’m not concerned that the funds won’t be well managed, frankly.”

The California Constitution requires two-thirds voter support for both general obligation bonds and special taxes. This year, however, the Legislature voted to place a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 5 ballot that would lower the voter threshold for affordable housing bonds to 55%.

If the constitutional amendment passes and the bond measure appears on the ballot and receives at least 55% support, the bond measure would become law.

Assembly Bill 1487, which created the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority, specifies the general categories on which counties would be required to spend their bond money. Fifty-two percent of the money would have to be used to produce new housing. Counties would be allowed to build housing that would be affordable to residents earning up to 120% of the area median income, which in Marin is $210,000 a year for a four-person household.

Twenty-eight percent would have to be used for housing or housing-related uses. Fifteen percent would have to be spent to preserve existing deed-restricted affordable housing. Five percent is supposed to be earmarked for tenant protections such as legal services, rental assistance, relocation, tenant education and displacement data collection.

“My concern is the use of the term tenant protections without adding housing provider protections,” said Michael Sexton, director of, a nonprofit opposing stricter rent control regulations. “This sets up a divisive, antagonistic playing field, pitting tenants against housing providers.”

Read the whole thing here.

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