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Tuesday November 3, 2020 — California General Election

City of San Luis Obispo
Measure G-20 Ordinance - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results


14,513 votes yes (58.23%)

10,410 votes no (41.77%)

100% of precincts reporting (12/12).

27,280 ballots counted.

Shall an ordinance to provide funding to protect City of San Luis Obispo's financial stability; maintain fire/community safety, health emergency/disaster preparedness; protect creeks from pollution; address homelessness; keep public areas clean/safe; retain local businesses; maintain youth/senior services, streets, open space/natural areas, and other general services, by extending voter-approved funding at a 1.5¢ rate, providing approximately $21,600,000 annually until ended by voters; requiring audits/all funds used locally, be adopted?

What is this proposal?

Details — Official information

YES vote means

A “yes” vote on Measure G-20 means the City will continue to levy the existing ½ percent local sales tax and increase the total rate to 1.5 percent, until ended by the voters.

NO vote means

 A “no” vote means that the existing ½ percent local sales tax will continue only until its current expiration date in 2023, unless extended and/or increased by voters before 2023.

Impartial analysis / Proposal

J.  Christine Dietrick City Attorney, City of San Luis Obispo

In 2014, 70.32 percent of City of San Luis Obispo voters approved Measure G-14, which adopted Chapter 3.15 (ESSENTIAL SERVICES TRANSACTIONS (SALES) AND USE TAX) into the City’s Municipal Code.  Measure G-14 extended for eight years a previously voter-approved ½ percent City sales tax, which is currently included in the City’s seven and three quarters percent total sales tax rate.  Since its original effective date, April 1, 2007, the tax has generated an average of approximately $6.6 million in annual revenue to the City.  Measure G-14 approved a “general purpose tax,” meaning that all revenue raised from the tax can be used to fund any City service, project, facility, or operation approved by the City Council. 

Measure G-14 provided: “The authority to levy the tax imposed by this chapter shall expire in eight years, on March 31, 2023, unless extended by the voters.”  Unless Measure G-20 is approved by a majority of City voters in the November 2020, or subsequent election, the current ½ percent local tax will expire after March 31, 2023, and the City will receive no further revenue from the local tax.

Measure G-20 would amend and re-enact Chapter 3.15 of the City’s Municipal Code (re-titled as “Community Services and Investment Transactions (Sales) and Use Tax”) to continue the existing ½ percent local sales tax and increase the existing tax by 1 percent for a total rate of 1.5 percent.  The City anticipates Measure G-20 will generate approximately $21,600,000 in annual revenue, which can be used for any general city purpose approved by the City Council, including stated purposes of protecting City of San Luis Obispo’s financial stability; maintaining fire/community safety, health emergency/disaster preparedness; protecting creeks from pollution; addressing homelessness; keeping public areas clean/safe; retaining local businesses; maintaining youth/senior services, streets, open space/natural areas. Measure G-20 provides: “The authority to levy the tax imposed by this chapter shall expire when ended by the voters.” 

Measure G-20 would continue the following fiscal accountability provisions included in Measure G-14: 1) Revenue Enhancement Oversight Commission comprised of citizens “…responsible for reviewing and making budget recommendations directly to the City Council regarding expenditures and …reporting annually to the community on the City’s use of these tax revenues”;  2) separate, publicly available accounting and tracking of funds by the City Treasurer; 3) independent annual financial audit; 4) integration of the use of funds into the City’s public budget and goal setting process and citizen participation in determining priority uses; 5) annual community report provided to every household on how much revenue is being generated and how funds are being spent; and 6) annual citizen oversight meeting.

A “yes” vote on Measure G-20 means the City will continue to levy the existing ½ percent local sales tax and increase the total rate to 1.5 percent, until ended by the voters.  A “no” vote means that the existing ½ percent local sales tax will continue only until its current expiration date in 2023, unless extended and/or increased by voters before 2023.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against

Arguments FOR

We have never experienced a threat as menacing to our lives and livelihoods as this pandemic.

But time and again, we have seen San Luis Obispo residents pull together to solve daunting challenges. 

Measure G-20 is a necessary step forward in SLO’s recovery. This sales-tax increase keeps us in line with our regional competitors while generating at least $20 million annually for vital economic and community programs to benefit all residents. 

As concerned residents and your neighbors, here’s why we urge YES on Measure G-20:

  • SELF RELIANCE, LOCAL CONTROL: We cannot count on Washington or Sacramento to help us; we must rely on ourselves.
  • LONG-TERM BENEFITS: Measure G-20 will support much needed investment in open space, water security, road improvements and climate action.
  • HEALTH & SAFETY: It’s essential to improve emergency response times and keep our community healthy and safe.
  • HELP BUSINESS AND EMPLOYEES: Measure G-20 will invest in local businesses so they can survive, expand and increase local jobs.
  • HOMELESSNESS: The pandemic has worsened our housing and homelessness crisis; Measure G-20 will support affordable housing and mental-health services. 
  • QUALITY OF LIFE: San Luis Obispo’s quality of life is not an accident. It’s the product of our residents’ strength, compassion and resiliency, and it requires continuous investment.
  • ACCOUNTABILITY: Measure G-20 requires an independent oversight committee, annual audits and community input to ensure wise spending. If the City Council fails to manage it responsibly, we will vote to end this tax.
  • VISITORS PAY FAIR SHARE: Historically, visitors have paid more than 70% of sales tax revenue, thus paying their fair share.

