Frequently Asked Questions

What is Measure D?


Measure D is a parcel tax on the June 2018 ballot seeking voter authorization for funds to allow Oakland Public Libraries to expand service hours, prevent library closures, maintain children reading programs, and increase access for Oakland seniors and families.

How much money will Measure D raise?


Measure D will raise approximately $10 million per year.

Why has the City of Oakland placed Measure D on the ballot?


Years of underfunding and rising costs threatened the Oakland Public Libraries, and have forced neighborhood branch libraries to close two days a week and keep limited library hours. Without this measure, libraries will face further closures.

What is the actual question that voters will be asked to decide in June?


“To maintain and improve library services throughout Oakland, including: Providing safe places for children and teens after school; Providing literacy services for families and adults; Increasing library resources for local schools; Preventing library closures; Maintaining up-to-date books and computers to increase technology access; Keeping libraries safe and clean; shall the City of Oakland establish a $75 per parcel tax for 20 years, providing about $10,000,000 annually, subject to independent annual audits and citizens’ oversight?”

How will Measure D funds be used?


Funds will be used to:

  • PREVENT library closures and extend hours on evenings and weekends to better accommodate students and working families.
  • PROVIDE safe places for children and teens after school.
  • MAINTAIN youth reading programs and services for seniors.
  • KEEP libraries safe and welcoming.
  • PROVIDE literacy services for families and adults.

By law, all Measure D funds MUST stay local and be used only for Oakland libraries.

Who is eligible to vote on Measure D?


All of the 235,000 registered voters within the City of Oakland will be eligible to vote on Measure D. The last day to register and be eligible to vote on Measure D in the June Election is May 21.

What’s required for Measure D to pass (win)?


At least two-thirds (66.7%) of the voters who cast their ballots in the June 5th Election must vote in favor of Measure D for it to be approved.

What happens if Measure D does not pass?


If Measure D is not approved by voters, Oakland Public Libraries will be forced to close branches as early as July 1, 2018.

How long will Measure D last?


Measure D will sunset after 20 years.

Will businesses share in the cost of Measure D?


Yes, both commercial and residential property owners will be subject to the assessment.

How can we be assured that Measure D money will be spent properly?


Taxpayer protections are REQUIRED. All Measure D funds stay local — they cannot be taken away by the State or used for other purposes. ONLY funding for Oakland libraries are allowed. Measure D requires the establishment of an independent Citizens Oversight Committee within 60 days after a successful election result is certified. The City Auditor must perform an annual audit. An existing Board or Commission will review spending and report to Council when needed.

How will the tax be assessed?


The cost for owners of single-family homes is $75 per parcel. Other property owners will pay based on a set of formulas that the City of Oakland will use to evaluate.

  • Single Family Residences - $75 per parcel
  • Multiple Residential Units - $51.24 x number of units (if unoccupied, can be reduced)
  • Non-Residential Parcels – frontage x sq. footage- there is a formula
  • Undeveloped Parcels – exempt
  • Hotels – formulas included to determine tax

Are there tax exemptions for low-income households?


Yes, there are exemptions for very low-income households (50% of area median income) and for low-income senior households (80% of area median income). The definitions of low-income and very low-income are based on a formula from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  In 2017, single Oakland residents earning less than $36,550 were considered very low-income, and single Oakland residents earning less than $56,300 were considered low-income. Larger household sizes have increased income limits.

Can Council reduce General Fund support for the library if the tax passes?


Not really. OPL has two other funding sources: Measure Q, a separate parcel tax, and the General Fund. The City Council must appropriate at least $12,992,267 for the tax to be collected (the same as what was allotted in the 2017-18 fiscal year). If a fiscal emergency occurs in the City, the General Fund contribution can be reduced if the City Administrator submits a report to Council detailing the crisis and the steps taken to avoid the crisis. Even then, OPL’s budget can only be reduced by the same amount that other City non-emergency services are reduced. This fiscal emergency finding must be submitted on a yearly basis.

Have there been other library parcel taxes?


In 2004 voters passed Measure Q, a 20-year parcel tax set to expire in 2024.

Why do we need another parcel tax if Measure Q is still being collected?


Measure Q also has a threshold that requires a certain minimum appropriation from the General Fund in order to be collected. That amount is approximately $9.1 million. When the recession hit, the City reduced its appropriations to OPL from the General Fund to just above the threshold level. At the same time, expenses were increasing. The library cut services, such as reducing hours from 6 days a week to 5 at branches and eliminating the Bookmobile, and relied on a reserve fund that had accumulated in Measure Q. That reserve fund is now gone.

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