Voters reject Capitola’s Measure M hotel room tax increase

Late mail campaign angers longtime residents

By Jondi Gumz, Santa Cruz Sentinel

Scott Ruland Photography
Photo- Scott Ruland Photography

CAPITOLA >> Measure M, a city initiative to raise the tax on hotel rooms and vacation rentals from 10 percent to 11 percent, received just 45 percent of the voter Tuesday after an aggressive $13,000 campaign by opponents.

Some voters skipped over the measure, which needed a majority vote to pass. A number of absentee ballots countywide have yet to be counted.

Shadowbrook Restaurant co-owner Ted Burke led the opposition with backing from hoteliers.

Motorists on Bay Avenue saw a large sign urging yes on Measure M. In their mailboxes, residents got a negative message.

The mailer featured photos of the three council members who voted to put Measure M on the ballot — Michael Termini, who is seeking re-election, Dennis Norton and Ed Bottorff — labeled “the greedy three.”

On the other side was a DeCinzo cartoon from the Oct. 13 Sentinel depicting the trio shaking down tourists, along with references to a new City Hall as “hidden plans with no public process” and “secret hotel deals” referring to a proposed exclusive agreement with developers Craig French and Owen Lawlor, rejected unanimously by the council last month.

Amie and Karl Forest, longtime residents in the city of 10,000, were moved to email friends and neighbors.

“It is OK to attack ideas, but it is not OK to attack people,” they wrote. “No matter what your opinion on this measure, in support of or against, we ask you to join us in rejecting this kind of ugly, destructive tactic in our local political process. We suggest we join as a community and hold whoever it is responsible for this campaign accountable for bringing this level of nasty personal attack into any local campaign.”

They cited the trio’s positive attributes, Termini’s generosity, Norton’s ideas like the community-produced tile art along the Esplanade sea wall and Bottorff’s thoughtfulness and willingness to get involved.

The Forests added, “Full disclosure: We are for the measure, but it’s really not even about the measure anymore, it’s about civility and respect in local politics.”

Measure M

Yes: 872

No: 1,056

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