New survey boosts city's push for a business tax | January 21, 2022 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 21, 2022

New survey boosts city's push for a business tax

Finance Committee agrees to exempt hotels, grocery stores from proposed tax

by Gennady Sheyner

At first blush, the results of Palo Alto's latest survey about a potential business tax don't look particularly flattering for city leaders, with a growing number of residents expressing pessimism about the future and dissatisfaction with the local government.

This story contains 1175 words.

Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.

If you are already a member, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Membership start at $12 per month and may be cancelled at any time.

Log in     Join

Email Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner at [email protected]


Posted by Judith Wasserman
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 19, 2022 at 10:36 am

Judith Wasserman is a registered user.

Please please please don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. You could massage this forever. Just pass something and collect the money we should have been collecting for years.
And also, don't listen to the people, usually business owners, of course, who say that businesses will leave Palo Alto for other towns. We are the last city in California (or maybe next-to-last) without a business tax, so where would they go?

Posted by Barbara Gross
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 19, 2022 at 2:49 pm

Barbara Gross is a registered user.

Every new or increased tax should be ascribed to a specific benefit and should NOT go into the general fund. History has shown that councils previous lists of suggested areas of investments for other taxes get diverted without constraints. Increased taxation - including a business tax - should be be passed with a two thirds voting majority.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 19, 2022 at 3:05 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Why exempt the hotels? It's part of what got us into this mess in the first place, depriving of us space for housing and relying on the commuters who overrun us.

Posted by N
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 19, 2022 at 4:18 pm

N is a registered user.

+1 to the comments from Judith and Barbara. This should proceed ASAP to a vote, let's not let "perfect" be the enemy of the good. Specifically, let's not target a single "feel-good" use of the funds as a coupled part of the tax that will limit flexibility as needs (and climate, pandemic, or whatever) change.

First, Palo Alto's policies are *way* too appealing for office jobs, to the detriment of the residents in the city. This has caused infrastructural, traffic, and zoning issues, and ultimately increased the tensions and stakes for developers as adversaries of the community rather than a collaborative members of it.

Our city has by-far the worst imbalance of jobs to housing in Silicon Valley of 3.54 jobs per housing unit [1]. We also have extremely high office space rent, which has distorted the local (re-)development market. This high rent encourages property owners like Sobrato to hold on to dilapidated properties (e.g. Fry's) in hopes of one day convincing/suing/cajoling the council to reverse decades-old zoning to allow for more office space.

We are also the only city in the region without a business tax [2].

1. Web Link
2. Web Link

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2022 at 4:20 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

With the recent news of PPE being left outside in the rain to get destroyed in San Mateo, it is underscoring that government of any type care little about expensive equipment paid for by taxpayers. We know that Palo Alto has wasted so much money in the past. All they appear to want is more money without any scruples about fiscal responsibility.

I am not against a business tax, but I do want to see a much better business plan on how to be fiscally prudent. I don't want to see this money squandered away with nothing to show for it.

Foothills Park/Preserve was an expensive lesson on how not to do things. We are now paying for entry and yet there is no way of knowing how that entry fee is being spent and what the benefits for any Palo Alto resident is in being charged a fee.

When CC work out their list of priorities, I think they should put top priority is being fiscally responsible with taxpayers money. We are not bottomless wallets, and we want to see City of PA providing us with the service we deserve for all the taxes we pay. Adding more money to their coffers will add salt to the wound if they just squander it.

Posted by tmp
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 19, 2022 at 7:01 pm

tmp is a registered user.

The money should be earmarked to buy more public space for parks and open space. The massive glut of office space and businesses that will be paying this tax are also indirectly responsible for the state demanding that we add tens of thousands more homes over the next few decades. None of these homes can be charged to pay for park and open space per the state so the businesses that have made all of these jobs need to pay so that the city can buy overpriced land to put parks and community space on.

Posted by Suzanne Keehn
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 19, 2022 at 7:07 pm

Suzanne Keehn is a registered user.

I totally agree with the comment above!

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 19, 2022 at 8:50 pm

Annette is a registered user.

I agree with both Barbara Gross and Judith Wasserman. A business tax makes sense, but ONLY if the revenue is designated. I will vote for it if the use if designated and against it if it is not.

Posted by mjh
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 22, 2022 at 4:41 pm

mjh is a registered user.

While I have no connection with any hotels, Palo Alto already has a hefty hotel “occupancy” tax, the highest of any other cities in the area I believe. Tough for family run hotels trying to compete. If hotels are included in a new business tax, perhaps the hotel occupancy tax could be reduced to be in line with our neighboring cities.

Posted by John Kim
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 25, 2022 at 12:04 am

John Kim is a registered user.

According to this news article: Web Link taxes should be done on square foot.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.