City of Ukiah challenged on validity of voter-approved Measure Y (press release)

City manager calls it "ambush legislation."


UKIAH, 1/23/ 2017 — An anti-tax political group, The Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association, has sued Ukiah as part of a statewide effort to curtail cities’ ability to pass certain kinds of tax measures. The group was founded by Howard Jarvis, father of Prop. 13, and has long been a fixture of the anti-tax movement in California politics.

The following is a press release issued by the the City of Ukiah:



UKIAH 1/23/ 2017- – The Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association (HJTA) has filed a lawsuit against the City of Ukiah, seeking to invalidate Measure Y, the recently passed general sales tax measure that will provide funding for essential services including much-needed street repairs through a half-percent sales tax increase.

HJTA, based in Sacramento and Los Angeles, claims that the advisory Measure Z on the same ballot, which asked the voters whether the revenue from Measure Y should be used to repair and maintain City streets, converted the measure from a general to a special tax. Under Proposition 218, a general tax can pass by a simple majority vote. A special tax imposed for a specific purpose requires 2/3 or more voters in the election to vote in favor. Measure Y passed by a majority vote.

According to Ukiah City Attorney David Rapport, HJTA lost this argument when it challenged a county tax in 1998, relying on Proposition 62 and Article XIII in the State Constitution, which, like Proposition 218, requires a majority vote for a general tax and a 2/3 vote for a special tax. In that case, the court ruled that advisory measures, as the name suggests, are advisory, not binding on the county in that case. Because Measure Z was advisory only, Rapport says that the Ukiah City Council’s intent to use the revenues from Measure Y to repair City streets does not convert it from a general tax to a special tax.

Ukiah City Manager Sage Sangiacomo stated, “It’s unfortunate to be hit with ambush litigation that will cost local taxpayers and deter resources from City services. The City Council conducted a number of open and public workshops and meetings starting at the beginning of 2016 regarding the need for a locally controlled funding source that could be used for street repair and maintenance. During the formation and consideration of the ballots measures, none of the plaintiffs brought forward any concerns now expressed in the lawsuit.”

The complaint was recently served on the City. It will take months before the court will have to decide this case.

Sage Sangiacomo, Ukiah City Manager

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300 Seminary Avenue Ukiah CA 95482-5400 Phone: (707) 463-6200 Fax: (707) 463-6204

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