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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Revenue Numbers From Contested Real Estate Tax Reveal $3.4 Million Boon For City Hall

Real Estate Transfer Tax Rains Money 
on Emeryville

Emeryville's general fund received $3.4 million in calendar year 2015 under a new real estate transfer tax voted in by the electorate in November of 2014 according City Hall, an amount far exceeding what the City has hauled in during any other year for these transactions.  The tax, called the Real Property Transfer Tax (RPTT), was dramatically increased when Emeryville voters passed 2014's Measures U&V that transformed the town into a 'charter city' that enabled the revenue increase on real estate transfers and was panned in the run up to the election by the business community and outside lobbying groups including the powerful Sacramento based California Association of Realtors.

Jac Asher

Urged passage of the
real estate transfer tax
in spite of dire warnings
from Sacramento lobbyists. 
The formerly cash strapped Emeryville took in a $3,397595 windfall for 2015, the first full year of transfer taxes at the new rate which became effective on January 1st, 2015 the City announced last week.  This compares to calendar year 2014 under the old tax rate when the City took in just $475,001 despite a vigorous real estate churn.  Before Emeryville voters approved the switch, real estate taxes were charged at the rate of 55 cents per $1000 of value, the maximum a 'General Law' city can charge versus unlimited but set at $12 by the City Council now that Emeryville is a 'Charter City'.  By comparison, one real estate transfer last year, the sale of Emery Tech on Hollis Street, netted City Hall's coffers more than a million dollars alone.

Supporters of the Charter City Initiative, including its chief backer and progenitor Councilwoman Jac Asher, told voters before the November 2014 election much revenue could be gained by raising the tax rate and the numbers released last week tend to vindicate Ms Asher.
Emeryville had stood alone as a general law city among its charter city neighbors Ms Asher reminded voters and the City Hall had left some $21 million on the table with its former anemic 55 cent rate over the last few years.
Jason Crouch
Real estate salesman
and former Chair of the
Emeryville Chamber of Commerce:
If Emeryville voters approve
this real estate transfer fee,
"It's the beginning of the end
for Emeryville". 
The NO on Measures U&V side said passage of the Charter City Initiative and the increasing of the real estate transfer tax would bring a domino effect of general business failure and real estate collapse to Emeryville, even possible bankruptcy for City Hall.  Former Chamber of Commerce Chair Jason Crouch posited himself as point man for the NO on Measures U&V and he hosted public forums warning of the dire consequences to befall Emeryville if the voters said yes to the higher tax rate even though at $12 per $1000, the new rate is still lower than what Berkeley or Oakland charges.  "It will be the beginning of the end for the Emeryville we know and love" the Vallejo resident said.

Voters soundly rejected incessant pleadings in the 2014 election from the NO side in the form of volumes of mailers from portions of the Emeryville business community and especially the California Real Estate Association who dumped more than $85,000 to defeat the two measures.

The money from the new tax, more than $300 for every woman, man and child in Emeryville, pays for among other things, sidewalk repair, park maintenance, street maintenance, landscaping and other needed infrastructure work.


  1. Does Jason even work in this town anymore? Time for Brian to drop this guy. He's irrelevant. Concentrate instead on Jac Asher and her good idea for our town. Good going Jac! This is a lot of money we wouldn't have been able to net. Thanks for all you do for us.

  2. Another yee-haw for Jac.

  3. Crouch and his false prognostications are very much relevant. His influence on the council and general, "what's good for the real estate market is good for emeryville" gospel held sway over the council for decades. He vowed that communist policies such as a real estate transfer tax would make the sky fall. It hasn't. While I think the tax is unreasonably high at $12, it was absurdly low at 55-cents.
    Wasn't crouch the guy caught up in that elevator humming scandal?

    1. $12 is the same as what the City of Alameda charges but lower than Berkeley or Oakland at $14. Is the whole region 'unreasonably high'? Seems Emeryville is charging the market rate or even lower.