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Tuesday November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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City of Half Moon Bay
Measure U - 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


4,975 votes yes (72.9%)

1,849 votes no (27.1%)

7,180 ballots counted

To support financial recovery/stability and maintain services, including 9-1-1 emergency response; disaster preparedness; supporting local businesses/residents; and keeping public areas healthy/safe, shall the measure increasing, until ended by voters, the transient occupancy tax from 12% to 14% on July 1, 2021, and to 15% on July 1, 2022 (paid only by hotel/lodging guests), providing approximately $1,500,000 annually in locally controlled funding for general revenue purposes, be adopted?

What is this proposal?

Details — Official information

Impartial analysis / Proposal

The Half Moon Bay City Council has placed Measure on the ballot to approve an ordinance increasing the existing transient occupancy tax (TOT), also known as a hotel tax, within City limits.

This tax is paid by persons, primarily visitors,who rent a hotel room for stays of 30 consecutive days or less. A hotel is broadly defined to include hotels, inns, tourist homes, apartment houses, campgrounds, and other facilities that offer overnight accommodations.

If approved, the Measure would increase the TOT rate from its current 12% up to 15% by 2022. The increase would take place in two steps. The current rate would increase to 14% on July 1, 2021,and to 15% onJuly 1, 2022.

Revenues from the TOT are collected by hotel operators from guests and paid to the City.

The TOT is a general tax, which means that the proceeds are deposited into the City’s general fund to be used for unrestricted general revenue purposes. In placing the Measure on the ballot, the City Council indicated that the proposed tax proceeds could be used for municipal governmental purposes such as emergency response, disaster preparedness, support for local businesses and residents, addressing the impacts of tourism, and maintenance/cleaning of public areas.The Measure does not bind the City to use the proceeds for any particular City services, facilities, or programs.

The Measure if approved would generate approximately $1,500,000 of additional revenue annually for the City’s general fund.

This Measure reserves the City Council’s right to reduce the TOT rate or postpone rate increases without a vote of the people, but it does not permit the City Council to raise the TOT rate above the authorized rate without additional voter approval.

A “Yes” vote on this Measure is a vote in favor of increasing the TOT rate from 12% to 14% effective July 1, 2021, and increasing the rate to 15% effectiveJuly 1,2022.

A “No” vote on this Measure is a vote to maintain the TOT rate at the current rate of12%.

Measure Uwould be approved if it receives a simple majority of “Yes” votes.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against

Arguments FOR

If you are a resident of Half Moon Bay you know how much tourism costs us in terms of wear and tear on our infrastructure and on us from the hassle of navigating weekend traffic jams to the ever-incereasing litter on our beaches. We live in a very special place, one that is expensive to maintain and Measure U will help protect us.

This is why all of us here in Half Moon Bay need you to vote YES on Measure U this November 3rd.

Measure U is NOT a tax on residents. It will be paid for entirely by visitors staying in local hotels, motels, and B&Bs. You will not pay a dime for Measure U.

Measure U will help fund our critical emergency services. Voting YES on Measure U will help insure that these ervices are not cut in the face of the COVOID 19 crisis.

A YES vote will make it possible for public places like Carter Park, Ocean View Park, and all our beaches and trails to remain healthy, safe, and clean for every Half Moon Bay resident.

A YES vote will help preserve the quality of life that we all expect and deserve.

A YES vote on Measure U will provide funding that will be used and controlled locally. No State, county, or other agency will have access to or control of these funds. Ever!

A YES vote on Measure U will provide funds that can help keep Half Moon Bay affordable for teachers, agricultural workers, and firefighters.

Measure U guarantees annual audited financial reports and totaly accountability to you - our neighbors in this little slice of heaven!

Please join your neighbors, the business community, community leaders, and a unanimous City Council in voting YES on Measure U.

For more information, visit


/s/ David Eblovi, Interlocutor

/s/ Paul Grigorieff

/s/ Sally Rarback

/s/ Roy Salume


Arguments AGAINST

The Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) rate should not be increased at this time.  If the increase is passed, the rate in the City of Half Moon Bay will be 5% higher than in unincorporated San Mateo County and on average 3% above other California visitor destinations. The increase in the TOT will inhibit overnight stays in half Moon Bay with many people opting for more affordable day trips. The increase in day trippers will lead to more traffic congestion, pollution, and overcrowding. In addition, an increase in the TOT will drive overnight visitors to stay in nearby areas where they can pay less tax. Overnight visitors fuel a large portion of Half Moon Bay's economy, spending far more than day trippers in our local restaurants and stores that depend on this revenue. The loss of overnight visitors will devastate a fragile tourist economy that is vital to Half Moon Bay.


/s/ Dana Dahl, Board Chair, HMB Hotel BID

/s/ Keith Wesselmann, Treasurer, HMB Hotel BID

/s/ David Vipond, Vice-Chair,  HMB  Hotel BID

Replies to Arguments FOR

Measure U does not guarantee new revenue nor how it's spent. The biggest environmental and infrastructural impacts from visitors come from day-trippers. In 2019, based on hotel occupancy data, the Chamber of Commerce estimates there were over 4 million visitors to the HMB Coastside.  Occupancy of the 13 hotels within the City limits indicate roughly 267,559 of those vistors stayed the night in HMB, paying into the Occupancy Tax. Day-trippers far exceed the overnights. The ideal visitor to HMB spends more money into our local economy by paying for lodging, eating out multiple times, and spending more in our shops. A 3% hike in the Occupancy Tax, during a pandemic whose effects have decreased traveler spending, could further inhibit ideal travelers, pushing them away to other destinations or turning them into day-trippers. Creative solutions to garner funds from the day-trippers would have a large positive impact on City funding and long term revenue. The 13 HMB hotels typically employ, pre-pandemic, about 650 workers. A hike in the Occupancy Tax at such a fragile economic time jeopardizes the full return of those jobs, jeopardizes continued revenue for the Occupancy Tax, and jeopardizes the quickest possible recovery of our local economy.  City of HMB officials have noted that the projected increase in revenue may not be seen for many years to come, therefore this rate increase could wait until November 2022, be less harmful to the business economy, and could see the City receive its projected revenue increase within its projected timeline.


/s/ Dana Dahl, chair, Half Moon Bay Hotel BID

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

The notion that a YES vote on Measure U will result in fewer people staying overnight in Half Moon Bay is not supported by the numbers or common sense. A YES vote on Measure U will mean that a stay in a local hotel will go up in price only $6 for the average $200 room. No visitors to Half Moon Bay are going to make a decision about whether or not to stay the night because of $6 in TOT.

That $6 will go to support emergency services, infrastructure, and road repairs, not to mention keeping our beaches and public spaces clean and user-friendly. It will go to keeping HMB affordable for everyone who lives here.  and it will be collected and spent in full view of the public with complete trasnparency and all funds staying under local control.

The reason people come to Half Moon Bay is that it is a true jewel in California.  Our natural beauty, climate, and community are all welcoming to people from as close by as San Mateo to as far away as the other side of the world. Measure U isn't going to change that one bit.

It is so important that we vote YES on Measure U to ensure that the services and infrastructure in our community are up to the task of supporting all of us who live here and our visitors, too.

Please vote YES on Measure U!


/s/ David Eblovi, Interlocutor

/s/ Paul Grigorieff

/s/ Sally Rarback

/s/ Roy Salume

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