Measure “C”- Hotel Tax (TOT) Increase

A proposed change to the City of Ojai’s hotel tax, also known as the transient occupancy tax (TOT) rate will appear on the March 3, 2019 ballot as “Measure C.” This measure will provide the City of Ojai’s registered voters an opportunity to approve or disapprove a hotel tax increase from 10% to 15%.

Ballot Question: Shall the measure to fund capital improvement and other projects by imposing an additional 5% special transient occupancy tax (hotel tax) on hotel guests, expressly confirming the existing “rent” definition as including resort fees, cancellation fees, parking fees, and similar fees, raising approximately $1,300,000 – $1,700,000 in additional annual revenue to fund City capital improvement and maintenance projects, including street paving; and fire mitigation, code enforcement, and climate change mitigation; until voters decide otherwise, be adopted?

  • Question: What is Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT)?
  • Answer: Transient Occupancy Tax is also known as the hotel tax, which is a tax only on guests staying overnight at hotels in Ojai for up to 30 nights. Effectively, this is a tax on tourists.

  • Question: What is the purpose of TOT and why is it important to a City?
  • Answer: Visitors cause impacts on communities and use City resources. TOT is a tax intended to help visitors reimburse the City for their impacts.

  • Question: I’m a resident of Ojai. Will I pay any additional tax?
  • Answer: Residents will not pay any additional tax, unless you stay at a hotel within Ojai’s city limits. The only people that will pay this tax are those that are staying in a hotel, motel, inn, or lodge within Ojai.

  • Question: What taxes are proposed to increase under Measure C?
  • Answer: This tax increase would not increase sales tax, property tax, or any other tax besides the hotel tax (transient occupancy tax).

  • Question: When will we vote on Measure C?
  • Answer: The tax increase will be considered at the March 3, 2020 primary election. It will require a 2/3 vote to pass.

  • Question: Who is eligible to vote on Measure “C”?
  • Answer: All registered voters within the City of Ojai will have the opportunity to vote on Measure “C.”

  • Question: What is the City’s current transient occupancy tax?
  • Answer: Ojai’s Transient Occupancy Tax was set in 1971 at 10%, and has not increased since that time. Many other cities have increased their TOT, or have special district assessments to collect additional funds. Ojai does not have a special district assessment on hotels.

  • Question: How much is the Transient Occupancy Tax proposed to increase?
  • Answer: “Measure C” is the City’s proposal to increase TOT from 10% to 15%, with the additional 5% being used for City capital improvement and maintenance projects including street paving; and fire mitigation, code enforcement, and climate change mitigation.
  • In other words, funds must be used to improve the City, in part mitigating the impact from tourists, the traffic, and the demand for City services they bring.

  • Question: What would the average TOT charge be?
  • Answer: As an example, if the average room rate is $100 per night, the current City of Ojai TOT is $10; if Measure “C” passes, the TOT increase would be $5, for a total of $15.

  • Question: Why are we proposing an increase to Transient Occupancy Tax rather than Sales Tax or Property Tax?
  • Answer: Sales and property taxes are typically paid by residents. To reduce the impact on residents, the City has proposed an increase to Transient Occupancy Tax, generally paid by tourists. A local source estimated that 850,000 visitors visit Ojai each year. With about 8,000 residents, this means there are approximately 100 visitors for each resident. This tax is in part intended to ensure that residents are not subsidizing the costs to mitigate the impact of the visitors, and funds will be used for capital improvement or maintenance projects.

  • Question: How much revenue will be brought in by Measure C?
  • Answer: A 5% increase is expected to raise an additional $1.3 to $1.7 million annually for these projects.

  • Question: How does the City’s proposed tax compare to other cities?
  • Answer: The proposed tax measure will bring Ojai in line with other Southern California City tax totals for hotel stays, which include TOT and Special District assessments, as seen in the chart below:

City

Total Tax

Thousand Oaks

12%

Oxnard

12%

Ventura

12%

Camarillo

12%

Carpinteria

12%

Santa Barbara

12%

Paso Robles

13%

Fresno

13.5%

Long Beach

15%

Palo Alto

15.5%

Los Angeles

15.5%

San Francisco

16.75%

Garden Grove

17%

Anaheim

17%