Sunday, April 6, 2008

Vote No On Oakland's LLAD Increase

If you own property in Oakland, by now you should have received ballots in the mail regarding the proposed increase in the "Landscape and Lighting Assessment District" fee. PLEASE VOTE NO!

This fee increase should be anathema to liberals and conservatives alike. Liberals should hate it because it's a regressive tax -- costing the same amount for a small house as for a mansion. Conservatives should hate it because, well, it's a stupid tax.

Back in May of 2007, the mayor's office said they would "make the case" to voters for why the increase was necessary. I've searched diligently for any information which makes this case, and I haven't found it. I think it's more likely they're hoping to conduct a stealth campaign of convincing large landowners and Leftists to vote yes, while keeping the rest of us in the dark.

Last time they tried this, in 2006, the Tribune seemed surprised that the city needed the LLAD slush fund to take care of such normal city activities as maintaining parks and providing lighting. I guess $2.2B doesn't go as far as it used to.

Honestly, these special districts are just a trick. I looked though the LLAD's PDF describing where the money goes, and I was unsurprised to see that they listed a bunch of things -- ballfields and the like -- which are hard to argue against.

It's a clever move. They know no one would be likely to vote for the increase if it went to fund Deborah Edgerly's salary. Though, on second thought, I'm not sure the increase would raise enough to cover that.

No, the city moves popular public services into special districts while hiding overtime and corruption in the general fund. This way, they get as much of our money to spend as they can possibly grab with as little oversight as possible.

My belief about the possibility of a stealth campaign was bolstered tonight as I reviewed the city's PDF about the resolution to increase the tax. Oddly, and somewhat comically, they seem to have inserted a bunch of text into this document just to confuse or bore the public to death. It reminds me of SPAM I sometimes receive in my inbox that reads like some sort of bizarre poetry. From page 18:
Turf mowing is more time consuming than any of the other cultural practices involved in caring for turf. Regular mowing with a sharp mower blade at the proper height will help keep grass growing vigorously and maintain adequate density to completely cover the soil surface. In addition, mowing with sharp blades will cut the grass blades cleanly rather than tearing and shredding as would be the case with dull blades.... Shredded ends of the grass blade are more susceptible to disease invasion.

I'm confused. What is the point of providing such inane information in a public filing? Who compiled this document, and why?

The city wants us to vote yes on this increase because of a purported budget shortfall. Well, I've got news for the Oakland city government. Real estate values and transaction volume across California are dropping like stones. The city's housing transfer tax (yet another egregious hidden tax) is bringing in around half the money it did in prior years. It's just a matter of time before residents begin requesting downward revisions in property values for property taxes. That line item grew 12% last year (an unsustainable number, even in the best of times).

I have a sneaking suspicion this is the real reason Deborah Edgerly plans to leave her post as city administrator. She knows the city is in for repeated rounds of brutal budget cuts, and she wants to leave before the blame game begins.

Only in a declining revenue environment can we hope to see true budget cuts and some rationalization of the city's priorities. But to make sure this happens, we must do our utmost to avoid "feeding the beast." Voting down the LLAD increase is a step in this direction.

Even if we vote this down, we can expect to see numerous additional proposals in the coming couple years, as the city and its parasitic twin, the public employee unions, lash out at us. Already this has begun with the teachers union.

We must stand firm and unwavering in our commitment not to give the government any more money than we possibly can. Vote no on the LLAD increase.


  1. The city of Oakland has it's hand in my pocket for absolutely EVERYTHING. First it was the city's housing transfer tax...neither my husband or I had ever heard of that one before. Then it was the telephone tax. Did you know that everyone in Oakland pays a special tax just to own a cell phone and live in Oakland, never heard of that one before either, but a good way to tax renters.

    Then there was Measure Y, we all know how well that one worked for us, then Measure N for the nice, new library downtown (although my below 580 neighborhood doesn't have any library at all) and after that it was the LLAD special tax attempt #1, not to be confused with this #2 attempt, which I'm sure will be followed by #5, #27, #88, etc, etc.

    Boy, there is one thing Oakland is really good at and that is taking the money of hard working Oakland homeowners. I have never lived in a city that over-taxes residents like Oakland does. Keep in mind, Oakland is not filled with a lot of rich people, unless Deborah Edgerly and some of her city colleagues live here, which I kind of doubt. She probably lives in Danville with E40 and a good portion of the OPD.

    At my house we have already sent back our LLAD ballot. We voted on this ballot the same way we voted on Measure Y, Measure N and the LLAD tax attempt #2. We voted no. We will continue to vote no on each and every tax this corrupt government tries to extort from us. I urge you to do the same.

  2. Good for you. One thing I forgot to mention is the simple fact that, should this one pass, we'll just be faced with more and more of them. All voting yes does is encourage them. The parade of programs and "needs" never ends.

    The only solution is to turn off the spigot.

  3. Real people voted the LLAD increase down, but the City rigged a majority yes vote.