The “Hard Times” Generation

60 Minutes coined the phrase last night for the children of today. Today’s children will be the largest American generation to be raised in hard times since the Great Depression.

That’s some serious characterization of how hard life has gotten for so many…so what the f-bomb do the Yay-on-A folks think is going to happen to our city under their exorbitant tax?!

I’ll tell you: people won’t be able to afford this additional increase. There will be more Free Lunch kids. The housing market will stall even further as housing sales fall, rents increase, and renters find cheaper cities to live in. Independent businesses will be hard pressed to survive as their costs of doing business becomes impossible; many will fail, other’s won’t even bother opening up shop in Alameda. Think: EMPTY storefronts, houses, apartments.

Measure A is one messed up proposal. It intends to be both:

A. as socially-progressive (leftwing) as Berkeley and

B. as conservative (rightwing) as Texas


1. having the highest school parcel tax in the SF Bay Area (relative to Median Family Income) and

2. placing that exorbitant tax burden squarely on the middle and lower classes.

At a time when the middle and lower classes and small businesses can ill afford any additional increases. The following extremely challenging conditions we are ones we are faced with now and this fall. They are not optional (while Measure A is 100% optional [vote NO]):

-Cost of Gas: 25+ increase

-Cost of Food: 10% increase

-Health insurance premiums are rising 20% or more (over 40% for some)

-Unemployment is at 9 percent, job creation is S-L-O-W

-Estimated poverty rate for children in this country: 25%.

-Consumer Wages, Spending and Core Index – everyone in the US is pulling back on discretionary spending (non-essential spending)

-The Pending Homes Sales index dropped = a stalled housing market in the spring (real estate’s best season)

-1 million new foreclosures expected in the US this fall on top of the millions we’ve already seen

**FACTS** (remember those?) …

AUSD could be more efficiently run; it has more administrative employees per student than other school districts with larger highschools: 5% more than Berkeley (a single high school for 3,500 students), 5% more than Pleasanton (two high schools, 2,500 students each school), 23.5% more than Fremont (9,500 high school students).

If passed, Measure A will be the final straw that broke the back of the middle class, small businesses and landlords in Alameda (and how do you think that will affect the schools and our quality of education?!). For all residences and businesses under 25,000 square feet, the cost of the school parcel tax will rise–for all but the tiniest parcels–from a 55% increase to 2,500% increase!

1500 SF:  55% increase

2,000 SF: 107% increase

2,500 SF: $159% increase

3,000 SF: 211% increase

3,500 SF: 262% increase…

24,999 SF: 2,500% increase

Which translates into:

The owner of a six unit apartment building of 6,000 square feet who now includes $50 in each annual rent amount to cover the cost of existing school parcel taxes, will now be faced with a $1,920 tax bill and be forced to increase  $270 per unit per year.

The owner of a 12-unit apartment building with 12,000 square feet who now includes $25 in each annual rent amount to cover the cost of existing school parcel taxes, will now be faced with a $3,840 tax bill and be forced to increase the rents by $295 per unit per year.

And each of those renters is already seeing their cost of living soar 25%+ from other factors which they cannot control (food, gas, transportation, healthcare). Renters then do something about they costs they can control: they move.  New homebuyers do something about the costs they can control: they buy in another city that won’t have to pay, for example, the $800 per year school parcel tax and the $298 per year hospital tax, where they won’t have to pay $1,100/year EVERY YEAR adding up to thousands and thousands of very real dollars over time.

The burden of Measure A is too great to bear. The ratio of Measure A Parcel Tax dollar amounts as a percent of  Median Family Income is sky high:

1,500 Square Feet (SF): .51%

2,000 SF: .68%

2,500 SF: .85%

3,000 SF: 1.02%

SCHOOL PARCEL TAXES in OTHER CITIES are WAY WAY LOWER and more importantly, DO NOT OVERBURDEN THEIR RESIDENTS. All flat taxes where large parcels (businesses) pay the same rate as homeowners, shown below as percent of Median Family Income:

Fremont: .05%

Pleasanton: .07%

Sunnyvale: under proposed 2011 Measure, .07%

Cupertino/Fremont Joint: .09% — under proposed Measure B, .19%

San Mateo: .19%

Palo Alto: .38%

Los Altos: .32% — under proposed Measure E, .43%

Berkeley: .62%

We should be following the lead of Guv’Nur Brown. The only solutions that will work in today’s world require that we “boldly go against the grain to do what works today” (Dowd, New York Times, 3/6/2011). And that’s not Measure A.

Why doesn’t what used to work yesterday not work today?

If you’ve noticed, the middle class is broken. We cannot easily survive let alone generate wealth like our parents did. The US economy has been slowly disfavoring the middle class for decades, and the results are in: we are in a serious decline.  The top 400 wealthiest people in the US control more assets that those of 155 million Americans combined. And Measure A continues this trend by placing the burden for supporting schools squarely on the middle class which cannot survive intact with any more of this kind of torture. Our city will fail.



About Denise Lai

Alive. Swim (fly is the best). Walking with my dog (weims are the best). Life is good. Would prefer people understood negative externalities and prevented themselves from creating them. Feeling the love anyway. View all posts by Denise Lai

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