HMB Sales Tax

A ballot measure from November 2020 has quietly raised the sales tax in several Bay Area counties to fund the state’s rail service.

Last year, voters passed Measure RR, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board District’s rail service tax, which authorized an additional sales tax of 0.125 percent, or one-eighth of a percent, in San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties for the next 30 years. The increase will generate an estimated $100 million per year for Caltrain service.

The measure, which passed with 69 percent approval in November and took effect on July 1, raises San Mateo County’s tax rate from 9.25 percent to 9.375 percent. With the increase, Half Moon Bay is now one of 20 cities in San Mateo County with a 9.375 percent sales tax, the county’s average rate, according to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration. That figure is a combination of California’s 7.25 percent and the county’s 2.125 percent sales tax. Unlike other cities in the county, Half Moon Bay does not currently charge its own sales tax.

As of July 1, San Mateo County has the third-highest sales tax in the state, trailing only Alameda (10.25 percent) and Los Angeles (9.5 percent) counties. Out of the 31 cities and towns in the county, Pacifica has the lowest tax rate at 9.250 percent. Several cities, including Daly City, Belmont, Redwood City and San Bruno charge the highest 9.875 percent.

Krystlyn Giedt, the CEO of the Coastside Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Bureau, said she hasn’t heard much concern from local businesses about the increase because it’s relatively small and the charge is passed on to the customer.

“It’s not a huge amount and it’s increased by more in the past,” Giedt said. “I haven’t heard from businesses about it.”

The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, which is composed of representatives from San Francisco, San Mateo County Transit District and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, owns and operates the Caltrain rail corridor from San Francisco to Gilroy. Most of Caltrain’s funding comes from passenger fares, and this measure establishes an alternative revenue stream and helps cover operational costs. The additional funds are meant to increase the speed and frequency of trains while reducing congestion, air pollution and travel costs. Among other expansions, Caltrain will bolster its peak hour service from six to eight trains an hour each direction.

August Howell is a staff writer for the Review covering city government and public safety. Previously, he was the Review’s community, arts and sports reporter. He studied journalism at the University of Oregon.

(3) comments

Steve Hyman

John, I agree with some of what you say and some I don’t. Somethings may change, others won’t.

It’s going to be difficult to raise taxes on companies. And even if you raise their taxes, they’ll most likely pass increase costs on to their customers and maybe hire less people or spend more on automation.

But you’re wrong. Jobs are good and high paying jobs are very good. Higher income people pay more taxes. In fact the top10% of earners pay most of the taxes.

These are the people that pay for all the social services we want. As they leave, less people are paying for those services like buying hotels for homeless people.

As for housing, we have high housing prices cause of a few factors. First we live in one of the wealthiest counties in the country with high incomes and housing prices. As I said for years the Coast is a bargain in comparison to the other cities on the peninsula with home prices being several hundred grand below county average.

Add to that our community’s anti-growth policy suppressing building thereby keeping home prices high and rents too.

Also the future looks very bright for both hi tech and bio tech meaning the Bay Area will continue attracting high income earners.

But my point is a lot of the continual exodus we are seeing is for high income earners leaving the state. These are the ones paying for many of the services we want. At some point, the state’s reduced income may force reductions in social spending.

John Charles Ullom

"What seems to be happening is that many people are leaving CA because the taxes are too high and keep going higher."

It would be better if we taxed the bejezzus out of companies like SalesForce, Uber, Google, Facebook, and Apple. Still too many jobs in California. Jobs attract people. Nimbys prevent housing from being built to accommodate them.

We have too many jobs. and too many Nimbys. We are stuck with the Nimbys. The jobs, we can do something about them. We need to raise corporate taxes until we drive away millions of those jobs and reset the price structure in California.

If a few million high paying jobs move to Texas, the over taxation of our resource's will come to an end. Rents will drop and so will the cost of buying a home. The need for new highways, rail, hospitals, schools, and a lot more will evaporate. The use of water will plummet.

The problem is we tax the wrong people. We tax peons at higher rate than the wizards who invest OPM on Sandhill.

Place the tax on jobs. Tune it so that the folks who live here can afford to live here. The rest can go to Texas or Nevada, Mumbai or Bejing, or someplace else.

A bunch of Liberals in SF decided to help the property owning class make billions. So, they cut taxes on large corporations. Companies like SalesForce moved in. Rents exploded. People who had secure lives suddenly found themselves homeless. And young professionals with tons of money now flood our coast every weekend.

But that won't happen. The billionaires like things the way they are and they call the shots. Real-estate agents have no problem with exploding costs of home ownership. There ae plenty of rich buyers who are more than happy to buy a bungalow and convert it into a small castle. Throw in that there are plenty of rich folks who want to rent on Air B&B. So there will always be rich folks willing to buy houses and convert them into B&B.

And the property owning class? They have no desire to see rents drop. Many of them have borrowed to the max against their appreciating in value properties. A 20% drop in rent would bankrupt millions of them. So taxing the true driver of California overpopulation will not happen.

We have too many jobs and we are choking on them.

Steve Hyman

I agree that its only 1/8% increase. But when you add that to all the other taxes (income, propperty, gas, school, pge, cable, city fees, etc) its starts to add up to a lot of money. And don't forget the increase in the hotel tax to amongst the highest in the country paid by all our vistors and friends. staying here.

I just went on vacation to a nearby state and I was surprised how much cheaper things were there like gas $1.30 less a gallon, sales tax 3% lower, and even the hotel tax was less too.

What seems to be happening is that many people are leaving CA because the taxes are too high and keep going higher. We lost 1 congressional seat in the last census cause of this.

One more thing, these taxes are regressive hurting most the people who can least afford it

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