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With little opposition, Palo Alto asks voters to approve business tax

Original post made on Oct 5, 2022

When the Palo Alto City Council voted Monday to formally endorse Measure K, which would create a business tax, the most striking comments were the ones that weren't spoken.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 5, 2022, 9:48 AM

Comments (18)

Posted by Citizen
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 5, 2022 at 10:17 am

Citizen is a registered user.

No new taxes which will be passed on and raise the cost of living.

Tighten your belt, City, and cut your fat.


Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2022 at 10:17 am

resident3 is a registered user.

"many of whom are well aware of the business community's power and influence."

The Silicon Valley Leadership group has shown that their power is meaningless to do things that really matter, like helping solve real problems like transportation but they do shine at crippling City leadership with threats and lobbying.

It's all lose-lose with business. They do nothing for the City in fat times except make up ridiculous jobs and housing projections, and businesses will be even more useless now for this town.

Where is the business registry?


Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 5, 2022 at 10:25 am

Local Resident is a registered user.

The funds for affordable housing and the rail crossing are needed to get matching funds from the state and federal gov, thus it will bring in much larger funding towards helping Palo Alto address these issues.


Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2022 at 10:40 am

resident3 is a registered user.

@Local Resident,

"The funds for affordable housing and the rail crossing are needed to get matching funds from the state and federal gov, thus it will bring in much larger funding towards helping Palo Alto address these issues."

Matching $9 million does not make this "much larger" funding. That is not leadership. It's embarrassing and shameful that business lobbyists got this "deal" with threats.


Posted by peppered
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 5, 2022 at 10:48 am

peppered is a registered user.

This city's budget and organization are bloated and the retirement benefits are too generous.
Anyone believing that a business tax will not lead to higher prices is delusional.
The city needs to cut expenses, reduce headcount, oursource more and streamline operations.
The last thing they need is more taxes -- or taxes disguised as natural gas utility charges.


Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 5, 2022 at 10:58 am

MyFeelz is a registered user.

"All parts of community must contribute to funding their essential services. Palo Alto has fewer visitors and business travelers now because of COVID, and we are the last major city in our region without a Business Tax" .... we just hate being last. But we will be first to implement forced retrofitting for all homes in the city limits in the name of climate change!

As for all parts of the community contributing, it's not COVID causing fewer visitors or business travelers. The world has changed. COVID only made it more pronounced. Moral imperatives were on the move before it happened. We are definitely the last to recognize that fact.


Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 5, 2022 at 11:19 am

Annette is a registered user.

Dubois is exactly right: this tax (if passed) is insufficient, small, and modest. Of course business leaders are honoring their part of the bargain and not opposing this tax - they won the negotiation! We got hosed; big business will hardly notice this tax. Palo Altans, on the other hand, will notice how insufficient it is.

Proponents argue that this tax is better than nothing. I'm not convinced about that b/c this locks us into a paltry tax while the costs of what the revenue is meant to pay for (housing, public safety, and transportation) far exceed what can be achieved with the revenue, especially if the revenue is split equally amongst the three designated areas of need. What we need is a business tax that is relevant to impact. What's the plan for making up the difference between what this tax will bring us and what is needed?


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 5, 2022 at 11:34 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Why shouldn't the business community stay silent? They got everything they wanted from the City Council and the only opposition -- FROM US the resident taxpayers -- was dismissed and ignored by the Mayor and the City Council members to whom we wrote.

"Vicky Veenker said at a September forum that she believes businesses will "take pride in paying their fair share.""

When?? What pride? What "fair share"?? Did Ms Veenker miss that businesses have fought long and hard to avoid paying their fair share and have long shifted all the costs to residents?? Did she somehow miss that PA is the only city without a business tax?

Whenever someone criticized how a project is managed, the waste by the city and/or suggested better ways of doing things WE'VE been ignored and told that we must pass the $9,000,000 business tax or THAT project will be cut.

All this while they're advocating spending $143,000,000 on Fiber to compete with AT&T!, get us a new gym, spend $7,000,000 on getting us new water heaters, etc etc.

Sorry but I'm opposing this tax as well as the continued practice of ripping us off for $20,000,000 each and every year in Utility "overcharges" while stalling paying us our court-ordered refund. Will they pay US interest or negotiate with US the way the Mayor "negotiated" the business tax down from $45,000,000 to $9,000,000!








Posted by Palo Alto native
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 5, 2022 at 12:19 pm

Palo Alto native is a registered user.

