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Petition Drive Seeks to Place Refinery Tax on Ballot

A new ballot measure, which salvages the least controversial component of Measure T of 2007, is currently the subject of a low profile but apparently fruitful petition drive by volunteers.


Measure T of 2007, which would have amended Richmond’s Business License Ordinance, was defeated 58% no to 42% yes in November 2008. Measure T proposed three changes to Richmond’s Business License Ordinance: 1) a tax on throughput of industrial raw material, 2) a more rational way of taxing landlords of rental housing, and 3) a minor increase in the tax on typical businesses. Chevron was successful, for example, in convincing renters that Measure T would increase their rents.


An expensive campaign against Measure T waged primarily with money from Chevron and fronted by the Chamber of Commerce and Council of Industries played on voters’ confusion about the details of the three-part measure and general suspicion of taxes. For some history, see City Council Cuts Ties With Chamber of Commerce and Council of Industries, November 15, 2006.


The Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) (www.RichmondProgressiveAlliance.net) has launched a grassroots citizens' ballot initiative for the November 2008 ballot that has dropped the potentially controversial portions of Measure T and retained the least controversial and most important part. The following is from a press release by the RPA:

This initiative will partially modify Richmondıs Business License process and require large manufacturers (such as Chevron) to pay more for their licenses to operate in the City of Richmond.

If the initiative is passed by voters next year, large manufacturers (such as Chevron) will be required to pay the equivalent of one-fourth of one percent (0.25%) of the value of the materials used in manufacturing during the previous year to get a business license.  

³We all know that large companies like Chevron have made record profits in recent years. Much of Chevronıs profit is from the Richmond refinery. We think that some of that money should come back to Richmond to help solve the many problems we face,² said Jeff Ritterman, M.D., a Richmond resident and leading member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance.

Which businesses will NOT be affected by the initiative? The initiative will not change the way, nor the amount, that non-manufacturing businesses, retail stores, and small businesses pay for their business licenses. The fees for operating these types of businesses will remain at their current levels.   No changes are proposed for landlords. In addition, and to encourage new businesses to come to Richmond, there will be no fees charged for the business license during the first year of operations.

If passed by the voters, the initiative will generate over $16 million in new funds each year for services like street repairs, crime and violence prevention, youth employment and training, libraries, parks and recreation, and public safety.

³It is about time and it is more than fair that large manufacturers like Chevron contribute more to the city in which it operates so profitably. It is also important that the residents of Richmond define the terms and conditions for large manufacturers to operate in our city. It is our city, our community. We should receive less pollution and more financial support from such large manufacturers,² said Marilyn Langlois, of the RPA .

³As a small business owner and an Economic Development Commissioner, I am glad to see this measure move forward. It will not burden small businesses and it will help the City to improve infrastructure, prevent crime and promote a better reputation for Richmond,² said Jovanka Beckles, a volunteer who is gathering signatures for the initiative.

The full text of the initiative, the letter of intent to circulate a petition, and the Richmond City Attorneyıs summary of main points and title are available at www.RichmondProgressiveAlliance.net.  

Volunteers are needed to circulate petitions.
Contact information      510-595-4661    info@richmondprogressivealliance.net