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Guest Opinion | Paul Little: We Can Forestall Residential Rent Increases and Save our Cherished Local Businesses

Published on Tuesday, October 13, 2020 | 9:02 am
Paul Little, President and CEO of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Lyd and Mo Photography

There are two ways households and businesses can increase the bottom line: enhance income or decrease costs. Voters in the greater Pasadena area have a chance to do the second for our businesses as well as our residential renters and homeowners.  

Voting NO on PUSD Measure O – the cagily-named bond measure that feeds more than $500 million into the school districts’ bottomless facilities funding addiction – will reduce costs for every business, every renter and every homeowner in the PUSD service area.  

How can that be? Simple, most leases – residential and commercial – allow landlords to pass fixed costs such as tax increases on to tenants. So, when a local commercial institution that owns its own building sees a tax increase, their costs go up. When a residential landlord’s tax bill increases, that increase gets passed along to tenants.  

The myth that cost increases can be absorbed by landlords is simply false! They suffer economic challenges just like everyone.  

Many local families are a missed paycheck, an unanticipated car repair or an unexpected medical bill away from homelessness. A rent increase could be the difference between having a roof over their heads and sleeping in the car (or worse). Many families cannot afford even the modest increase in rent that passage of Measure O will impose on them. (The very people that rely on Pasadena Unified to educate their children.)

We are not seeing bread lines, but we are witnessing a massive increase in the demand at food banks.  

In the midst of the worst economic downturn in 75 years it is frankly wrong to increase the tax burden for anyone.  

Our cherished local businesses cannot increase prices. This is a perilous time for locally owned enterprises that make up the character and fabric of our community and employ so many of our friends and neighbors. The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated our households and our local commercial community. Unemployment is the highest it has been since World War II. Consumer spending in brick-and-mortar retailers and restaurants is the lowest it has been since the Great Depression.  

We have all seen the call for help from local businesses. I agree! I have been buying gift cards, ordering take-out, picking up curbside and doing what I can to support our locally owned businesses. They are the heart and soul of our communities.  

I hope you all have been doing the same.

There is a more meaningful, long-term and much simpler action you can take to support our local businesses. You can do it by marking your ballot: VOTE NO ON MEASURE O! 

Pasadena Unified’s Measure O will contribute to the closure of businesses and exacerbate the affordable housing crisis locally while doing little or nothing to improve the education of students in PUSD classrooms. Tell PUSD to provide resources and support to teachers to actually improve what goes on in their classrooms by voting NO on Measure O.

Further, passage of Proposition 15 will quadruple the tax burden of every local business and landlord AND multiply the Measure O tax burden for most, as well. Measure O seriously wounds our local businesses and landlords. Prop 15 puts a bullet through their hearts. 

You can help save those local businesses that by voting NO to tax increases. Vote NO on Measure O and NO on Prop 15. 

Paul Little is a former Pasadena City Council Member and President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce and Civic Association of Pasadena.

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