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Island poll: Parcel tax poll results

Submitted by on 1, March 29, 2010 – 5:00 am18 Comments

The results are in on The Island’s parcel tax poll: Seventy-two percent of you said you’d vote in favor of the replacement school parcel tax heading for a May-June ballot. The measure will ultimately need the approval of two-thirds of voters to pass.

Twenty-eight percent of the 149 voters in the poll said they’d vote against the tax, which would replace the current Measure A and Measure H taxes with a new one that would cost homeowners $659 a year for eight years and commercial property owners 13 cents per square foot of lot per parcel, with a cap of $9,500 a parcel. (The mail-only ballot for the tax, dubbed, Measure E will go out in late May and be due in by June 22.)

Turns out you had a lot to say about your vote, too.

Proponents said they want quality schools in Alameda both for the kids and to help maintain property values. And they said Alameda Unified has clearly made its case for why it needs the money and how it will be spent to maintain a quality education.

“I’m going to vote for the parcel tax because our schools need the money. The Alameda USD is very lean organization compared to other schools and has done an admirable job of making more from less,” said Lori. “The proposed parcel tax is modest and much needed. It is time to realize that we can no longer rely on the state for adequate funding and take matters into our own hands.”

“I will be voting YES. Our schools are among our most important community resources, and they are at serious risk today,” commenter Brad said. “The replacement parcel tax proposal is the product of a thoughtful, collaborative Master Plan process. It asks homeowners to provide $1 more per day than they currently pay under A/H to prevent draconian cuts in the schools. There is an exemption for our senior citizens. Businesses will pay less than they currently pay under A/H.”

Opponents said they think the district can and should find other ways to raise the money before asking the voters for more. And they said the school system is too irreparably broken to save, even with more money.

“Alameda’s school district has excess capacity which can either be consolidated or sold off. Once this is done and we still need more money, then I’ll vote yes,” Espresso911 wrote.

“There are or were great schools here, really? Where?? The private schools maybe,” H. Ewert said. “So, if you have a broken faucet–throw money at it–does not fix it. The schools need fixing–not money thrown at them.”

Commenter Steve said that even though he’s “getting pretty grumpy” about rising taxes, fees and tolls during what may arguably be one of the worst economies our country has ever faced, he’s going to “hold (his) nose” and vote yes because he believes the schools do need the money. (He also said he got a property tax reduction last year, which would cushion the blow of the $350 increase he’d face under the new tax.)

“My gut tells me that the public sector hasn’t even begun to do the necessary belt-tightening that’s been going on in the private sector for the last two to three years. And each time budget cuts are discussed, we hear a dozen reasons why such cuts will bring about the end of the world as we know it,” he wrote. “I don’t mean to single out AUSD by any means – this is happening on a national and state level as well. But my patience is wearing thin and I don’t know how many more of these parcel taxes I’ll vote for.”

The poll is closed, but we’d still love to know what you think. So feel free to drop us a line in the comment section below.


  • Sue T. says:

    I hope everyone who is planning to vote No read the article in the Chronicle yesterday about how the perceived quality of a school district affects home prices. Long story short, people are willing to pay an enormous premium to buy homes in districts with good schools. The extra few hundred dollars a year could come back thousandfold if you ever need to sell your home.

  • sherman Lee says:

    Why is it that everyone who is against the parcel tax says the school district should find the money “somewhere else”?? After looking at school district budget for the last several years, I would like to know where you find 12-16 millions dollars “somewhere else”

  • Barbara Thomas says:


    First place you look is to our state to create an equal funding formula for all students. The antiquated formula cheats Alameda and Oakland since the military left 15 years ago. Why should students in Emery, Dublin, Pleasanton get way more than Alameda students? Then go back and look at the budget after the millions are added.

