Vacancy tax is turkey of an idea

 Dear Editor:

Some time ago I said that property owners would be taxed to provide the funds for state-mandated, "affordable" housing. And here we are. Our visual: The camel's nose pokes at the tent bottom in the form of an occupancy tax on unoccupied dwellings in Half Moon Bay (Review, July 27).

This concept is not a new one. In commercial districts, municipalities threaten a "vacancy tax" on property owners who would rather hold their properties off market rather than accept less-desirable tenants (with or without lower monthly rental income). In this situation, the government's desire is to have full occupancy and the appearance of a thriving downtown. The costs are conveniently passed on to others.

From last week’s Review article, "The idea was that a tax on so-called second or vacation homes would discourage buyers from purchasing or owning them, creating more housing available for full-time renters."

No. 1, it is offensive that the government wishes to insert itself into private ownership (sotto voce: rent control), especially in the form of penalties against those whose views do not align with the social goals of the currently elected officials. And please, let's not debate the wisdom of the state mandating housing as a solution while taking zero responsibility for the economic impacts and consequences.

No. 2, home ownership and available rental housing are separate topics. A property owner may elect to offer his/her property for rent at a price he/she deems fair. But not all properties are available for rent — or available for rent at an "affordable” price. Forcing the liquidation, or creating a barrier to the purchase, of an asset does not guarantee that the future buyer will offer the property for rent or offer the property for rent on a short-term basis while residing elsewhere. Thus the "creating more housing for full-time renters" portion of the mission statement is invalid. This is simply a feel-good, tax-those-who-have scheme. (See the first paragraph.)

No. 3, focusing in on those targeted by this proposed tax, it is the second home and vacation home owners who are at risk. They pay the same taxes you and I pay, but because they are not physically here some portion of the year, they do not use the resources of the region. They do not use the roads or the beaches or the parks. They actually subsidize those of us living here full time. New buyers, having spent close to $1 million to find a home to live in, will use the roads, beaches and parks. And because they have no intention of moving, no penalty fees will be collected. Thus no funds going to the affordable housing kitty. And the initiative dies an expected lonely death. All because what sounded good in theory was never thought through.

Drop this turkey of an idea.

Scott McVicker

Half Moon Bay

 

City should maintain its sidewalks

Dear Editor:

When the mayor and other city employees drive around Half Moon Bay, I am sure that they do not pay attention to the poor condition of the sidewalks. I did not pay much attention either; that is until I was forced to begin using a mobility scooter due to my health conditions.

Cracks and bumps on pedestrian street crossings. Uneven connections between pads of concrete. Tree roots that protrude through the sidewalk. Plants that intrude well into the space of the sidewalk. When I cross the Main Street bridge on my mobility scooter, I worry that I will have to return to the dentist’s office to fix damage to my teeth from vibration! Crossing the bridge in the automobile lane of traffic is not any better, as the pavement is in a terrible state of repair.

The trashed trail that goes to Safeway underneath Highway 1 is simply unsafe. Dogs approach and follow me when I pass through. After first witnessing these conditions, I informed the Sheriff and employees of the Half Moon Bay City Hall. There was no reaction from city officials or police. I feel that my complaint was ignored.

I am more concerned with the sidewalk beside the post office — the only way for me to access downtown from my home. The sidewalk is more than half-covered with dirt, trash, overgrown and dead bushes, and animal feces. One of the streetlights is laying on its side, exposing a bundle of wires very close to the sidewalk. When it rains, the dirt turns into a liquid and makes the entire sidewalk slippery.

I complained to the city numerous times only to be told that the sidewalk is the responsibility of the property owner and the city will not clean it.

Volodymyr Turovskyy

Half Moon Bay

 

Survey on supervisor’s race does disservice

 Dear Editor:

On Nov. 8, Coastsiders will help decide on a candidate to be our next San Mateo County supervisor. For residents of the unincorporated communities of Montara, Moss Beach, El Granada, Princeton, Miramar, Loma Mar, San Gregorio and Pescadero, this is our primary representative in local government.

Recently, I received a survey from a company called McGuire Research. I was curious, so I did a quick search to make sure that McGuire is legit and then clicked on the link to see what they were asking. It was a survey, potentially commissioned by one of the supervisorial candidates. About halfway through the questions, it was clear which candidate was the instigator. Part of the survey consisted of three questions, obviously designed to influence the respondent. All three of these questions presented highly negative statements about their opponent and then asked, “Please indicate if the information makes you less likely to vote for him.”

We have serious problems on the coast and we need an intelligent, compassionate and creative supervisor who will put the needs of the Coastside on equal footing with those of the more populated areas of District 3. The type of rhetoric included in the survey is designed to deflect attention away from one candidate, perhaps to cover up for their shortcomings, and to plant seeds of doubt as to the character of their opponent. This behavior is not becoming of the dignity and wisdom that this position requires.

I strongly urge all candidates to prove their worthiness to be our supervisor through more substantive and enlightened activities.

Marilyn Wacks

Montara

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