Antioch citizens file papers to place rental property fee on November ballot

By Allen Payton

On Tuesday, May 7, 2013 a group of citizens, led by Antioch Police and Crime Prevention Commissioner Hans Ho, filed a Notice of Intent to Circulate Petition with Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen, to begin gathering signatures to place a measure on the November ballot to implement a landlord rental fee on residential rental properties.

The fee would be $240 per year or $20 per month per single-family home and multi-family unit, such as condominiums, townhouses, duets and apartments that are non-owner occupied. In order to pass the measure will have to garner a simple majority vote of 50% plus one vote of Antioch voters.

If passed, the fee will generate $2,640,000 per year for the City’s General Fund – which pays for police and other city services – based on an estimated 11,000 rental units in the city.

Among those properties which are exempt from paying the tax are residential care facilities and senior housing complexes.

“Every one has been talking about this, for a long time, including the City Council and citizens, as I go to Neighborhood Watch meetings,” said Ho. “We’ve grown impatient waiting for the City Council to act so we jumped in.”

The Council has discussed placing both a residential rental fee and a sales tax on the November ballot.

“Any one of these measures will not fully fund the police department,” he added. “This is not an alternative to the sales tax measure, it’s a companion to it.”

Estimates have been given to the council of over $4 million to fully staff the police department to 126 sworn officers and  Community Service Officers. Over $7 million per year extra is needed to get to the optimum level of police staffing.

The group didn’t want to wait until after next Tuesday’s council meeting, where the results of the city-commissioned survey on the issue will be discussed.

There’s a fear the council is afraid of pursuing the fee on residential properties and the citizens group wanted to take action to ensure they had enough time to gather the signatures to place it on the ballot.

The group has until July 31 to gather and submit the required 4,647 valid signatures, which is 10% of the registered voters as of the last election, to get the measure on the November 5, 2013 ballot. The group plans on gathering 8,000 signatures just to be safe.

According to Simonsen, the group submitted the officially letter to the City Attorney to prepare the official title and summary of the ballot measure within 15 days.

The effort is supported by Take Back Antioch and the Friday Morning Breakfast Club, which is made up of community leaders and residents, as well as many individuals in the community.

Ho, who is acting as a citizen, not in his official capacity in supporting the effort, can be contacted at hans_ho@juno.com, for now. They expect to have a website and Facebook page to provide information to the public and for those who would like to get involved and help circulate the petitions and gather signatures.

For the complete language of the ballot measure click here: Landlord initiative ordinance

Following are the arguments and reasoning for the ballot measure:

-This Community generated initiative would provide an estimated $2.5 to 2.7 million per year to the City for the highest priority areas, such as public safety.  Crime levels in many areas of the City are at unacceptable levels and this will help to provide new resources.  This new revenue may alleviate the demand for an additional high sales tax rate which could depress business in the City.

-This Community-based initiative would mean that each “non-owner occupied dwelling” in the City would be charged a Business License Fee of $240 per year to offset the costs to the community.  This would close a multi-million dollar loop-hole for landlords that results in high costs on local communities for related resources and services associated with the burdens from this area of business.

-Most businesses in the City already pay a business license fee, but currently, many dwellings are rented without any business license.  This initiative would provide a simple frame work to efficiently collect consistent fees from all non-owner occupied dwellings in the City.  This would generate a stable source of revenue, unlike alternatives such as a sales tax.

-The business of “renting” dwellings results in new costly demands on City services such as public safety, and this would allow those engaged in the business of renting to provide compensation for these costs.  The proposed fees would be paid by the owners of the rental properties.

-Most business in the City is conducted in areas zoned for business, but the dwelling rental business typically operates within and among residential areas.  The impacts of a business operating in a residential area needs to be addressed.  Years of complaints due to unresponsive landlords chronically conducting poor business practices among local residential neighborhoods has only become even worse.  This poor quality of life for all citizens can only be addressed with the correct level of resources, including public safety.

This is about:

-Fairness, so all businesses pay a reasonable license fee for their area of business, and at a level related to the impact on resources.

-Fairness, to impacted residential areas through enhanced relief through better resources.

-More resources for priority areas such as public safety.

-A Community-based effort to reducing blight and Crime.

-A stable revenue stream for new resources, unlike other options such as a sales tax.

-Encouraging responsible business owners engaged in renting property, and resources for unresponsive landlords.

-A Community-based solution after years of dysfunctional talk.

-Helping all parts of, and all citizens in the City to live with a higher quality of life.

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the attachments to this post:

Landlord initiative ordinance
Landlord initiative ordinance


13 Comments to “Antioch citizens file papers to place rental property fee on November ballot”

  1. Bill Cook says:

    Right On Hans!!!! Finally someone stepping up to do something about Crime in Antioch. To long have we been kicking this can down the road waiting for someone else to do something. Thanks for bringing this to the Antioch Voters!!!!! I only hope the Antioch Residents realize how important it is that this pass.