    It is easy to say parcel tax parcel tax parcel tax (just like Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice), rather do the research and push to elect competent officials that will create an even threshold for each child in California. Without it however, each new batch of parents will be forced to campaign for a parcel tax every two or three years, instead of getting to the root core. As a result each time a new parcel tax is presented, it will appear to those who have paid taxes every year to see their taxes go more to other children in other cities within in our own County. And to pay for extra services for out of district children that AUSD lets in to prop open the less desireable schools in AUSD’s district.

  • Jack B. says:

    They (school board, PTA, teachers, parents… you?) are trying to change things at the state level, but right now it simply isn’t working because a) the state is hurting as you know; and b) us getting our fair share takes $$’s away from those other districts, which of course aren’t so anxious for equalization. As much as you hate to hear it… THERE IS NO OTHER CHOICE. The community can stick up for our schools… or not.

  • Lauren Do says:

    Barbara Thomas: Which are the “less desirable schools” in AUSD and by what criteria have they been judged so?

    Also, if you knew that AUSD has pushed efforts toward funding equalization, would that help you support the parcel tax?

  • Barbara Thomas says:

    The most desriable schools are the ones that don’t accept out of district permitted children, because there is a sufficient number of children in the neighborhood district to keep the school at capacity.

    If AUSD had successfully pushed towarding funding equalization, of course nearly everyone who could afford it would vote for additional parcel taxes. Especially if it did this every time it pushed for a parcel tax. Instead, it pretends to wait until the last minute. And says “Oh my gosh, there just isn’t time, the children need the money NOW or disaster will happen.” Again. AUSD has hired consultant after consultant for YEARS to push the parcel taxes and litigators to defend Measure H. How much has it spent to lobby for equalization? How many letters did AUSD ask parents to write to their elected officials, SENATE PRESIDENT PERATA and ASSEMBLYWHIP WILMA CHAN last time? This time? Just a stamp or an email? If every district that received a lesser and disproportionate amount would simply join to do this, then the rest of the voters and taxpayers would feel a lot better about being asked to pay more.

    Instead we just get parent groups who comprise 12% of the residents, demanding that the other 88% pay more because they have a very vested interest in the outcome.

    If one has only lived here for one parcel tax, one might be optimistic that AUSD would actually spend the money on CORE education. Seeing 3 school parcel taxes, (none of them committed/delivered to CORE education) one hospital parcel tax, with another hospital parcel tax in the wings for earthquake proofing Alameda Hospital, makes those on fixed incomes prioritize. And at least the Hospital can be used by the rest of the community.

  • Jack B. says:

    Barbara, I’ve only been an AUSD parent for 4 years but I have been asked on numerous occasions by the school and PTA to attend rallies in Sacramento and send emails/letters to our representatives. I understand and share your frustration but in researching this issue I am seeing that blaming the school board does not solve the problem.

    I am in agreement that I would like to see focus on CORE academics as reason for adequate funding. And that is the reason for supporting this parcel tax. It’s going to be a lot harder to teach K-3 kids how to learn to read and write when there are 32 kids/class. Keep in mind that demographics being what they are in Alameda, many of those kids in that K class come from families who barely speak english. I know this from experience as a volunteer in the classroom. It’s not like it used to (homogenous.)

    And let’s be clear… this new parcel tax REPLACES the other 2.

  • Mark Irons says:

    Ms. Thomas, if AUSD received the state average, which is the most we would ever get out of the total pie, we would only gain $600,000 a year, which is far short of the $14-$16 million short fall. With huge new cuts at the state level I don’t think we’d even get $600,000. If you stand on principle and refuse to support the parcel tax because theoretically the state should fund us you essentially cut off your nose to spite your face. The state needs to be sued not just to fund all schools equally, but adequately. We need to lower the 2/3 threshold at every level, from ballot box to legislature. And then we should look to a series of other taxes like car tax which should never have been rolled back, because the state can’t fund schools with money it doesn’t have.

  • Lauren Do says:

    Every school in Alameda accepts, at the very least, one out-of-district student, are you suggesting that all schools in Alameda are not desirable? If folks from outside of Alameda want to send their kids to Alameda schools, wouldn’t that speak to the desirability of Alameda schools?

