Unintended Consequences: LA's Measure ULA Faces Backlash | A Report from TheRealDeal.Com

Advisory Tony Accardo November 28, 2023

In a recent revelation reported by Dana Bartholomew with TheRealDeal.com, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nithya Raman has disclosed that Measure ULA, a property transfer tax, was deliberately marketed as a tax on mansions to gain voter support, despite its broader impact on commercial properties. The measure, aimed at generating funds for affordable housing, homeless services, and mental health care, raised transfer taxes for properties over $5 million. However, the actual outcomes have raised concerns.
Luxury home sales, particularly those of Hollywood stars and executives, plummeted after the law took effect in April, significantly impacting the city's real estate market. The promised revenue of $672 million for the first year fell drastically short, with only $100 million generated in the first six months. Critics, including real estate agents and business groups, argue that the tax burden is ultimately passed on to renters and shoppers, negatively affecting the residential and commercial real estate sectors.
Despite the backlash and the market's adverse reactions, some activists argue that Measure ULA was a necessary step to address long-standing issues. Supporters contend that voters wanted a solution to problems that had been neglected for years, even if the implemented policy had unintended consequences.
However, opponents criticize the lack of foresight in the tax's implementation, with luxury home sellers potentially holding onto their properties in anticipation of legal challenges or adjusting prices to stay below the $5 million cutoff. The debate surrounding Measure ULA serves as a cautionary tale about the complexities of implementing policies through ballot measures and the need for comprehensive planning to mitigate unintended consequences. As Chicago contemplates a similar measure, the experiences of Los Angeles offer valuable insights into the potential impacts on both the real estate market and the intended beneficiaries of such initiatives.

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