Opinion

SB 54 battle goes to court on Sept. 27

OVER 100 SPEAKERS addressed the Huntington Beach City Council when it took up the matter of SB 54 earlier this year (Orange County Tribune photo by Chris Vo).

The City of Huntington Beach’s battle against state Senate Bill 54, which limits cooperation between local law enforcement agencies and federal immigration officers, will have its day in court on Sept. 27 in Orange County Superior Court.

Arguing that the law was a case of “constitutional overreach,” the city is suing the State of California. Other cities have pressed similar cases against the “California Values Act,” but Mayor Mike Posey and Councilman Erik Peterson argued that since Surf City is a charter city, rather than general law municipality, it has a stronger case to make.

Senate Bill 54 has been the focus of spirited protests, including some rowdy city council meetings in Huntington Beach and Westminster in which contesting factions exchanged insults and loud denunciations in crowded council chambers.

City councils in both those cities passed resolutions condemning SB 54, although Westminster did not take any legal action.

WILL THE TAX PASS? THE ODDS ARE …

Garden Grove has become the latest city to propose a sales tax to help balance the municipal books. The City Council voted 5-2 on Tuesday to place the matter before voters on Nov. 6.

Facing a multi-million-dollar “structural deficit,” the city hopes to raise $19 million annually from the 1-cent sales tax. But will voters buy it?

Impossible to predict, but the precedents are good. Westminster voters in 2016 approved a 1-cent sales tax, and the demographics of that community are similar to Garden Grove.

Additionally, voters in the Garden Grove Unified and Westminster elementary school districts have each twice in the last decade approved bond issues, which are – in essence – a property tax increase.

The Big Strawberry is not alone in seeking money to close a financial gap caused in part by rising pension costs. Santa Ana is seeking a sales tax boost, and Fountain Valley is reportedly considering it. Others may follow.

Nothing is certain, but city leaders are looking to November with optimism.

SPEAKING … OR NOT SPEAKING … OF SALES TAX

During Tuesday’s discussion of proposing a sales tax for Garden Grove, representatives of the Orange County Taxpayers Association and the Orange County Auto Dealers Association were on hand to comment.

What was most interesting was what they didn’t say. Two years ago, when Westminster was considering its sales tax issue, both organizations objected, even claiming that some businesses – especially car dealers – might leave town if approved.

But none of that happened on Tuesday. Both concentrated on urging the city to promote “buying local” as a way of mitigating any possible negative effects of the tax on buying habits. A rising tide lifts all boats, so to speak.

Usually Reliable Sources is supposed to appear every other week, but, hey, life happens.

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