A broad-based coalition of community leaders has organized to support Measure G, a November 2014 ballot proposal to renew the City of San Luis Obispo’s half-percent sales tax.
Supporters of the SLO Citizens for Measure G committee include former elected leaders, community activists, environmentalists, nonprofit representatives, agriculturalists, small business owners, and other professionals who, through their work and volunteer efforts have helped make San Luis Obispo the great city it is.
The co-chairs of SLO Citizens for Measure G are:
• Clint Pearce, President of Madonna Enterprises and past chair of SLO City Tourism Business Improvement District;
• Andrea (Andy) Pease, an architect and principal of In Balance Green Consulting, and a founding member of SLO Green Build; and
• Pierre Rademaker of Rademaker Design, a small-business owner and past president of the SLO Downtown Association, and the 2003 San Luis Obispo Citizen of the Year.
Rademaker said, “Renewal of this tax is essential to efforts to keep SLO the great city it is. The tax revenue accounts for 12% of the city’s general fund budget, and most of the tax – more than 70% — is paid for by visitors to the city.
“This is a very fair tax – people who come and enjoy the great things we have to offer should help pay for what SLO provides, and in fact, they do,” Rademaker said.
Other prominent leaders endorsing Measure G and signing the election-guide arguments are:
• Patricia (Patty) Andreen, who has served on several city advisory bodies including the Local Revenue Measure Advisory Committee, and is a former president of the San Luis Coastal Unified School District Board of Education;
• Lauren Brown, co-founder of JBL Scientific (later sold to Promega Biosciences) and one of the co-chairs of the campaign to pass Measures A & B, which resulted in pension reform and overturned binding arbitration, and 2013 San Luis Obispo Citizen of the Year;
• June McIvor, a local attorney, arts advocate and youth sports organizer;
• Eric Meyer, entrepreneur, San Luis Obispo County Planning Commissioner, and San Luis Obispo County Bicycle Coalition board member;
• Linnaea Phillips, former owner of Linnaea’s Cafe, an arts advocate, and the 1974 San Luis Obispo Citizen of the Year;
• B.K. Richard, trustee of The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County; and
• Dave Romero, mayor of San Luis Obispo 2002-2010.
The SLO Citizens for Measure G campaign has been quickly gaining momentum, according to Yes on G Treasurer Hillary Trout, who was also a leader in the successful campaigns to approve Measures A & B, which led to pension reform and the overturning of binding arbitration.
“Dozens of citizens have already stepped forward to actively support the renewal of a sales tax since the City Council voted earlier this month to put G on November’s ballot. This effort is part of a long history of residents rallying to sustain SLO’s quality of life,” Trout said.
Co-chair Pease said, “This broad-based coalition came together quickly because we have all seen the benefits of the half-percent sales tax – traffic circulation has been improved, bike lanes expanded, open-space acquired, and additional staff is now in place to focus on downtown safety and enforce neighborhood codes that improve life for all residents.
“Now it is time to renew the sales tax to fund the kind of improvements we want to see in the future like investments in capital improvements, open space and parks, and neighborhood wellness,” Pease added.
The tax was originally put before voters in November 2006 as Measure Y. Voters overwhelmingly approved it. The City Council, in a desire to be fully transparent and accountable, included a sunset clause requiring voter approval to continue the tax.
“Now the time has come for that renewal,” co-chair Pearce said. “We are aware that some residents have questioned whether the money has been properly spent.”
“The fact is, the city has painstakingly documented how it has spent the money, and independent audits have verified it,’’ Pearce said. “There is a strong track record of promises made and promises kept. Just look at what Measure Y promised and what the city spent the revenue on. It all adds up to a ‘yes’ to renew the tax. A yes vote on Measure G will keep SLO great.”
Andreen said, “The committee has done a great deal of research on how the half-percent sales tax has been spent. When you look at the original ballot language in 2006 outlining the intended spending priorities, and compare it to the audited reports on how it was actually spent, it’s clear that the money was spent wisely.”
“This tax was crucial to helping SLO weather the recession,” Andreen added, “and now it’s helping us improve the city in numerous ways. Renewing the tax will give us the opportunity to continue to improve our quality of life.”
Meyer said, “It’s important to remember that in 2006, thanks to the state’s many takeaways of local revenue, and the impacts of prior recessions, the city was forced to suspend neighborhood-street paving, cut several police and fire positions, eliminate open-space acquisition, and halt flood-protection programs. The half-percent sales tax enabled us to resume those programs and restore those positions. We should continue this tax in order to continue to make improvements.”
McIvor noted that the original ballot language said the half-percent sales tax revenue would be spent on seven key priorities:
1. Neighborhood street paving
2. Traffic congestion relief
3. Public safety
4. Flood protection
5. Senior citizen facilities and services
6. Neighborhood code enforcement
7. Open-space preservation
“In fact,” McIvor said, “you can look at each of these priorities and directly see the improvements that have happened in each identified area. Measure G makes sure we continue to see the kind of improvements that have so greatly affected and improved our City.”
Brown said he is supporting Measure G for three reasons: “First, this tax is a renewal and is largely borne by visitors to the city. Second, the city has increased its proportion of spending on capital improvements and reduced its percentage of spending on personnel costs. City employees have made meaningful wage and pension concessions that save the city more than $3 million annually.”
“Finally, Measure G also requires the naming of a citizens’ oversight committee, which will give citizens direct input into making sure the city focuses on its longer-term issues, such as unfunded pension costs,” Brown said.
Phillips said, “San Luis Obispo is on the right track. This half-percent sales tax generates 12% of the city’s general fund. Not renewing this tax will result in cuts in services. Why shoot ourselves in the foot like that? With more than 70% of the revenue coming from visitors, Measure G is a great deal for our citizens. I also think there is a unique opportunity here with the potential structure of the oversight committee. It is a chance for proponents, opponents and everyone in between to work together, support priorities and keep our elected leaders accountable. It deserves voters’ approval.”
SLO Citizens for Measure G is a committee primarily formed to support City of San Luis Obispo Measure G-14, registered with the Fair Political Practices Commission through the State of California. For more information, please visit the website, at www.citizensforg.org.