    Also, as a former political official, you will know that issues such as equalization of funding that will affect other jurisdictions is not an easy task. As Jack B. mentioned, Alameda’s gain would come at a substantial loss to other communities. It takes more than a few letters and two or three state congressional representatives to create that sort of legislative magic. Those communities will have their own representatives pushing back as hard as ours are pushing forward.

  • David M says:

    The ultimate solution is easy. Fight to reduce the amount of money the federal and state government takes from our community. Stop voting for progressives, unless you are all for making us more dependent on government.

  • Troy Staten says:

    I think it is simple if the parcel tax does not pass and the district is forced to close 6 schools do you think property values will go up,down or stay the same. Good well funded schools = higher property values.

  • tai says:

    Still undecided. But if this whole mess forced me to make a decision to send my kids to private school, I will definitely vote no. I can’t afford private school and high property tax. May be we need to cut expenses because these parcel fees never seems to end.

  • David Hart says:

    If you can’t afford an extra $350, you certainly can’t afford private school. Voting yes, and paying the extra 350, is strongly in your best interest.

  • tai says:

    All the $350s add up.

    We already have a bunch of other taxes and fees on the property tax. There are hospital tax and ac transit fee. The number of buses run in Alameda is pathetic.

    I have my own budget to balance. I probably reluctantly vote for it. But I rather have this money in a trust account than to let the politicians play with the money.

  • David Hart says:

    School parcel taxes, if E passes, will be $659/yr.

    Private school can easily run 20-30x that. I’d be voting enthusiastically, rather than reluctantly.

  • Michelle says:

    I will be voting no. I work at the lowest paid job in the city of Oakland and due to furloughs my income is lower than it has been in years and I am treading water. I live in a cottage that is only 420 sq ft. My take home pay is $24,000 per year and I am paying over $7,000 dollars in income and property taxes. By the time I finish paying for my house it will have cost me 3 times the original purchase price because of the interest.

    Between the mortgage, home insurance, a low income rehab loan I got from the City of Alameda to give me running water in my bathtub and shower for the first time in the 10 years I have lived here, and all the utility bills I pay, food, dog food,(treats, heart worm medicine, flea medicine) and bus fare (I don’t own a car), I have had about $200 dollars or less left over per month and I need that for toiletries and other odds and ends. I recently had to buy 1 1/2 pairs of glasses (my insurance paid for a half), which due to my extremely strong prescriptions cost $600, which took my savings down to $0. I had planned on trying to buy a new energy efficient refrigerator, but can’t afford one now.

    God forbid I should have a plumbing or roofing emergency, or my dog should get sick. Many people who are against this tax are not being “ungenerous” at all, they just don’t have any money left to give. I rarely eat out at all any more and I feel guilty enough about that, as I feel I am not adding to the economy, but I just cannot afford to.

    I guess we “low income” people who bought tiny houses in Alameda when they were priced low enough for us to afford are just no longer welcome in Alameda. When we purchased the small houses we did so because the houses, and the taxes associated with them, were affordable. It has become obvious that many Alamedans want us to sell our houses so that people who are paying a higher tax rate can move in. The only problem with that is, two of the cottages in my court have been foreclosed on in the last month. Both cottages were purchased at over three times the price I paid for mine. Which would mean that after they had paid for them, their 420 sq ft cottages would have cost nearly a million dollars. My taxes may not be as high as theirs’ was but at least I am still in my house and able to pay them, for now anyway.

  • sean says:

    the vetoing proses is a little sneaky on measure e …people within the prop 13 circle ,, who pay nearly nothing for property taxes who can ”opt” out of paying the tax as well.. can vote to raise my property taxes ..i am all for good schools but ”i think AUSD needs to get the house in order ..if they get the tax they will ask for more next year …I have to get my house in order or it is foreclosure for me …this is not helping in a bad economy this will make it worse ..

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