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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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City of Palm Desert
Measure T - Majority Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results


14,346 votes yes (74%)

5,041 votes no (26%)

100% of precincts reporting (18/18).

19,387 ballots counted.

To maintain 9-1-1 emergency medical/police/fire response; Palm Desert's long-term financial stability; neighborhood policing/crime prevention; water conservation; street repairs and other vital services, shall an ordinance increasing Palm Desert's short-term general rental tax from 9% to 11%, paid only by hotel guests/short-term renters, generating approximately $2,200,000 annually until ended by voters, requiring independent audits, public oversight, and local control of funds be adopted?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Impartial analysis / Proposal

City Attorney for City of Palm Desert

The City of Palm Desert currently imposes a 9% general tax on rent charged by the operator of any hotel, short-term rental, or similar lodging in the City of Palm Desert for guests staying fewer than thirty days. This tax is called the Transient Occupancy Tax (“TOT”) and is collected by hotel and short-term rental operators at the time rent is paid by the guests. The TOT is set forth in Chapter 3.28 of Title 3 of the Palm Desert Municipal Code. All funds collected from the TOT are deposited into the City’s General Fund.

Measure T, which has been placed on the ballot by the City Council of the City of Palm Desert, proposes the adoption of an Ordinance of the City of Palm Desert which would increase the TOT from 9% to 11%. The additional 2% in revenue represents about $2 million dollars a year to the General Fund.

The proposed TOT is a general tax and may be used for any general governmental purpose of the City, such as police, fire, emergency response, street maintenance, parks and recreational programs. In order for the City to adopt the Ordinance amending its Municipal Code and authorizing the increase in the rate of the TOT described above, Measure T must be approved by a majority vote of the votes cast on the measure.

A “yes” vote on Measure T would adopt the Ordinance increasing the TOT from 9% to 11%.

A “no” vote on Measure T would mean that the Ordinance described above is not adopted and the TOT would remain at 9%.

The above statement is an impartial analysis of Measure T. If you desire a copy of Measure T, please call the elections official’s office at (760) 346-0611 and a copy will be mailed at no cost to you.

By: Robert Hargreaves

City Attorney, City of Palm Desert

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Vote YES on T! Maintain public safety, fiscal stability and our quality of life, WITHOUT taxing home or property owners!

Measure T is a HOTEL TAX PAID ONLY BY HOTEL VISITORS when they spend the night locally. Palm Desert residents, home and property owners are NOT taxed.

We live in Palm Desert for its high quality of life. YES on T will maintain vital services that make Palm Desert a desirable place to live, work, and do business!

Did you know that since the State’s elimination of redevelopment in 2012, our city has lost approximately $40,000,000 every year in critical funds to create jobs, make local improvements and stimulate local economic growth? The State’s Sacramento-focused agenda continues to cost Palm Desert millions!

The Chamber of Commerce and Palm Desert hoteliers support YES on T because it provides funding to protect and maintain our essential services and quality of life – WITHOUT RAISING YOUR TAXES:

  • YES on T protects and maintains 911 emergency medical, police and fire protection/response services
  • YES on T maintains roads and street maintenance
  • YES on T improves water conservation
  • YES on T maintains local control over funds that can only be used in Palm Desert.

Palm Desert’s hotel tax is the lowest in the Valley. YES on T simply ensures the hundreds of thousands of tourists that come to our area – straining public safety services, impacting local natural habitats and affecting our quality of life – pay their fair share for the services they use when they spend the night at local hotels.

Measure T includes fiscal accountability, with all funds subject to publicly available, annual, independent audits of city funds and expenditures.

For information about Measure T, visit

By: Robert A. Spiegel, Palm Desert Mayor

      Laurie Baldwin, IOM President/CEO Palm Desert Area Chamber of Commerce

      Neal D. Lingle, Former Palm Desert Chief of Police, Retired

      Vicky Welsh Morales, 32 year Palm Desert resident

      Sallie Fraser, School Principal

— Riverside County Registrar of Voters

Arguments AGAINST

They’re back again! In 2014, the Palm Desert voters said, by a wide margin, “NO” to a 2% TOT Tax increase which could have been spent for any purpose. Now the City Council is asking for the same tax increase which again can be used for any purpose or given away.

