Pismo Beach eyes ballot measure to extend sales tax

A Measure "C" street sign on Hermosa Drive in Shell Beach.
A Measure "C" street sign on Hermosa Drive in Shell Beach. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

With $21 million worth of projects identified over the next decade, Pismo Beach officials are recommending the City Council place a 12-year extension of its existing half-percent sales tax increase on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Officials said the half-cent per dollar sales tax increase has raised more than $6 million since 2008, when voters approved Measure C.

If the sales tax measure is continued, it could raise another $13 million to $15 million over the next decade, officials said, funding a large share of long-term infrastructure projects such as undergrounding utilities, improving parks and constructing new storm drains.

Street paving projects alone are anticipated to cost $6 million over the next five years.

“It allows us to be proactive in maintenance,” Pismo Beach City Manager Jim Lewis said. “We have some of the better streets in the county because of the half-cent sales tax. People know it’s had a direct impact on their quality of life and property values.”

Measure C raised the city sales tax rate to 7.75 percent from 7.25 percent for 6 ½ years, and is currently set expire March 31, 2015. (The sales tax rate was raised to 8 percent after Proposition 30, a statewide tax measure passed in 2012.)

Before Measure C went to voters in 2008, officials said budget cuts from prior years left less money to spend on street and sidewalk maintenance, pothole repair and replacement of 20- to 30-year-old storm drains.

To date, more than $3.8 million has been spent on such projects, including seven miles of street paving, sidewalk repairs at 62 locations, storm drain maintenance and repairs, and maintenance of the Pismo Beach pier.

Additional projects totaling about $4 million should be underway by 2015.

Lewis said about 70 percent of the Measure C revenue comes from tourists, based on information from a consultant who monitors sales tax receipts. Downtown Pismo Beach, including Price Street, generates the highest amount of sales tax, followed by the Pismo Beach Premium Outlets. However, much of the money generated by the tax increase is spent in residential areas, Lewis said.

“We have spent a little money on the pier and downtown sidewalks, but the vast majority — far more than the 30 percent paid by residents — is spent in neighborhoods,” he said.

If you go: The Pismo Beach City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at 760 Mattie Road. More information can be found at pismobeach.org.