Letter to the Editor | ‘Vote Yes on Measure U’

Two years ago 80% of South Pas voters overwhelmingly voted to continue City funding. This November we need to do the same by voting YES on Measure U

The UUT is on the ballot for renewal this fall.

Measure U will not increase in the current rate

and voters can repeal this tax at any time.

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What makes South Pasadena exceptional? In the midst of the urban sprawl of one of the largest cities in the world, South Pas is a quiet, family friendly town that feels far removed from the glitz of Hollywood or the towering skyscrapers of downtown L.A. (but is close enough that you can easily visit or work in either!). Many of us chose to move here to live in a safe, close-knit community where we can raise our children and then enjoy our empty nest. The green canopy of trees that covers much of the city creates an oasis in the Southern California desert.

South Pas residents have a remarkable devotion to our community, and volunteerism is the lifeblood of those connections. Participation in civic groups and youth athletics draws us together. This is only possible with the foundation of a local government able to provide community services and public safety that allow for all of us, young and old, to thrive.

To preserve the small-town charm of our neighborhoods, we must sustain South Pasadena as a full-service city. Roads are maintained, water flows to our homes, and we can sleep soundly at night knowing that our first responders will be on hand in under four minutes if there is an emergency. Crossing guards keep our children safe on the way to school, our public library is exemplary, and our parks are clean, green and healthy. The South Pas Senior Center provides over 15,000 meals each year and has increased meal deliveries during the pandemic crisis to 350 per week. Our after-school programs are second to none, we have a world-class Farmer’s market, and in normal years, concerts in the park, movie nights, and our 4th of July celebration is without equal in the region.

For nearly 40 years, South Pasadena voters have renewed the Utility Users Tax (UUT) to provide funding for all these community services. The UUT is based on consumption of public utilities. The less you use, the less you pay. There is also an exemption for low-income families.

The UUT provides approximately 12% of the City’s annual revenue, nearly $3.4 Million, and is second only to property taxes. Without this revenue, we could not have our own independent public safety agencies, extensive community services and independence from the issues that trouble much of Los Angeles County.

With the UUT set to expire, South Pasadena faces a choice: to continue its great level of services or to do away with them. The loss of nearly one-eighth of its total budget will not allow for the city to continue to provide these great services we all enjoy.

Much is being made of the word “permanent” in relation to this renewal. The implication is that the UUT will be forever. It will not be. All that will happen is we won’t have to keep renewing it. Measure U specifically allows voters to remove the UUT at any time.

Here is the exact language of the ballot measure:

To maintain City services, such as Public Safety, Paramedic and Library services, shall an Ordinance be adopted to: Extend the City’s Utility User Tax at its current rate of 7.5% for all utilities, to be effective on January 1, 2021 and remain in effect until otherwise terminated by majority vote of the electorate in South Pasadena?

Providing for no automatic expiration does away with the cost of future elections to periodically renew the tax. Measure U saves South Pasadena time, money and provides a stable revenue source for our future.

Our city faces a number of challenges in the coming years. Following the COVID-19 crisis, our city leaders, no matter who they are, will need to make tough decisions. UUT funding will play a critical role in our community’s ability to recover from this crisis. While some in our community are rightfully concerned with our current financial state, the future of our fiscal stability significantly relies on voting to retain the UUT. This will provide our future leaders a tool necessary both to recover from our current crisis AND to sustain the South Pasadena we all know and love. Vote YES on Measure U.

Ed Donnelly, Committee Chair – South Pasadena Yes on Measure U 2020






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