As voters with different political perspectives and economic interests, we are united in our enthusiastic support of this one-and-a-half percent sales tax. 

Please join us and vote YES on Measure G-20.

s/ Ron Yukelson  Healthcare Executive                                           

s/ Sandi Sigurdson  Non-Profit Executive

s/ Jesse Dundon  CEO, Local Business                                              

s/ Carlyn Christianson City Council Member

s/ Chris Richardson  Local Business Owner




Arguments AGAINST

Amidst the worst pandemic in 100 years and one of the worst economic downturns ever—when so many have lost their jobs and local businesses are trying so hard to survive—our city’s “recovery plan” is to TRIPLE OUR LOCAL SALES TAX.  That’s bad economics and bad tax policy.

That the city wants to eliminate your right to vote every few years to continue or eliminate that tax is undemocratic.  Instead, the city wants a “FOREVER TAX”—we pass it once and that’s that.  It’s a REGRESSIVE TAX that will hit the poor, the middle class, and our struggling small businesses the hardest.

Taking away your right to reconsider this sales tax is just wrong!  It’s a huge step away from responsive city government.

The Council has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on political consultants to manipulate you into believing this sales tax will be spent on needed public improvements.  However, the city can spend the $21.6 million in annual revenue on ANYTHING, like increasing its posh management salaries and expanding its bureaucracy.

The city’s past promises to spend prior sales tax increases on open space or parks were false bait to get your vote.  Just like then, this regressive tax will become the Council’s new slush fund to pursue their pet projects as they please, regardless of what the community wants.

Losing our right to re-enact or reject this tax every few years means that the city can completely disregard public sentiment about how your tax dollars are spent.

With people and businesses suffering from the effects of COVID-19, the timing of this tax could not be worse.  A recent survey of local residents revealed that a large majority opposed new tax hikes.

Please join us in voting NO on Measure G-20.

s/ T. Keith Gurnee Member of the Board of Directors, Livable California

s/ Stewart D. Jenkins Public Interest Lawyer

Replies to Arguments FOR



·         TRIPLES THE CITY’S SALES TAX INCREASE by making the existing tax permanent while adding a 1% tax hike on top of it, forcing struggling families to pay more for clothes, supplies, and other necessities.

·         FUNDS CAN BE USED FOR ANY GOVERNMENT PURPOSE WHATSOEVER. Revenue from this tax goes into the city’s General Fund and isn’t required to be spent on what this measure proposes.

·         CAN BE USED TO INCREASE SALARIES. 11 city execs making more than the Governor and 25 others making more than US Senators can further increase their bloated salaries!

·         GREATER DEBT. The city’s unfunded public pension liability exceeds $175 million and climbing with interest accruing on its pension debt by $1.1 million monthly.

·         “FOREVER TAX” ELIMINATES FUTURE VOTER APPROVAL. Now, voters get to decide every few years whether the sales tax is too high. This measure strips that safeguard.

·         DEGRADES “PROTECTION OF OPEN SPACE” AS MAJOR CITY GOAL. Despite its high priority among residents in community surveys, “Acquiring Open Space” is no longer on city’s list of spending priorities.

·         HURTS MIDDLE-CLASS, SMALL BUSINESSES, AND YOUNG FAMILIES that are already suffering while encouraging locals to shop in other cities with lower retail sales taxes.

The city’s existing sales tax continues to 2023. Why push new taxes now? Let’s give our economy a chance to recover and then give voters the opportunity to rescind or extend this regressive tax at that time.

Please join us in voting “NO” on Measure G-20.

s/ T. Keith Gurnee  Former Councilmember

s/ Brett Cross  Native San Luis Obispan

s/ Lance Parker  Financial Advisor

s/ Stewart D. Jenkins  Public Interest Lawyer

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Measure G-20’s opponents acknowledge the current crisis, but they fail to offer a credible path forward. 

They are choosing to sit on the sidelines and shout NO. 

The way out of a crisis is decisive action at the local level. We can’t wait for Washington or Sacramento to help us, and we don’t want them telling us what to do. 

By approving Measure G-20, we will support one another, invest in our community and achieve our shared goals.  

Measure G-20 revenue will:

  • Support economic recovery.
  • Improve fire, public safety and emergency health response.
  • Ensure wildfire and natural disaster preparedness.
  • Repair potholes, reduce traffic congestion, expand bike lanes.
  • Protect creeks from pollution, preserve open space and natural areas.
  • Retain local businesses and assist with job creation.
  • Fund homeless prevention programs.
  • Support local nonprofits that assist our most vulnerable neighbors.
  • Keep public areas clean and safe.

Because visitors pay 70% of sales tax revenue, Measure G-20 is the fairest and best way to invest in our city without overburdening residents. 

Other key benefits: 

  • SLO’s tax rate will still be the same or lower than many California cities including Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Monterey. 
  • Voters can repeal Measure G-20 at any time. 

These extraordinary times demand action. Measure G-20 is an affordable path forward, a way to help ourselves, and to control our destiny. 

Please join us and vote YES ON MEASURE G-20

 s/ Kevin Harris  Managing Artistic Director

s/ Eric Veium  Climate/Community Activist

s/ Erica A. Stewart  SLO City Councilmember 

s/ Hillary Trout   CFO, Local Tech Busines 

s/ Ty Safreno   Owner/CEO, Local Manufacturing Business








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