Sales Tax A-Go-Go

Sales Tax A-Go-Goan image of author as the Mad Hatter
by Dante DeAmicis

Last Thursday Clearlake City Council voted 4 to 1 to continue their class war against our poorest residents in the service of real estate interests by sending a whooping new 1% city sales tax to the ballot. This would be in addition to the present 1/2% City sales tax – a legacy of the old Measure P.

It has been a recent tradition to slap a sales tax before the voters each election in Clearlake. No other local funding devices are ever considered. Self appointed, self anointed leaders of the goober pack generally hail from the real estate crowd on the South shore. Their dream is a bigger and better Measure P which also mandated that 63% of the City budget had to go to the police department. Most municipal functions are performed by special districts or private companies. The city of Clearlake is a life support system for a police department.

The limitations of such myopia was even made clear by interim City Administrator Robert Van Nort in 2006 when he reported that nothing was going to improve in Clearlake until Measure P was reformed. The response from the Goobertocracy, then and afterwards, was total silence. Reform? Naw, we got more sales taxes to push.

The Council proved that inconvenient facts are not inconvenient at all if you ignore them. New subdivisions have their roads paid for by developers and tack it on the house prices. In Clearlake’s land rush era people once could buy paper lots in howling wildernesses. Then buyers either formed assessment districts to pave a few roads or bounce around on dirt roads. Assessment districts had a term limit and a point was reached where a majority of land owners did not see the benefit of renewing the assessments.

The result was large tracts where people were living in near third world conditions, courtesy of real estate developers. Clearlake and parts of North shore became poster children for the State Map Act. This law defined an allowable subdivision as something more than abstract lines drawn on a land sale map. Roads that were not major arteries were now considered property related and property’s responsibility. That’s why the new rules require new developers to pay for roads.

These matters are too ethically complex when politics only means “we want it, we need it, and we don’t think anyone can stop us.” The shameless ones see no problem in dinging people who have already taken major hits in their safety nets after the crash of the real estate casino. Placing bets was more important than paying bills in the bubble years, now they want renters to stake them in the streets.

For the Council, the issue is never one of fairness or efficiency. The whole point is to be on the side with juice in Clearlake and you will be rewarded. What’s the reward for declaring open season on those who have nothing and no way to escape? For a part-time councilperson, who is expected to have other means, you get a free $2100 per month health plan. Meanwhile, their tax targets have to take their MediCal chances with the “Deadbud” house of horrors.

The latest sales tax also kicks off money for Code Enforcement. In the context of Clearlake’s class war the word “code” is also a code. The necessary goals of code enforcement should be focused on clear and present dangers to health and safety. In the past they have also been used to pursue social goals often at the expense of civil rights and sustainable practices. The only extra scrutiny that can be justified is on absentee lot owners. If one is not a resident they cannot claim the rights of a resident.

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