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Impartial Analysis of Measure C

JASON M. HEATH, COUNTY COUNSEL
Ruby Márquez, Chief Assistant County Counsel

Under the California Constitution and other related state laws, local governments may levy a general tax only if submitted and approved by a majority of voters within their boundaries. Measure C was placed on the ballot by the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors.

In November 2019, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors (“Board”) approved an ordinance requiring that sellers or providers of single-use disposable beverage cups charge the purchaser or receiver $0.25 (25 cents), with all collected charges to remain with the seller or provider. Voters may review Santa Cruz County Code Chapter 5.47 to learn more details about the charge. The Board has delayed implementation of the charge because of safety concerns and impacts to businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Collection of the charge is now scheduled to begin on July 1, 2022.

If approved by the majority of voters, Measure C would change the existing ordinance by allowing the County to collect $0.125 (12.5 cents) from each charge on single-use disposable cups as a general tax. The seller or provider would keep the remaining $0.125 (12.5 cents). This tax would be collected only in unincorporated areas of the County beginning on January 1, 2023.

The revenue raised from this measure could be used for any general governmental purposes. This includes, but is not limited to, reducing pollution, trash and plastics from entering local water and beaches; protecting water quality, public health, and marine life; addressing illegal dumping; helping prevent wildfires; cleaning parks and public areas; and other environmental and general uses. It is estimated that approximately $700,000 would be added annually to the County’s General Fund if Measure C passes.

If approved, the tax would continue until ended by a majority of voters in the County.

A “yes” vote on Measure C is a vote to allow Santa Cruz County to collect $0.125 cents from the existing $0.25 cents charge on single-use disposable cups as a general tax beginning on January 1, 2023.

A “no” vote on Measure C is a vote against the tax and a vote for the entire $0.25 cents collected from the single-use disposable cup charge to remain with the seller or provider of the disposable cup.