Measure K - Voter Guide Statements

Statements appearing in the official county voter information guide:


Argument Against Measure K


This measure would create a new business tax to be levied on particular types of businesses for operating in Palo Alto, a Floor Area Tax (FAT).


Two principles apply to most things we do:

  • Moderate scarcity and spareness is the root of great work.
  • Timing is (nearly) everything.


To attempt to raise taxes right at the end of the Covid pandemic, in a time of spiking inflation and recessionary pressures, smacks of the worst possible timing -- and Palo Alto spending is hardly moderate. In addition, the past four years have seen a steady reduction in Bay Area population.


The usual justifications for a tax are:

  • Government needs money.
  • Punishment for behaviors society wants to discourage.


Neither applies in this case.


Palo Alto is already among the top 5 municipalities in the entire state with the highest spending per capita. At $9904 per capita (2020 figure) we are far outside the norm of about $2000 for other California cities. A new tax at a time when Palo Alto coffers are already overflowing with money and is already spending so much will contribute little of usefulness to the kind of Palo Alto our residents would like to have.


Furthermore, the elements of this proposal that single out different kinds of businesses as taxable, while others are not, implies a considerable value judgment being made about which kinds of businesses we 'like' as a city. It's hard to see why the specific businesses exempted by this proposal are of particularly more social value than others not exempted.


This measure therefore has horrendous timing, a high level of arbitrary inequity built in, and does little to improve city services as promised.


We urge you to vote NO on new taxes.


Vote NO on Measure K.


Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Measure K


The notion that the city will collapse without new taxes is absurd. Almost every city in California manages to survive and thrive while spending far less per capita than Palo Alto.


A temporary shortfall from the pandemic is not a good reason to start a permanent new tax.


A temporary shortfall should be the time to take a hard look at city spending, to sort out what's truly essential, which expenses can be deferred, and whether we really need to pay so many employees such high salaries to get the job done.


Don't be fooled by the claim that this tax is "modest" and "reasonable". Taxes usually start out small. That's how politicians sell them to us. But once a new type of tax exists, it becomes relatively easy to raise it. They will alway cite some "critical service" as an excuse – over and over again!


How is this tax "fair"? All taxes are inherently unfair, because they take money by force from people who had better uses for it. But in addition to that, this tax is plainly an attempt to tax only certain businesses.


Larger businesses are already paying lots of taxes. Imagine what Palo Alto would be like without those businesses and the taxes they pay now!


More and more businesses are moving from California to lower-tax states. No single tax is the cause, but they all add up. Let's not make the problem worse.


No new taxes!


Vote NO on Measure K.