Jubilation broke out at the Measure E headquarters on Second Street after the first round of elections results were released Tuesday night. Although the lead was slight, Mayor Sam Liccardo waved his fist in the air, delivering fist bumps around the room.
“What heartens me as a public servant in this city,” Liccardo said, “is that when faced with the choice, San Jose residents picked the future, and when confronted with the worst housing crisis in anyone’s lifetime, San Joseans made a decision that we need to do more to get our neighbors off the street and help our teachers and nurses and struggling families continue to stay and strive in our community.”
Liccardo thanked the team for all the Saturdays and late nights they spent on the campaign for Measure E, which had 53 percent of the vote as of midnight Tuesday. The measure seeks to enact a permanent property tax on transactions involving more than $2 million to fund affordable housing.
“It’s not over yet, but things are looking good and I’m so grateful,” he said. “And this is for the thousands of San Joseans who will be able to thank you as well, as soon as those houses are built.”
Leslye Corsiglia, executive director at [email protected], was also excited with the early result.
“It feels great,” she said. “We’ve worked so hard and this is so important for the community. We’re so hopeful it’s going to make it.”
Property transactions in San Jose are likely to bring in a windfall to the city with Measure E on its way to passage.
The property transfer tax is a flat $3.30 per $1,000 of assessed property value, but Measure E would increase that to:
• $7.50 per $1,000 of transfer value on properties priced between $2 million and $5 million
• $10 per $1,000 of transfer value on properties priced between $5 million and $10 million
• $15 per $1,000 of transfer value on properties priced at $10 million and above.
“The city has struggled without the resources it needs for affordable housing, so Measure E is really critical,” Corsiglia said. “It could provide between $30 and $70 million a year.”
Proponents of Measure E cite the rising number of homeless residents on city streets — estimated at 6,000 people, a 40 percent increase during the past two years — and the need for a local funding source for affordable housing, services and homelessness prevention.
Michael Lane, deputy director of [email protected], sees Measure E as “one piece of the solution, but a critical piece at the local level” not only for the homeless, but also for lower-income families being priced out and workers who have to commute for hours to their jobs in San Jose.
Opponents of the measure say they are tired of being taxed. Since 2014, voters have passed three citywide taxes and two countywide taxes. They also note that high-tech firms like Apple, Google and Facebook have pledged billions of dollars for housing and eBay is already contributing.
Those not in favor of Measure E are also concerned that as the tax will go into the general fund, future City Council members will be able to spend the money for other city needs. Opponents say it will make it more expensive for developers and increasing costs doesn’t lead to increased affordability.
“It will make it harder to finance the projects we desperately need in San Jose, so fewer homes will get built, and our housing crisis will get worse,” say those who penned the argument against Measure E. “Instead of raising taxes… let’s focus on using the housing money we already have more effectively.”
If approved, the tax would go into effect on July 1, 2020, and would continue indefinitely unless it is repealed by voters or suspended by the City Council.
Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]