Tuesday Must Read: Oakland Council Puts Parcel Tax on Ballot; Brown’s Budget Plan Stalls in Sacramento



Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland City Council voted 5-2 last night to put an $11 million per year parcel tax on the June ballot — assuming that the state legislature also agrees to hold a June special election, the Chron and Trib report. However, Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente single-handedly blocked a proposal from Mayor Jean Quan to also consider phone and property transfer tax measures. City law required that the council unanimously declare a fiscal emergency in order to put those measures before voters, but De La Fuente voted against the declaration — even though the city is grappling with a $46 million deficit. De La Fuente and Councilwoman Libby Schaaf also voted against asking voters to approve the parcel tax. If Ok’d, the parcel tax will sunset in five years.

2. However, the chances that there will be a June election dimmed Monday when five centrist Republican lawmakers who had been negotiating with Governor Jerry Brown announced that their talks had stalled, the LA Times and Chron report. Brown needs at least four Republican votes — two in each house of the legislature — to approve his budget proposal and hold a June election that would include statewide tax measures. But the Republicans, who want to save redevelopment agencies and tax enterprise zones and want public-employee pension reforms, complained that Brown was unwilling to compromise.

3. Speaking of redevelopment, state Controller John Chiang sharply criticized redevelopment agencies in a new report released yesterday, the Mercury News reports. Chiang’s audit criticized the expanding definition of “blight” in California, noting that the City of Palm Desert spent $17 million in redevelopment funds on a luxury golf resort. Chiang also criticized San Jose’s use of redevelopment funds to pay parts of the mayor and city council’s salary — a practice that Oakland also employs. Redevelopment backers, however, say Chiang’s audit was primarily designed to get state lawmakers to vote for Brown’s plan to kill redevelopment statewide.

4. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory received 21 proposals from eight cities for its new second campus, the Berkeley Voice reports. In addition to the six cities the Express previously identified — Alameda, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, Richmond, and Walnut Creek — the lab also received proposals from developers in Albany and Dublin.

5. Census figures for California are scheduled to be released today, the Mercury News reports.

6. Real estate agents say banks are still making short sales difficult to complete, the Merc reports.

7. And the Libyan uprising has pushed the price of oil to more than $105 a barrel, causing gas prices to surge as well, AP reports.