California voters are approving parcel tax measures at a higher rate than in odd-numbered years over the last decade

Welcome to the Friday, May 12, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. California voters are approving parcel tax measures at a higher rate than in odd-numbered years over the last decade
  2. A look back at Ballotpedia’s first Community Volunteer Day! 
  3. #FridayTrivia: How many state executive officials have left office early since 2012? 

California voters are approving parcel tax measures at a higher rate than in odd-numbered years over the last decade

So far in 2023, California voters have approved 89% of the nine parcel tax measures that have been on the ballot. In odd-numbered years between 2011 and 2021, that figure was 62%

A parcel tax is a form of property tax based on the characteristics of a unit of property—a parcel—rather than the assessed value. A parcel tax can be levied on square footage or by dwelling unit, or the tax may be a flat rate per parcel.  

In the United States, parcel taxes are unique to California. Local governments turned to parcel taxes to raise revenue after voters approved Proposition 13, a constitutional amendment that limited property taxes, in 1978. Local governments, including cities, counties, and school districts, can impose parcel taxes, and revenues can be used for various types of spending, including construction costs, employee salaries, and school funding. Parcel tax measures require a two-thirds vote for approval.

From 2011 to 2021, voters decided 216 parcel tax-related ballot measures in California during odd-numbered year elections, approving 133 (61.57%) and rejecting 83 (38.43%). Through April of this year, voters have approved eight (88.89%) and rejected one (11.11%).

On average, 36 parcel tax-related measures appeared on ballots in California during an odd-numbered year. In all years since 2011, an average of 55.5 parcel tax measures appeared on ballots. 

Here’s a look at some of the parcel tax measures voters have decided this year:

  • Of the parcel taxes voters have approved, South Pasadena Unified School District had the highest parcel tax measure. The measure asked voters to renew a current parcel tax at a rate of $4,764 per parcel for seven years to provide education funding.
  • The one parcel tax measure that was defeated by voters would have established a tax based on the square foot of buildings ($0.32 per square foot of homes, $1.42 per square foot for lodging, and other rates) to provide funds to acquire, operate, and maintain the Napa County Fairgrounds.
  • The measure with the highest vote of approval was in the Salmon Creek Fire Protection District in Humboldt County, which was approved with 111 (96%) voters in favor and five (4%) opposed. The measure enacted a $75 per year special tax for each parcel to fund the Salmon Creek Volunteer Fire Company.

Click the link below to see our coverage of all local measures throughout California.
Keep reading


A look back at Ballotpedia’s first Community Volunteer Day! 

In yesterday’s Brew, we told you a little about Ballotpedia’s first Community Volunteer Day. Ballotpedians helped at local organizations around the country, including animal shelters, soup kitchens, local nature preserves, and many others. 

We were all excited to volunteer and give back to readers in our local communities. Below are photos of our staff enjoying the day and a little about how some volunteers contributed:

“I enjoy hiking and think it’s important to keep trails in good shape for everyone to use and encourage people to get outside” Volunteering with Portland Trails

“I do a lot of advocacy volunteer work for women and children in crisis in our community and this seemed like the perfect opportunity!” Volunteering with a local women’s and children’s shelter

“I have several veterans in my family, including my dad who is a disabled, Purple Heart Medal recipient. Our military community means a lot to me.” Volunteering with Veterans Affairs

“It’s giving me the opportunity to get out of my house and get involved in the community. I do things online to help people all the time, but it’s different when you can see them face to face.” Volunteering with Eastside Soup Kitchen

“I adopted my dog Daisy from Humane Tomorrow. Humane Tomorrow is a no kill dog shelter that tries to provide foster homes for every dog they bring in. They also provide resources to help owners adopt and train their dogs to adapt to new homes.” Volunteering with Humane Tomorrow

We’re excited to see the results of our efforts, and we hope to continue to support more essential organizations in the future! 


#FridayTrivia: How many state executive officials have left office early since 2012? 

In the May 9 edition of this newsletter, following Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s (D) resignation the day before, we looked at the number of state executive officials who’ve left office early in 2023. Fagan’s resignation brings the total this year to 20 irregular office changes—our term for when an official resigns or dies.

In that edition, we also looked at the total number of irregular office changes we’ve tracked since 2012. 

How many state executive officials have left office early since 2012?

  1. 243
  2. 111
  3. 356
  4. 87



About the author

Samuel Wonacott

Samuel Wonacott is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.