Corporate real estate interests have come out in full force to try and defeat a ballot measure to hike taxes on multimillion-dollar property sales.

by Aditi Ramaswami, The Lever

In the coming weeks, Los Angelenos will vote on a ballot measure to hike taxes on the sale of multimillion dollar properties, with the expected near-billion dollars in annual revenue going towards addressing the housing crisis in the second-largest city in America. The initiative has been strongly opposed by real estate interests — from huge corporate landlords to realtor lobbying groups and pro-business groups — who have so far poured more than $5 million into efforts to defeat the measure.

mansion in an upmarket residential neighborhood of Los Angeles. Pacific Palisades, CA.

Measure ULA, which would increase real estate transfer taxes on properties in the city of Los Angeles valued at $5 million or more, would only apply to an estimated four percent of real estate transactions annually. The goal of the opposition, therefore, is all the more apparent: protecting the city’s uppermost echelons of society, including the business interests that helped create the housing crisis for working class and low-income residents.

The fate of the tax initiative could have long-term repercussions across California and beyond on how communities address the plight of people being driven to homelessness — a challenge that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated. If it passes, Measure ULA would pave the way for a bold new approach that involves one of the largest and potentially most impactful “mansion taxes” of its kind, one that’s been designed to have a major citizen-led impact on affordable housing. If it fails, it will demonstrate the power of big business to continue dominating the housing market, making LA an even less affordable place to call home and driving further displacement.

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