Have to agree with previous comment. Our utility division has been ripping us off approx 20 million a year which has been going to CC general fund. I want my overpayments paid to me with interest, and want the Utility Dept to run with no co-mingling of funds to the City!
The Business tax should have one priority: grade separation. Why are police officers and affordable housing part of this new business tax? Do we need to hire more police officers? If so, other non-essential budeget items need to get cut. Why is business tax funding affordable housing? We have lots of affordable housing all over Palo Alto, and it doesn’t make financial sense to build more in Palo Alto with our high land costs. Of course, the PA Airport could fill out ABAG required affordable housing allocation , instead of millionaires flying their dirty planes over our supposed protected Baylands habitat.


Posted by John Donegan
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2022 at 12:31 pm

John Donegan is a registered user.

After maintaining an office in Palo Alto for many year, I am glad I left. I would not be happy being the convenient "cash cow" for every group of residents pushing some pet project. I placed relatively few demands on city services, yet paid a lot property taxes through the rent I paid.


Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2022 at 12:43 pm

resident3 is a registered user.

@John Donegan,

"After maintaining an office in Palo Alto for many year, I am glad I left. I would not be happy being the convenient "cash cow" for every group of residents pushing some pet project. I placed relatively few demands on city services, yet paid a lot property taxes through the rent I paid."

You would have been exempt if you were below 10,000 sq feet.

Hah, if only the City actually compared how people who live here use city services compared to businesses! All those services that the City threatens to take away.

What happened to the business registry?




Posted by Interested Reader
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 5, 2022 at 2:08 pm

Interested Reader is a registered user.

To those complaining that $9.8 Million a year is not a lot, consider this... the money gets split 3 ways - Grade separations, affordable housing and police/fire services - so roughly $3.2 M per priority.

For grade separations, Palo Alto has $350 Million available from Measure B (raised in 2016) - but that money can only be accessed with a local match. Measure K would provide that local match and bring in over $100 Million - and all of that money combined would be used to apply for matching grants from the Feds (which require local and regional funding). Every penny matters because even the cheapest option for each grade separation would require a lot more money.

For affordable housing, the money gets pooled with other revenue sources (like development fees) to pay for upcoming projects - some examples of what this pays for are the recent LifeMoves/Project Home Key project transitional housing project where the city committed over $1 million per year toward operations, medical, and mental health services, the upcoming Charities Housing (3001-3017 El Camino Real) at the former Mike's Bikes site which would be 129 very low-income apartments for homeless families and individuals, and the Fry’s Site - 340 Portage Ave - where they're looking to devote 1 acre to be a city-owned site dedicated toward affordable housing.

For Police and Fire - we have steadily cut services for years when our risks and need have actually increased.

This tax should be supported - not bemoaned. These are real priorities that need funding and it makes sense to have the largest businesses in town help pay for these critical needs.


Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2022 at 2:23 pm

resident3 is a registered user.

@interested reader,

Your definition of “matching” funds is very deceptive, mixing up sources, dates, and the kitchen sink but the business contribution is still a paltry $9 million, an embarrassment and shameful that lobbyists threatened and forced what the money could be spent on.

No amount of “pride” rehabilitation will help here.


Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 5, 2022 at 4:01 pm

Local Resident is a registered user.

Although I know many folks (including myself) wish the business tax was more, its much better to pass this than nothing. Also, the matching multiplier from state for affordable housing and caltrain crossings is substantial. Conversely without this we will not have funds for either and have to cut fire and police services to where they were during the pandemic.


Posted by Neal
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 5, 2022 at 4:53 pm

Neal is a registered user.

There is a jobs-housing imbalance. To correct this, there needs to be a much bigger tax to encourage businesses to relocate elsewhere. I'm voting "No" and hope the CC will come up with a more onerous tax plan.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 5, 2022 at 5:04 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"Hah, if only the City actually compared how people who live here use city services compared to businesses! All those services that the City threatens to take away.

Scanning the police blotter shows maybe half the police calls are to Stanford Shopping Center -- making them a disproportionate user of police services.

What happened to the business registry?"

Nothing. Pity there are no competent techies anywhere near here who can build and maintain a database. Expect the same nothing to happen to the Renter's Registry.


Posted by mjh
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 5, 2022 at 7:19 pm

mjh is a registered user.

It took ten years to get this propsed business tax on the ballot. If this tax ballot fails it may take another ten years get a second shot at a business tax. Plus a couple more years to get collection up and running as the business tax is phased in. Meanwhile, missing out on twelve years of the business tax and with no assurance it woukd pass in the future. And Palo Alto will continue to be the only city on the peninsula without a business tax. So I will hold my nose and vote yes.


Posted by Jerry
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2022 at 10:55 am

Jerry is a registered user.

"Palo Alto [is] the only Silicon Valley city without a business tax"

Everybody else is doing it, so it must be a good idea! Lemmings, anyone?


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