A tsunami of tax measures is on California’s horizon, with the leading edge breaking on our shores in November 2024. This could be an inflection point, with significantly higher taxes — particularly at the local and regional level — exacerbating unaffordability for millions of residents and businesses alike.

Across California, agencies are struggling to fund promised services while protecting their employees and our state government faces a California’s massive deficit.

Raising taxes is the go to solution. The rub: more voters are resisting higher taxes, unless they aren’t on the hook for paying them. Millionaire taxes remain popular. Apartment renters may be amenable to taxing property owners if they don’t make the connection to their own cost of living.

Enter stage left: ACA-1, a constitutional amendment on the November 2024 ballot.

ACA-1 is supported by the California League of Cities and opposed by California’s Chamber of Commerce, Association of Realtors, and leading business and individual taxpayers’ organizations. If passed, ACA-1 will lower the threshold to pass many new taxes from 2/3 to 55%, particularly if the tax measure states it will fund affordable housing or infrastructure (which could encompass a wide swath of tax proposals). If ACA-1 passes, it is instantaneously effective, lowering the threshold for tax measures that are on that same November ballot. This will spur a tidal wave of bond and other tax measures starting in November 2024 and, if ACA-1 passes, extending through 2026 and beyond until tax exhaustion peaks.

Per Dr. Gary Galles, economics professor at Pepperdine University: “ACA 1 would sharply lower Proposition 13’s two-thirds voter threshold to 55% for local special taxes to fund ‘infrastructure’ so vaguely defined that virtually anything could qualify.”

Bond measures typically last 30 years. So the impact of ACA-1 cannot be unwound for a generation even if it is repealed or modified in the next decade.

CO$T is currently tracking a number of local and regional measures that could be on the November ballot and will keep you posted. The first big one moving forward is a Bay Area regional tax measure that would greenlight the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAHFA) issuing up to $20 billion in bonds (which could cost taxpayers twice that with interest). This is projected to add $120 in property taxes per $1 million assessed valuation over the bond’s 30-year life.

As detailed in our letter to Marin County Supervisors, this is a very expensive, inefficient way of funding a small amount of affordable housing and obligating local governments (= taxpayers) to provide in perpetuity a host of consequent, unfunded services and subsidies.

The BAHFA bond could be on the same ballot as a second try at passing a $1 billion Tam Union High School District tax very similar to Measure A that voters rebuffed in the March election. Tam Union’s board will likely hire this month consultants and pollsters to assess how to get more Yes votes in a retry.

Several Marin cities are also looking to place bond and sales tax measures before voters in November. If taxpayers are to avoid being drowned by the tsunami – or if they are concerned about the fates of their children, friends and neighbors — they are going to have to start being selective. COST will also be selective, using our existing Sensible Tax Criteria and developing new Bond Guidelines and Guardrails to screen tax proposals.

While the outlook is concerning, it is possible that voters will reject ACA-1. It is disturbing that Marin County supervisors aren’t waiting for the November vote.

They will consider on April 2 (agenda item 6) approving money to create an affordable housing two year Fixed Term Principal Planner position at a cost of $450,000. This person would oversee and direct Marin’s portion of the not-yet-approved BAHFA bond program.

This reminds us of Tam Union High School District, which many months before the ill-fated vote on Measure A, also hired a bond project manager as well as spending over $7 million on developing plans for large new building complexes at Redwood and Tam high schools. It’s fiscally irresponsible to spend our tax dollars gambling on the outcome of a future election.

Email your Supervisor NOW. Join us in urging Marin Supervisors to (1)Vote no on hiring an affordable housing Principle Planner at least until voters approve the BAHFA measure and (2)seriously consider opting out of the regional tax measure as not in the best interests of Marin County residents.

If you are concerned about the tax tsunami, please consider a donation to COST today to help fund our advocacy on behalf of Marin taxpayer-voters.

Click here to read COST’s letter to Marin County’s Board of Supervisors to learn more about our objections to the BAHFA bond measure and why Marin should reject this proposal as unduly costly, financially inefficient, and fiscally irresponsible.


Many CA Heirs are Now Forced
to Sell the Family Home!
We Need YOUR Signature to
Amend Prop 19!
CO$T is helping with a statewide effort to fix 2020’s Proposition 19, which voters narrowly approved. People were largely unaware that voting YES would result in the reassessment of inherited homes and farms. Many children and grandchildren are now forced to sell their family home because they can’t afford the much higher property tax, This has upended the financial future and family integrity of many, many Californians.

Together we can fix this problem. We’re gathering signatures on an official petition to qualify an initiative measure for the November 2024 statewide ballot. The measure would repeal provisions that hike the property tax of inherited homes and farms while leaving the rest of Prop 19 intact.
Download, print, sign and submit the official petition NOW! Print as many as you can use. Sign one yourself and then collect as many signatures as you can from your family, friends and neighbors who are CA registered voters.

