L.A. voters weigh tax measures on property transfers and parks

A homeless encampment in Los Angeles near a Larchmont school.
(David Zahniser / Los Angeles Times)

A ballot measure that would fund affordable housing and homelessness prevention policies in Los Angeles by taxing property sales exceeding $5 million led in initial returns Tuesday night.

Voters appeared to be rejecting a proposed tax that could support parks, the L.A. Zoo and open spaces in L.A.

The final results may not be known for days or weeks as vote-counting continues.

The most high-profile of the city’s ballot measures, United to House L.A., would slap a tax on high-priced real estate sales. It would impose a tax of 4% on sales above $5 million and 5.5% on transactions above $10 million. The funds would be used to help pay for the construction of new affordable housing, rehabilitate motels and hotels into low-cost housing and buy apartment buildings.


It needs a simple majority for passage.

The money would fund short-term emergency assistance and legal aid for tenants, subsidies for rent-burdened seniors or disabled people, and more.

Neither mayoral candidates Karen Bass nor Rick Caruso supported the tax, which is backed by labor unions, homeless service providers, nonprofit affordable housing builders and others. Mayor Eric Garcetti also supported the measure.

Los Angeles’ November election will feature three local ballot measures.

Nov. 7, 2022

Backers raised more than $4.9 million for the measure.

Opponents had argued the tax could drive up rents and make Los Angeles a harder place to do business. Despite being dubbed a “mansion tax,” most of the proceeds would come from sales of apartment buildings and commercial properties, opponents said.

A group led by the California Business Roundtable, California Business Properties Assn., and National Assn. of Realtors raised more than $6 million to fight United to House L.A. and Measure SP, a separate proposal on the ballot to raise money for parks.

The vague language of Measure SP has led to accusations that the money was being planned to help beautify the city ahead of the 2028 Olympics, which backers denied.

The website for the measure said the funding would “humanely address homelessness in our parks by connecting those in need with appropriate support services,” among other uses.


But Measure SP gained little attention or financial support, even as it was backed by Garcetti and other political leaders.

Election results released early Wednesday showed the measure with about 36% of the vote, far short of the two-thirds threshold that it needs to pass.

The measure would authorize a new parcel tax of 8.4 cents per square foot on residential and commercial buildings, generating about $227 million a year. The tax would drop to 2.2 cents per square foot upon completion of capital programs or in 30 years, whichever occurs first.

Another measure, Proposition LH, was leading in early returns.

It would allow the development, construction or acquisition of up to 5,000 additional affordable housing units in each of the city’s 15 council districts. It needs a majority of votes to pass.

Under the California Constitution, voters must authorize publicly funded affordable housing.

Times staff writer Benjamin Oreskes contributed to this report.