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COMMENTARY
Déjà Vu All Over Again
Dave Druker | 10th Street


The City Council is grappling with some issues prior councils have worked on and it seems to be making similar mistakes.

In 2010, the council put Prop J on the ballot to extend the Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT) to short term rentals and regulate short term rentals. Prop J lost. One of the reasons people opposed Prop J is that it regulated house rentals when a person rented their house out during a vacation. People chaffed at these added regulations. Now the council is looking at regulating short term rentals. The city cannot make rules that distinguish between a person renting their house out once per year and a person turning their house into a business. Many of the people who opposed Prop J, now are willing to ban short term rentals altogether.

In 2004, the council put Prop N on the ballot to raise the Real Estate Property Transfer Tax. The council believed that most people in town trusted the council’s decisions and knew that the city was having financial difficulties. Prop N was overwhelming defeated. One of the arguments used against the tax was it gave a “bunch of money” to bureaucrats who would spend it on anything they desired.

In 2008, the City Council asked the voters to impose a clean water fee. The council learned that before putting a fee increase on the residents they would need to make their case directly to the citizens and get feedback. So the council held about 18 separate neighborhood meetings to discuss the financial situation of the city and why a clean water fee was the best alternative. The Clean Water Fee passed.

Today, the City Council may ask the citizens to raise the sales tax between 1/2 and 1%. The council has not made the case that the city is in “financial crisis” or designated how the money would be spent.

The citizens of Del Mar have increased their fees and taxes when they understand the need and how the money will be spent. The City Council must prove to the citizens the need before they have another ballot measure go down to defeat.

The recent initiative to make zone changes requiring a public vote garnered over 500 signatures. This should be a warning to the council that many citizens do not trust the council to make the right decisions.

So the City Council should ban short term rentals as regulating them is not what the citizens want and should postpone putting any tax increase on the ballot until the citizens are more informed about the state of the finances and the use of the increase in funds.

 

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