YOUR HELP IS KEY to getting enough signatures to qualify this initiative to appear on the November 2024 ballot.

Message us if you are willing to help with signature gathering. We can provide printed materials; direct interested signers to your doorstep; provide locales at which to solicit signatures, and team you up with signature gathering partners. It will take a collective effort to succeed! Let’s make sure Marin contributes more than its share of signatures!

Follow petition instructions precisely to ensure signatures count.
Act now! The statewide effort to fix prop 19 requires more than a million signatures. We are asking everyone to send in the signed petitions as soon as possible but no later than Tuesday, January 16. The return address is in the pdf with the petition, and a list of drop-off locations is underway. Message us if you want to drop off petitions for us to mail for you.
Volunteer to be a Petition Hub! Email the petition to your friends.

Spotswood Questions
$1 BILLION Tam Union Tax Measure
Tell Trustees What YOU Think

Marin IJ political columnist Dick Spotswood is questioning the size, priorities, and transparency of an over $1billion Tam Union High School District bond tax measure headed for the March 2024 ballot. Read Dick’s full column below.

CO$T is urging TUHSD take the following actions:

– Reduce and refocus the bond measure on the small set of truly urgent projects.

– Disclose the REAL cost of the over $1 billion tax measure in the 75 word summary statement that voters see on the ballot.

– Await voter approval before spending any more district funds on the bond project. Trustees have already contractually committed over $6 million to architects and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for political consultants, polling, mailers to voters promoting the proposal’s benefits, and a new staffer hired to manage the bond project.

Voice your opinion by emailing TUHSD’s Trustees or speaking at a hybrid format meeting.
Upcoming meetings are at 6PM Tuesday October 10, October 24 (when the agenda will include the latest polling on the proposed tax measure), and November 14 (when Trustees will likely vote on a resolution to place the bond tax measure on the March ballot).
Email TAM Union Directors & cc
Please don’t forget to cc us! This keeps us in the loop.
Karen Loebbaka, President

Leslie Harlander, Clerk

Cynthia Roenisch

Kevin Saavedra

Emily Uhlhorn

cc CO$T

October 7, 2023 at 10:50 a.m.

Tamalpais Union High School District is aiming to place a facilities improvement bond on the March 5 primary election ballot.

The district website indicates the measure, including interest and principal, will cost residents over $1 billion. Of that, $517 million is for principal. The remainder is debt service incurred over the bond’s 30-year term.

If passed, it will levy a real estate parcel tax of $30 per $100,000 of a property’s assessed value.

One billion in bonding costs might be the largest total ever requested in Marin. It calls to mind the quote attributed to the late Illinois Republican Sen. Everett McKinley Dirksen. Of the federal budget, Dirksen said, “A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money,”

School bond passage requires a 55% supermajority. TUHSD encompasses Ross Valley, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Corte Madera and Southern Marin. The high schools include Archie Williams, Redwood, Tamalpais and the small special-needs campuses of San Andreas and Tamiscal.

The Redwood Bark, a student newspaper, reports, “Bond proceeds will go for mechanical, electrical, plumbing infrastructure upgrades and new arts, music and cafeteria buildings.” The exterior of the district’s Larkspur headquarters building will also be modernized.

Before a delay related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was estimated that the cost of every item listed in TUHSD’s long-range facilities master plan would be $394 million. Trustees were recently startled to learn that construction expenses are now $517 million, a 25% increase. [Read Full Article Here]


Implement Merit Based Pay Pause Spending on Projects
that Aren’t Yet Voter-Approved
Trim Plans for 2024 Bond Measure Costing Taxpayers Over $1 Billion Read More Here

YOU May Qualify for Tax & Fee Exemptions & Discounts Senior, Low and Moderate Income, Disabled & Medical. Click Here!

CO$T and MMWD Settle Water Rate Lawsuit.

Read More Here

CO$T’s Class Action Lawsuit against MMWD

Help CO$T Thrive Today. Donate here


CO$T aims to:

1. Keep local taxes and fees on housing and basic services affordable.
2. Encourage officials to prioritize spending on the uses most important to taxpayers.
3. Improve transparency and fiscal responsibility at local agencies and districts.
4. Educate taxpayers about the cost and use of their local taxes and fees.
5. Urge that tax measures be fair, equitable, and approved by those who will be paying.

CO$T’s activities include:

1. Host non-partisan public meetings about local tax policies and the options.
2. Inform voters about proposed new and renewed taxes and fees.
3. Research whether new taxes and fees are necessary and how they will be used.
4. Investigate cost-effective alternatives to higher taxes and fees.
5. Guide local officials on which tax and spending proposals voters would favor.
6. Serve as Taxpayer Representative on district Citizen Oversight Committees.

CO$T is an all-volunteer organization led by our Board of Directors. Our Advisory Group gives periodic guidance and assistance on projects. We email alerts on issues and developments to followers who sign up to receive our communications.