Measure J, a ballot measure that would impose an annual business license tax on cannabis stores operating within the city of Monterey, received early signs of approval after the first bout of local election results Tuesday.
Released just before midnight, up-to-date numbers from the Monterey County Elections Office show the vote, so far, is split 68.1% “yes” and 31.9% “no.” A simple majority, more than 50% of the vote, is needed to pass the measure.
Measure J asks whether the city of Monterey should “impose an annual cannabis (marijuana) business license tax of up to 8% gross receipts from retail businesses, 2% of gross receipts from testing laboratories, and 6% of gross receipts from other cannabis businesses?” Apart from business tax rates, the measure would also allow higher taxes on cannabis-infused beverages containing natural or artificial sweeteners and high-potency products.
If adopted, the city could gain as much as $1.3 million annually from the tax, it estimates, with all funds staying local.
The potential of a cannabis retail tax in Monterey has been in the works since December when the Monterey City Council gave staff the initial OK to put together draft language for the policy. At the same December meeting, the City Council directed staff to develop a regulatory ordinance that would ultimately allow for a total of three retail cannabis establishments throughout the city.
Results from Tuesday’s election will determine the next steps for commercial cannabis operations in Monterey going forward. If the cannabis business tax is approved, the city would begin issuing permits and determining market demand as soon as next year.
Measure Q – the local ballot measure proposed to establish child care services in Monterey County – failed to garner the majority approval required.
Early returns showed that 60% of the 54,685 votes counted voted no on the measure.
The Safe, Affordable, Quality Child Care in Monterey County Act – Measure Q – proposed adding an annual $49 special parcel tax on each parcel of real property in Monterey County for a period of 10 years. The revenue generated – an estimated $5.5 million annually – would have been used to increase and improve affordable childcare services in Monterey County.
The measure outlined the way the funds would be used, including: attracting and retaining qualified childcare providers and teachers; preparing children for school with literacy, math and social skills; doubling access to affordable childcare and early education for working families and single parents; and preventing long lasting effects of trauma on children from housing instability, neglect or parent unemployment.
Measure Q had a long list of endorsements, including the entire Monterey County Board of Supervisors, Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley), state Sens. Anna Caballero and John Laird, most of Monterey County’s mayors and many local school administrators and board of education representatives.
In a collaborative letter to the editor, mayors Alison Kerr, Del Rey Oaks; Anna Velazquez, Soledad; Bruce Delgado, Marina; Ian Oglesby, Seaside; Jose Rios, Gonzales; Mary Ann Carbone, Sand City; and Mike LeBarre, King City expressed support for Measure Q.
“As Monterey County mayors, we urge you to vote Yes on Q! and address the lack of affordable childcare and preschool in Monterey County,” the letter said. “Unfortunately, only one in four children in Monterey County is ready for kindergarten because too many families lack access to early childhood education. By expanding access, we can strengthen families and help ensure that every child in Monterey County has the early literacy and math skills they need to start school ready to succeed.”
Pacific Grove Mayor, Bill Peake, chose not to endorse the measure. Instead, he said that he hopes the county will set aside money in the budget for child care services in the future.
“I guess I didn’t fully understand why this needed a standalone tax measure when the board of supervisors had the capability of providing funding,” Peake explained.
Critics of Measure Q pointed out that the measure didn’t have a written plan or quantifiable outcomes.
“Why do our public servants think another property tax will solve the problem of the high cost of raising a family in Monterey County?” asked Prunedale resident, Rosemarie Barnard, in an October letter to the editor. “Affordable? At the taxpayer’s expense. Safe and quality? There’s no way to measure. Measure Q leaves taxpayers with a hefty bill and many more questions.”
The Measure Q Committee issued a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“Although Measure Q did not pass, child care will continue to be a critical issue for working families,” the statement said. “While we did not prevail in our efforts to pass Measure Q for safe, affordable and quality child care, we are nevertheless incredibly proud of the work done to support the kids of Monterey County. We believe our efforts have brought this critical issue to light and raised awareness of the needs of our community.”