Local Ballot Measures:
Promoter Pledges to Take Concerts Elsewhere if Tax Measure Placed on Indio Ballot

The promoter of the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals has pledged to move the events elsewhere if a proposed ticket tax makes it to the ballot in the city of Indio, where the large events have been held for more than a decade.

City Councilman Sam Torres has proposed an admissions tax that would cost approximately $36 per ticket. The City Council declined to consider the idea, but Mr. Torres has indicated plans to collect signatures to put the tax on the ballots as a local initiative (he has until August 10 to get a tax measure on the ballot).

Paul Tollett, president of the promotion company Goldenvoice, said in a text message obtained by The Desert Sun, "If the tax initiative … gets on the ballot, we're going to take off 2014; 2015 we'll be at a new facility outside of Indio."

The promoter estimated that the Coachella festival generates more than $1.6 million a year for Indio in sales tax, hotel tax and other revenue, and provides many local jobs.

The tax isn't the only threat to the festival. The husband of a former City Council member filed suit in October to try to overturn the promoter's permit with the city, claiming that the action did not comply with California's environmental laws. (Source: The Desert Sun, July 5.)

In other local ballot measure news:

Paso Robles Puts Sales Tax Increase on November Ballot. The Paso Robles City Council voted July 3 to put a 0.5 percent sales and use tax increase on the city's November ballot. While the council intends the revenue from the tax hike to be used for transportation projects, it bifurcated the issue into two ballot measures in order to get around the California Constitution's two-thirds vote requirement for special taxes. Voters will see a majority-vote measure asking whether the tax should be increased, and a separate majority-vote "advisory measure" that directs the city to spend the revenue on roads. The sales tax hike would stay on the books for 12 years, and the city estimates that it would cost taxpayers an estimated $36 million during that period. (Source: San Luis Obispo Tribune, July 4.)

Marysville City Council Rejects Sales Tax Proposal. The Marysville City Council rejected a plea by a city manager to put a 0.5 percent sales tax increase on the November ballot, with just one council member supporting the idea. City staff tried to convince the council that since eight of the top 10 sales tax generators in the city are gas stations, the tax would be paid primarily by people who live outside the city. Councilman Jim Kitchen said he previously supported the idea, but changed his mind after watching the statewide tobacco tax initiative, Proposition 29, fail in the June election. "The cigarette tax was voted down, and that should have been a slam dunk," he said. "I would see this (sales tax increase proposal) as a waste of effort and money." (Source: Marysville Appeal-Democrat, July 5.)

Porn Condom Measure Qualifies for Los Angeles County Ballot – Includes "Fee" on Producers. When Los Angeles County voters go to the polls in November, they'll have a chance to decide the fate of a local initiative asking whether porn actors should be required to wear condoms during filming. County election officials announced this week that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and other supporters of such a requirement submitted enough signatures to qualify the measure.

The initiative, which the Los Angeles Times describes as "one of the most explicit ever seen on a ballot," also would require porn film producers to pay a "fee" and obtain a permit from the county Department of Public Health.

The city of Los Angeles has a condom requirement for porn actors that took effect in March, but the city is still studying how to enforce it. (Source: Los Angeles Times, July 5.)

Anti-Desalination Activists Qualify Measure for Santa Cruz Ballot. The city of Santa Cruz announced this week that an anti-desalination group has collected enough signatures to put a measure on the city's November ballot. The measure asks voters whether they want the right to approve (or reject) a proposed $115 million facility that would remove salt from sea water to produce drinking-quality water.

The city already has approved an ordinance saying voters must approve the facility before it can be built, but opponents of the plant pressed on with their initiative, saying they were concerned that a new City Council could overturn the vote of the current panel. (Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 3.)

July 6, 2012
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