Five years ago, Pismo Beach residents voted to collect a half-penny sales tax on taxable goods sold within city limits. At that time, some believed it would drive away tourists. Others worried it would be a burden to people on fixed incomes. But supporters of the tax promised, “Don’t worry since tourists pay 70 percent of it.”
Both critics and supporters were wrong. We paid less and got more. Tourism has been at record levels. Out-of-town visitors have paid closer to 80 percent. Whatever the percent, the city received $5 million in more than five years. Measure C gave Pismo Beach residents a much better deal than expected.
That half-cent tax let us focus our city’s regular budget for downtown and neighborhood safety, recreation, holiday events and routine site and building maintenance. The measure says all half-cent sales tax money will go toward infrastructure: hard visible assets such as streets, storm drains, curbs, sidewalks — the things that keep a city safe and running smoothly.
All over the city, residents can see what their vote for Measure C bought:
Streets were paved in Pacific Estates, Pismo Oaks and North Shell Beach.
Pismo Pier underwent a quarter-million-dollar rehab.
The bluffs walkway fence was partially replaced.
Drainage was improved in Pacific Estates.
Sidewalks were repaired throughout the downtown.
The Pismo Heights sidewalk study was completed.
Sidewalks and street paving on Longview.
Street paving on Merced, Dell Court, Price Canyon Road, Terrace.
Storm drains on Encanto will be improved.
Resurfacing the basketball courts in Shell Beach.
Drivers can’t help but notice obvious street improvements throughout the city. It’s clear that more needs to be done. It’s lovely here in Pismo Beach, but a quartermillion annual tourists and the combination of sand, salt air and wind make keeping a beach town safe and attractive a neverending process.
It is smart fiscal policy to ease the local burden by spreading most of the cost onto visitors, responsible for much of the wear and tear.
After five successful years, it’s time to renew that tax to continue improving our city. When voters originally passed Measure C, they wisely included a “sunset clause” so voters can decide whether collecting the experimental halfpenny has been good for us or not.
A sunset clause remains, but it has been lengthened to assure major projects can be funded.
It is clear that the tax has worked to all our benefit. The Pismo Beach City Council, city manager and staff do an exemplary job of using that money to keep our city a desirable place to live, work, and play.
Vote Yes on Measure I-14 on Nov. 4.