Ballot measure to overturn ULA struck down by California Supreme Court

Unanimous judges rule Taxpayer Protection Act cannot go before voters in November

Ballot Measure to Overturn ULA Struck Down by Court
Mayor Karen Bass and Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero (Getty, Judicial Council of California)

One of the industry’s key hopes to overturn Measure ULA is dead. 

The California Supreme Court blocked the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act from heading to the November ballot, according to a ruling on Thursday. The measure would have overturned the City of Los Angeles’ tiered transfer taxes on residential and commercial sales over $5 million.

The proposed measure sought to change the percentage of a voter majority that proposed special taxes need to become law, by requiring their approval by two-thirds of voters, rather than a simple majority. 

The new measure would have gone into effect retroactively, requiring such initiatives passed since Jan. 1, 2022, to return to voters and get the two-thirds majority approval in 2025. That would have effectively killed Measure ULA, plus 40 other initiatives across the state. 

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Gov. Gavin Newsom had sued over the measure last year, arguing it would “affect nearly every revenue source.” 

The California Supreme Court agreed: “Those changes would substantially alter our basic plan of government, the proposal cannot be enacted by initiative,” Justice Goodwin Liu wrote in his opinion. All six of the other state Supreme Court judges concurred with the opinion.

“We are disappointed that the California Supreme Court has put politics ahead of the Constitution, disregarding long-standing precedent that they should not intervene in an election before voters decide qualified initiatives,” business interest groups pushing for the ballot measure said in a statement.

Real estate companies, including Douglas Emmett, Kilroy Realty, Shorenstein Properties and Hudson Pacific Properties had collectively poured millions into the effort to pass the measure, according to donation records from the secretary of state. 

Measure ULA opponents still have one thread of hope: later this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear arguments over its legality.

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