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A ‘Vacancy Tax’ Could Appear On The November Ballot. So What Is It?




 A for lease sign is posted in front of an apartment building on February 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
A for lease sign is posted in front of an apartment building on February 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Los Angeles is in a housing crisis. Yet up to 100,000 units, many of them luxury apartments, sit empty.

City lawmakers think a vacancy tax could help. At today's council meeting, they voted 13-0 to ask City Attorney Mike Feuer to draft a ballot measure. But before landing on ballots in November, the proposal would have to survive another council vote by July 1, and then garner two-thirds support at the polls.

The tax is modeled after a similar measure passed by Oakland voters in 2018, which penalizes property owners whose units are in use for fewer than 50 days. Oakland's Measure W garnered 70% of the vote; it exempts low-income and non-profit owners.

L.A.'s tax could garner as much as $150 million annually for affordable housing, renter protections or affordable housing, according to the city's housing department.

Read more on LAist. 

With files from LAist.

Guests:

Fred Sutton, senior vice president of public affairs for the California Apartment Association

David Levitus, founder and executive director of LA Forward, a non-profit advocacy and community organizing group that aims to make local government accessible and accountable; he tweets @levitusing