    • karl says:

      @bill,

      just for the record.

      while hans ho is the most qualified person to lead that initiative, and i thank him for accepting the chair position, all the credit to put this ballot initiative together, goes solely to the friday morning breakfast club community group. if you want to name two out of that group, and lift them in the air, it has to be don freitas, and david larsen.

      now is the time that other community groups/ members/ citizen of antioch come together and grab the bull by the horn.
      we will need a lot of active people to collect signatures. most important..voters at the nov. election.

      • Hans Ho says:

        Karl,

        You are right. I am just the guy signing the Intent papers. Many others worked to put this together. To them shold go the merits.

        Hans

  2. Susan says:

    Don’t stop there. Place a $5000 fee for every homeowner that rents to Section 8 in Antioch. Maybe this will limit the number of homes/apartments that take Section 8.

    • karl says:

      hello susan,

      that does not work like that. sec. 8 is a federal program.
      but what the city can do is to fully staff code enforcement, reinstate the rental inspection program, and have hefty fines for home/ property owners who are not keeping up their house/ properties.
      co,e to the council meetings, we meet, and talk about it.

  3. Christopher Grisham says:

    Finally! I am so glad this is coming to fruition.

    It takes small steps to get where we need to be and this is a big step in the right direction.

    Please, someone tell me where I can sign my signature. I will have my entire family sign.

    CG

    • karl says:

      @chris…

      at the time our city lawyer is verifying the correctness of the ballot initiative. it will take about 15 days from now before we know if everything is correct.
      please feel free to read at : http://antiochdiscussionforum.myfunforum.org/index.php
      (i don’t know if the editor allows links?)

      i will sit with a sign, NO NEW TAXES down town, on second street, at least 2 hours in the morning. get hold of me. there is also a email address of hans ho in the opening article.

      please keep in mind everything just happens…lol

  4. Kenji Freitas says:

    Just curious, as a landlord with a rental myself, is this fee tax deductible since it will be a cost of doing business with the rental?

    • karl says:

      hi kenji,

      that’s a great question. hopefully one of the readers is a tax expert and will answer. we could need/ use that info for the campaign.

      • Antioch Landlord says:

        Yes it is deductible, just as the property taxes you pay for the rental property.

        Funny, they want landlords to pay their fair share, yet we pay the same property taxes that owner occupied properties do. Yet, what they like to say is that the landlords will pay this, but what any business owner knows is that the cost will be passed on to the tenants, as I will do. So, this is really a tax on renters.
        I have nice properties with nice people renting them and have had to fight against discrimination against them simply due to their status as a renter. As an investor I bought blighted properties and spent my own capital to improve all of them and rent them out as a longterm investment as is my right to do and assume the risk that comes along with that as well. All of my properties have increased in value and increased the value of the homes immediately surrounding them. This has brought more money into the state and city via increased home values and subsequently increased property taxes. So, I see taxing the rental property on top of that as a double taxation rather than bring me on par with what other businesses are paying to operate in Antioch. Of course, that is just my opinion.
        Or, how about this novel idea, require these tax funded entities to operate under the same methods as private businesses do that do not have an endless source of revenue coming in each year. My guess is that they would be required to trim, run more efficiently and hire and pay more responsibly and operate within their means. This could possibly eliminate the need for more money from anyone and still provide the needed services to the community. I know, uphill battle, but just a thought since as a private business owner I have managed to do that for several years.

        Last thought, there are a number of owner occupied properties that drain city services and I think it is unfair to single out renters as the source of the problem. It is a veiled source of discrimination against those that cannot afford or chose not to buy a home. Perhaps money should be spent to asses penalties on landlords and owner occupied homeowners where the drain on city services occurs. the more you utilize city services due to your irresponsibility or reckless behavior, the, more you have to pay for it. leave us responsible property owners out of it. Or more simply, perhaps they should go for a parcel tax that would tax everyone equally as they qualify these services equally.

        That’s my rant for the day. Be well.

        • Julie says:

          Antioch Landlord makes some very valid points. Many rentals are owned by ‘Mom & Pop’ landlords. Don’t assume because someone is a landlord that they are rich and should be taxed because ‘they can afford it’. Landlords in Antioch have the same frustrations as other residents when it comes to getting city services, such as code enforcement on home owners who live in their homes but who don’t keep up their property.

  5. Bill Cook says:

    Karl, you are right. Thanks to the Friday Morning Breakfast Club, Don Freitas and Don Larsen being the ones that started this.

  6. Marty Fernandez says:

    Kenji: As a landlord/owner of a rental you should know if it is tax deductible. I believe it is a cost of doing business and your tax account /income tax preparer would be the correct person to ask.

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