CA: Proposed Sacramento sales tax ballot measure to fund affordable housing, transit is shelved

Dec. 15, 2023
Three months after proposing a ballot measure to raise the countywide sales tax to fund affordable housing and transportation projects, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg indicated last week that he was backing away from the plan.

Three months after proposing a ballot measure to raise the countywide sales tax to fund affordable housing and transportation projects, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg indicated last week that he was backing away from the plan.

Speaking at a City Council hearing on Dec. 5, Steinberg said: “I don’t think 2024 is the year” for a ballot measure to raise the sales tax.

“Voters are in a bit of a sour mood,” he said. “Times are tough and the world is a little bit fragile.”

Steinberg indicated he would move forward with releasing “a template (of a ballot measure) for my successors and all of you to take and use it, borrow it, steal from it.” Steinberg is not seeking a third term in office and will leave City Hall in December 2024. A draft of the ballot measure is expected to be released early next year.

The mayor floated the proposal of a countywide sales tax at his state of the city address in August. Speaking at a newly constructed affordable housing apartment complex in midtown Sacramento, he proposed raising the sales tax by one half of a percentage point. He said one-third of the revenue would support affordable housing construction, while the rest would fund mass transit, sidewalks and bike lanes.

Steinberg and other top city officials have pressed for a robust and consistent funding source for affordable housing. While Sacramento has made significant progress in opening new affordable housing options in recent years, the city is still thousands of units behind in meeting demand for housing that is affordable to very low- and low-income earners.

An analysis by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments in 2020 determined the city must accommodate nearly 17,000 units of affordable housing this decade to meet demand.

Without a reliable funding source, the city “is never going to meet those aggressive numbers,” Steinberg said at last week’s City Council hearing.

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