The political action committee for the Berkeley Property Owners Association has steered more than $892,540 in donations to defeat Measure U1 and promote Measure DD, two competing measures that would raise the business tax on rental units.
The Fair Political Practices Commission has launched an investigation into whether the supporters of Yes on Measure DD may have violated the financial disclosure requirements of the Political Reform Act.
There is a lot wrong with Measure U1. The tax rate imposed is many times higher than that imposed on virtually all other businesses and that charged in other cities. A 3% tax on gross receipts is the equivalent of a 5% to 17% on income, depending on the degree to which the property is mortgaged. Even a die-hard believer in progressive taxes should likely find a combined federal, state and local tax rate over 70% to be a bit excessive.
An independent expenditure group backed by one of Berkeley’s largest unions has poured $8,112 into Jesse Arreguín’s mayoral campaign, spending the funds on a website and literature that promote his views.
Real-estate groups have spent more than $786,000 in the last few months to defeat a measure that would almost double the business tax landlords pay in Berkeley (Measure U1) and to support an alternative measure with a lower tax (Measure DD). The funds were spent on campaign literature, signature collection, campaign consultants and for professional services from lawyers and others.
City Councilman and mayoral candidate Laurie Capitelli has filed a lawsuit challenging wording in a ballot measure argument that links him to business interests.
The litigation comes as the Berkeley Property Owners Association is pushing for its own competing tax initiative, Measure DD.
In the past five years, the population of Berkeley has grown 5.5%, but its housing supply has only increased 1.2%.
This is the first story in a Berkeleyside series on housing. Read the second story on rental rate increases here.
The Fair Campaign Practices Commission on Thursday levied its second heaviest fine in 20 years on a landlord-backed group that spent more than $42,500 during the 2012 election.
A highly critical report by the Alameda County Grand Jury has found that the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board is a “self-sustaining bureaucracy that operates without effective oversight and accountability.”
A Berkeley property company that has refused to return the security deposits of a number of former tenants agreed Wednesday to make some reparation.
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