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On Balancing Gratitude With Action

Updated: Dec 13, 2018

by Datta Khalsa, Broker

In this time of giving thanks, it is staggering to consider the many lives and homes lost during the past few weeks in the midst of the worst fires on record in our state. This year there is a special level of gratitude for the roofs over our heads, however humble or grand they may be.

And while the fires up North may have temporarily grabbed the headlines, all around us are tragic conditions for others who have lost their homes as a result of being unable to hold down a place to live. The thing is, it’s not just their problem—it also becomes our problem if not responsibly addressed.

As we reflect upon the year, it should be our goal to balance the gratitude for what we have been able to achieve and enjoy, with the moral obligation to be unsatisfied with that which remains to be improved in our world, starting with our community.

Several recent initiatives voted on in this past election focused on housing issues. Two of these, Proposition 10 and Measure M, favored rent control. And while well-intentioned, they would likely have created yet another kind of disaster, destroying the very housing they sought to protect. I for one am grateful for the collective wisdom of the local voters who were able to heed the damaging impacts of rent control on other communities who have suffered its unintended consequences.

On the other hand, it was disappointing to witness the failure of Measure H, which would have provided a means for those who have property to help those without property. This measure would have created up to $140 million in general obligation bonds at an estimated tax rate of $16.77 per $100,000 of assessed value to fund housing for those with median and low income, veterans, seniors, and persons with disabilities, mental health disorders, and substance abuse disorders.

It was estimated that these bonds would have generated $8.6 million annually, with 100% of the revenue staying in Santa Cruz County, compared to the low 12% of our regular property taxes that the State leaves for us once it takes its share.

In all, Measure H would have allocated: $105 million (75%) toward construction of 1,041 rental units and accessory dwelling units; $21 million (15%) toward homeless facilities and year-round shelter; and $14 million (10%) toward loans for first-time homeowners. And while it fell short of the 2/3 super majority that was needed to pass it, the Measure did get support by a 52% majority of voters, showing that there at least exists a “moral majority” among us, which I see as a positive application of a term once coined by a televangelist.

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