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March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
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City of San Jose
Measure E - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results


120,969 votes yes (53.46%)

105,290 votes no (46.54%)

100% of precincts reporting (220/220).

495,424 ballots counted.

To fund general City of San José services, including affordable housing for seniors, veterans, disabled, and low-income families, and helping homeless residents move into shelters/permanent housing, shall an ordinance be adopted enacting a real property transfer tax including unrecorded transfers at these rates: EXEMPT transfers under $2,000,000 adjusted for inflation, $2,000,000 to $5,000,000 at 0.75%, $5,000,000.01 to $10,000,000 at 1.0%, and over $10,000,000 at 1.5%; generating approximately $70,000,000 annually, until repealed, with all money staying local?

What is this proposal?

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by  League of Women Voters of San Jose/Santa Clara 

The Question

To fund general City of San José services, including affordable housing and helping homeless residents move into shelters/permanent housing, shall an ordinance be adopted enacting a real property transfer tax, exempting transfers under $2 million adjusted for inflation?

The Situation

Currently San Jose has a real property transfer tax (Conveyance Tax) with a rate of $3.30 per $1000 based on the sales price of a property.  Revenue from this Conveyance Tax is dedicated to capital needs of parks, libraries, fire and other city facilities.  It generates about $38 million per year.  Measure E would add revenue.  

The Proposal

Measure E would provide additional revenue from a real property tax when property is transferred from one party to another.  The amount of revenue from the transfer would be based on the sales price or fair market value of the property transferred from one entity to another.    However, the Measure exempts transfers valued under $2M, inflation adjusted. The tax must be paid whenever a title change occurs to real property in the City, and when there is an ownership change in a legal entity (e.g., a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company). Unrecorded transfers would be included, but some transfers, such as those involving gifts, inheritance, divorce, court ordered foreclosure, partnerships, and some bankruptcies, would be exempt from the tax.


This is a general tax for unrestricted general purposes, although the current City Council has voted that revenue generated will be spent to increase the supply of affordable housing in San Jose.   45% of the revenue from Measure E would be spent on housing for those earning less than 30% of median income (MI); 35% will go for those earning 30-80% of MI; and 10% of the revenue will be spent on those who make 80-120% of MI.  An additional 10% will be used to provide homelessness prevention activities and rental assistance.  Administrative costs of 5% will be taken before fund allocation.


Measure E requires that the City Manager conduct an annual financial audit and submit a yearly report of the revenue collected. The City Council will be required to appoint a community oversight committee to review expenditures of these revenues. This addition to the Municipal Code can be repealed by City Council at any time, but any 

Fiscal effect

Beginning July 1, 2020, transfer taxes will be imposed at these rates applied to the full value:

-       Under $2,000,000:  exempt

-       $2,000,000 to $5,000,000: 0.75%,

-       $5,000,000.01 to $10,000,000: 1.0%,

-       $10,000,000 and up: 1.5%.


It is projected that Measure E will generate approximately $70,000,000 annually, until repealed, and all money will stay local.  In Santa Clara County, payment of such taxes is generally split evenly between buyer and seller.  A property selling for $3M would owe $22,500 in transfer tax, while one at $7M would owe $70,000.   


Beginning July 1, 2025, the exemption threshold of under $2M will be automatically adjusted every 5 years, based on the Consumer Price Index or its replacement.  The City Council can also increase the exemption threshold (but not the rates) at any time.  The threshold may not fall below the original level. 

Supporters say

-       Our homeless community has increased 40% since 2017, and the measure has won support from a broad coalition of community groups.

-       It will help make it easier for many hard-working residents to afford to live in San Jose.

-       It only taxes the sale of properties worth more than $2M – less than 2% of all property owners.

 In support:


Opponents say


-       Since 2014 SJ voters have passed new citywide taxes, costing taxpayers $92M annually, and countywide 2 new taxes have been approved.  Enough is enough.

-       Measure E is a $70M general tax, so future City Councils can spend the money on anything they choose.

-       This new tax will make it more expensive to acquire properties for development, so fewer homes will get built.


 In opposition:

More information

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Who supports or opposes this measure?

Yes on Measure E

Organizations (1)

Elected & Appointed Officials (0)
No on Measure E
Organizations (0)
Elected & Appointed Officials (0)

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