Why you should vote “NO” again:

     1.      No Need – the City has over $50 million dollars in reserves.
     2.      TOT dollars go into the City’s General Fund and can be spent for any purpose but it cannot be dedicated to anything specific including public safety.
     3.      The City Council is already giving TOT back to developers! $1.8 million is pledged to the owners of the new hotel now being built on Larkspur. This begins a “bad” practice for future hotels; to demand TOT rebates which, again,
              comes out of the City’s General Fund. This shows a lack of fiscal responsibility – to give away your income – and ask hotel guests to pay more; many who may be potential residents.
     4.      A low TOT rate benefits our City as convention organizers and tourists often book in a city with lowest costs. Palm Desert has always been that city at 9% but all valley hotels ALSO charge a 3% tourist tax making ours 12%; so
              an added 2% would bring it up to 14%!

Having served as Mayor of Palm Desert for 6 terms and as a councilmember for 32 years, I know that we always looked at tax increases on anyone as a last resort and for emergencies. This proposed tax increase is neither so NO NEED – JUST GREED. I urge a “NO” vote on Measure T.

By: Jean M. Benson
      Past Mayor and Councilmember
      City of Palm Desert

— Riverside County Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments FOR

The answer remains NO!

None of the proponent’s arguments to the “No on T” answers any of the four reasons to vote NO.

1. Palm Desert already has very large monetary reserves.
2. The proposed new tax money can be spent for any legal purpose the city council chooses.
3. The present city council is already giving existing T.O.T. funds away to developers.
4. Our hotel guests already pay their fair share, a total of 12% added to their bill.

No unneeded taxes for any reason on anyone has been the foundation of fiscal responsibility for 43 years in Palm Desert. Raising T.O.T. to amass funds is NOT fiscal responsibility.

Measure T guarantees nothing for police or paramedic response, fire protection, water conservation, street maintenance or any other claim of the proponents. These issues are only impacted by city council decisions and there are plenty of reserves to be wisely spent or saved.

No need equals a “NO” vote on T.

By: Jean M. Benson
      Past Mayor, Council Member
      City of Palm Desert

      Buford A. Crites
      Past Mayor, Council Member
      City of Palm Desert

      Cindy Finerty
      Past Mayor, Council Member
      City of Palm Desert

— Riverside County Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Measure T was placed on the ballot so you – the taxpayer – can decide if continuing to maintain our high quality of life without taxing home or property owners is a priority. If you do, vote YES on T.

Don’t be misled by the rhetoric. Consider the facts:

FACT: Measure T will maintain our City’s long-term fiscal stability without taxing home or property owners. Palm Desert prides itself on fiscal responsibility, including balanced budgets and prudent planning that keep our neighborhoods safe and quality of life better than other Valley cities.

FACT: Measure T keeps Palm Desert’s hotel/motel tax among the lowest in our region and ensures that the tourists who stay in hotels pay their fair share for the vital services they strain, including 9-1-1 emergency medical, police, and fire protection/response services.

FACT: Amid the loss of $40,000,000 in annual revenues used by Palm Desert for critical local improvements and economic development, Measure T will provide a dedicated LOCAL source of funding for OUR needs that won’t be vulnerable to state money grabs – including funding for local police and fire protection, road maintenance and street repair, senior programs, and other vital services that make Palm Desert a great place to live, work and do business.

Measure T is accountable, fiscally responsible and requires local control for local needs t hat benefit our c ommunity. That’s why the Chamber of Commerce, hotels, public safety professionals, and community leaders urge you to vote YES on T.

By:    William R. Kroonen, President Emeritus College of the Desert and former member of the Palm Desert City Council

         Peter Hurley, Resident and Director of Finance of Palm Desert’s Largest Hotel

         Sonia M. Campbell, Local Business Owner and 31 year Palm Desert Resident

         Vincent Battaglia, Owner of a Palm Desert Solar Company and Resident

         Beverly Starcher, Resident and Homeowner’s Association President

— Riverside County Registrar of Voters
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