(Bloomberg)—Los Angeles voters approved a tax on the sale of mansions and other multimillion-dollar real estate transactions to raise money for affordable housing in the second-largest US city.
The measure, known as Proposition ULA, boosts the one-time transfer tax to 4% for property deals between $5 million and $10 million, and 5.5% for transactions of $10 million and above. The current rate on all sales is 0.45%. The increase takes effect on April 1, and will raise an estimated $600 million to $1.1 billion a year.
The ballot measure received support from almost 58% of voters, according to certified results released late Monday by Los Angeles County officials.
Los Angeles faces worsening wealth inequality that several ballot initiatives have failed to quell. While mansions in tony Beverly Hills and Bel Air sometimes sell for more than $100 million, roughly 42,000 people sleep on the city’s streets, inside cars or temporary shelters each night — up about 2% since the pandemic hit.
Los Angeles County residents need 120% of the area median income to rent a typical two-bedroom apartment, according to a report this month by the California Housing Partnership. That’s the highest rent-to-income ratio of any county in the state.
Creating affordable housing and reducing homelessness are top priorities for Mayor-elect Karen Bass, who takes office Dec. 12 and has promised to declare a homelessness emergency on her first day. Despite that, neither Bass nor her opponent in the mayor’s race, billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso, supported Proposition ULA.
The tax increase would affect about 4% of real estate deals annually in Los Angeles, with 72% of its revenue coming from properties that sell for more than $10 million, according to an analysis by the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies.
The measure was backed by trade unions and housing advocates, including advocacy group United to House LA, the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Critics argued the transfer tax could make housing, including rental units, less affordable due to the potential higher buying costs for landlords.
In 2016, LA city taxpayers approved Measure HHH, a $1.2 billion bond measure to finance more than 10,000 housing units for the homeless. The measure has so far financed 3,420 completed units and 5,446 homes are under construction, according to the Los Angeles Housing Department.
Proposition ULA will dedicate 70% of funding for affordable housing projects and the rest to homelessness prevention.
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