LA City Council votes to explore ways to implement new Measure ULA tax

The Los Angeles City Council voted on Tuesday, Feb. 21 to explore how to implement Measure ULA, a ballot measure that passed in November and seeks an additional tax on property sales that exceed $5 million in Los Angeles.

The measure is currently facing litigation, but if it survives the tax is expected to generate between $600 million and $1.1 billion annually. A majority of the revenue would go toward affordable housing and tenant assistance programs, backers said.

The council voted to approve recommendations by two committees that include instructing the City Attorney’s Office and Los Angeles Housing Department to report within 15 days on a plan to form the House LA Fund and House LA Program using up to $500,000 — which would be paid back from future Measure ULA funding.

It also called for a report within 15 days on identifying other funding to support programs related to rent relief prior to revenue from Measure ULA being available.

The council also sought a report from the housing department on implementing the measure, including guidelines and resources needed, hiring and consulting strategies and a plan to collect revenue beginning in April.

Several council members are hoping to use Measure ULA funding to expand renter protections, including developing a program that would establish a right to counsel for tenants. Measure ULA would allocate 10% of revenue generated from the tax to fund a counsel program for lower-income tenants threatened with eviction.

According to the text of the ballot measure, a vast majority of the estimated 30,000 tenants who receive eviction notices each year in Los Angeles “do not have access to an attorney and do not know how to exercise their rights.”

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“Finally, we are getting the money that we need to make the right to counsel program work,” Councilman Bob Blumenfield said at a rally last week. “When you’re potentially being evicted, the deck is stacked against you. And we need to change that.”

In December, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles filed a lawsuit alleging that Measure ULA violates the state Constitution and City Charter and should be invalidated.

The measure passed with 57% support during the Nov. 8 election.

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