Next City Council Meeting - March 6th at 6:00 p.m. - MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD


STOP the City's Plan to Tax YOU to Underground Utilities

Facts, not Fear

The City  wants to underground utilities in Laguna and wants YOU to pay for it by increasing your taxes.  The City is using FEAR and FALSE FACTS to exaggerate the fire risk of overhead utility lines and RUSH voters to approve a November ballot measure to increase taxes. The City wants Laguna taxpayers to approve up to a $155 MILLION GENERAL OBLIGATION BOND ("GO Bond") or increase local sales taxes, or both, to underground all of Laguna Canyon Road (LCR) and "evacuation routes."  S.T.O.P and this website was created to inform Laguna voters of the FACTS so that you can make an informed decision based on facts, not fear.

STOP Property Tax Increases

GO Bonds are a type of debt  issued by the City, repayble not by the City but by you, the taxpayer.  GO Bonds are secured by "ad volrem" property taxes, meaning your property is assessed to repay the GO bonds increasing your property taxes for up to 30 YEARS.  GO Bonds require 2/3rds VOTER APPROVAL.

STOP Sales Tax Increases

The City ALSO wants to INCREASE the local sales tax to fund the utilituy under grounding. Sales taxes are paid by you each time you make a purchase, eat or drink in Laguna. Increased sales taxes will hurt small retail business owners already struggling to survive in Laguna. 

Facts About Undergrounding

Shouldn't the City Pay?

YES!  For the last several years the City has had budget surpluses, close to $10 Million in 2015 and 2016, and $4.1 Million in 2017.  If undergrounding is so critical to our safety, why hasn't the City been tucking away all those surpluses towards undergrounding, as opposed to placing the burden of undergrounding, like a $135M in a GOBond, squarely on the backs of the taxpayers? Shouldn’t we demand better planning and fiscal responsibility of our City’s leaders for something we are being told is “vital" to our safety?  



How are my Property Taxes Impacted?

The City wants to impose new taxes on your property tax bill to pay for the GO Bond.  The City says the median tax assessement will be $240/yr for 30 years. but that is only if your "assessed value" is $600,000.  If you bought your property in the last 10-15 years your tax assessment will be MUCH HIGHER!  Is that fair?  Is the burden equally distributed amongst all homeowners? NO!

How Do I STOP the City?

Make your voices heard!  Contact your city council members and the city manager by email (link below) and show up at city council meetings. In November at the ballot VOTE  NO.


What's Laguna's sales tax?

Laguna's sales tax is 7.75%, but the City Council wants to raise that by at least 1% to 8.75% to help fund undergrounding. To support the tax increase the City claimed the average of similar CA tourist cities was over 9%, BUT the City cherrypicked the data and left other comparable cities off the list, manipulating taxpayers with their inherent bias.  The result? The average was closer to 7.48% to 7.81%, which makes the proposed increase to 8.75% one of the highest sales tax rates in the state.  The average of neighboring OC cities is only 7.5%.  Laguna Taxpayers deserve more honesty.**


**Facts provided courtesy of Mike Morris of LagunaResidentsFirst.com

Why doesn't the Measure LL taxes pay for the undergrounding?

in 2016 Laguna voters passsed Measure LL which increased temporary occupancy taxes (TOT) on hotels by 2%.  The increased taxes ($2.4 Million in 2017) go into the City's general fund, but are supposed to be used for Measure LL purposes.  In 2017 $1 Million was set aside for undergrounding, but more could be allocated to undergrounding IF the City Council chose to do so.

FAQs

Got questions?  We've got answers. Email us your questions at Yes@stoptaxingourproperty.com and we will post answers to your questions on our FAQ page

Why Spend $$$ to Underground Obsolete Utilities?

The City estimates over 6 1/2 years and just under $10M before construction would even begin on undergrounding due to planning, engineering and approvals. Think about it. Wireless delivery of power to users already exists, and is developing faster every day for mass scale use. Soon electricity transmission by wires will be obsolete. So why are we spending hundreds of millions of $$$ to underground a soon to be obsolete method of delivering power?


New SCEdison Safety Regulations

Effective 2018,  SCEdison must follow  new CPUC safety regulations which create significant new fire prevention rules for utility poles and wires, including frequent monitoring and inspection of all utility poles, immediate correction of safety hazards in high fire threat areas in Laguna and major new rules for vegetation management. Shouldn’t we wait and see if these new safety measures, which should dramatically reduce fire risk, work before asking taxpayers to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to underground utilities? Is the City rushing to underground based on fear and frenzy? If SCEdison fails to comply with these new regulations, there may then be substantial cause to legally require SC Edison to underground the utilities at its own cost.

Will City Council Members Be Paying Their "Fair" Share?

No.  Under the proposed $135 Million GO Bond the dollar amount of the tax assessment on each property will be based on its "assessed value", not the fair market value.  If you bought your home many years ago, your tax assessment will be low, but if you bought more recently, your tax assessment will be high. The average "assessed value" of the current City Council Members is very low at $462,000, with the lowest at $149,000 and the highest at $670,000. So the Council Members will pay some of the lowest tax assessments if a GO Bond is passed to underground utilities, whereas other residents who bought more recently will pay thousands more. Is this fair? Is it equitable? What is the assessed value of city owned properties and some commercial properties that have been held for long periods of time? Are they paying their “fair share?”

Will My Property Tax Increase Be Deductible?

Maybe not.  Under the new federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxpayers who itemize on their tax returns will not be able to deduct their state and local income, sales and property taxes (SALT) to the extent they exceed $10,000. Most Laguna homeowners who bought their homes more recently pay much more than $10,000 in property taxes, so any additional property tax assessment will not be deductible.  Ouch!

Will the City refund any unused assessments?

Unlikely. If the $135 Million GO Bond is passed by the voters to fund the undergrounding, and there is money left over after completion, any overage should be paid back to the  taxpayers.  But, the City does not have a good history of putting that money back in taxpayers' wallets.  The City is not likely to let you know about any overage, and you would have to ask specifically for the refund, and the City will charge you $35 to write the check! In other words, don't count on it.

TBD

More facts coming soon!

What are the supposed "evacuation routes?" What if I would unlikely ever use that street?

What if I already paid to underground my neighborhood?  Do I have to pay again?

Why should I pay to improve my neighbor's views?

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Contact Us

Yes@stoptaxingourproperty.com

Founding Member Jennifer W. Zeiter, Laguna Beach resident, transparency advocate and fiscal watchdog.

Phone and mail contact info below:

Stop Taxing Our Property - S.T.O.P

2599 Glenneyre Street, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, US

(949) 715-8736