L.A. Needs To Charge A Relocation Fee


The city needs money for a public transportation system, right? Why not make the people who move here help pay for it?

According to statistical projections from the California Department of Finance, L.A. County will see close to 700,000 new residents between 2010 and 2020. Each new resident could be charged a one-time relocation or ‘new resident’ fee, that would be earmarked for a regional mass transit system. Let’s say the fee was set at $100. Over a 20-year span, that would generate $70-million. If the fee was $250? $175-million. If you move here and stay, you pay one time. If you move away and back again, you pay again.

The relocation fee is similar to fees you might pay to set up a bank account, or to apply for an apartment. You’re making a financial investment in Los Angeles as your new home. Those who don’t want to pay it, don’t have to live here.

This won’t build a whole subway system on its own. But, it’s a start. The beauty of the idea, is that it could easily pass if voted on in an election. If you already live here, you don’t pay anything. You’re simply saying that anyone that moves to L.A. from now on, must pay to stay.

Especially, New Yorkers.

Photo from Shoreline’s photostream

26 thoughts on “L.A. Needs To Charge A Relocation Fee”

  1. Uhm, why don’t we just tax everyone who lives here. That captures both new and old residents AND would allocate the costs of building a subway system more evenly among those who would use it.

    Why punish people who want to come to the city? They should be welcomed, not shunned.

  2. The relocation fee is similar to fees you might pay to set up a bank account, or to apply for an apartment.

    Only 10 times larger. Sounds like a great way to kill our economy and ensure Ventura, Kern, Riverside and Orange counties a steady flow of new residents and businesses that are definitely paying more than $100 or $250 a lifetime in tax revenue.

    Can you point to where you found the number you’re citing? I’d be interested to know if that’s 700,000 new residents that are relocating to Los Angeles county from elsewhere, or 700,000 new residents period, including births.

  3. Interesting, but I’n not certain the period you are looking at or the source. In the SGV the So Cal Ass of Govt’s is prediciting 550,000 by 2030.

    All that aside growth needs to be controlled to match our resources.

    Taxing newcomers is unenforceable. Only a few will agree to it, those that don’t become a new class of illegal immigrants. Scary govt mess is what I see. Then again I am a minimal govt interference and a states rights kinda guy.

  4. Shouldn’t taxes for public transit encourage residential density in LA? With a new resident tax, all the commuters from San Bernardio, Riverside and Orange Country wouldn’t have to pay, but we’d end up with even more of them. Awesome.

    As for taxing New Yorkers, how about a Brooklyn Simile Tax? Kind of like getting a ticket for smoking, anytime someone in a bar compares some aspect of LA to Brooklyn, they get fined.

  5. I’m just throwing out ideas. You know, thinking out of the box. There seems to be a big fear of thinking big in this town. Lots of naysayers with no new ideas of their own.

    L.A. has some pretty significant housing and infrastructure issues, which can be attributed to its growth. We need some bold new ideas to lead this city into the future.

  6. The state tried that by taxing people that were registering out of state cars for the first time. It was found to violate the interstate commerce pact against leveing tarrifs and the money had to be returned.

  7. Probably would only add to the many reasons that businesses don’t want to locate in LA that already exist. Not a good idea. One of the problems with LA is that it’s already perceived as a tax-heavy environment, so it’s doubly difficult to raise taxes on anything here without repulsing revenue generating businesses.

  8. Jason, lest you forget I applaud your thinking outside the box, hell I doubt there is one anywhere that can hold you in. Certainly don’t want anyone in a box.

    You can just count on raising flags against government intervention. I just want an infrastructure that works and a govt that butts out and let’s us do the right thing on our own. (Sometimes I have to admit I am a lot like Ann Frank with the nazi’s downstairs…”deep down I believe men are good at heart”).

  9. I agree with what you’re saying, Fraz. What most people fail to realize is that infrastructure doesn’t just “work” on its own. It needs money. So does the school system, fire, police, etc.

    With L.A. and the rest of CA in a never-ending budget crisis, we need to find new ways to fund projects that keep Los Angeles a safe and productive city.

    Civilization needs government.

  10. I agree, but just enough government and funding to make it work after that butt and let us do great things. Sorry…another AF moment

  11. This is really a horrible idea, but I appreciate your attempt to think “outside the box” as you said. Yes, absolutely the government does need money to function and build infrastructure, etc. But you are making the assumption that our spending levels right now are below what they need to be. I would argue to the contrary. Instead of more taxes why not take a second look at the wasteful spending and unnecessary programs and departments within the state? Hell, the amount of money it would take to initiate the program you’re talking about would probably pay for a large chunk of a new subway system.

  12. Of course, $175 million dollars would only pay for about half a mile of subway. Hopefully all the new people will live REALLY close to one another.

    And unfortunately, the county has nothing in place right now to deal with registering the population to assess these taxes. Unless you’re actually buying real estate, there’s really no record of your residency on the county level other than voter registration, and in that case you’re edging very close to a poll tax. I suppose they COULD try to work with the DMV, the state tax board, or some other state or federal entity. But I somehow think it would be way more trouble than it’s worth.

  13. A few years ago, the State of California had to settle a class action suit and pay back thousands of residents the $300+ they paid for bringing in out of state vehicles. I’m having a hard time finding the exact language on this, but I know it came down to violating “article XIX of the California Constitution.”

    I believe the same would apply to charging new residents to move here.

    If it did pass, though, this would qualify American citizens who failed to pay as “illegal immigrants.”

  14. All interesting points… I wasn’t aware of the class action suit. Although, the state constitution can be amended, unless I’m mistaken.

    What about a relocation fee being assessed through the U.S. Postal Service? Anytime a change of address is transferred from non-L.A. to an L.A. County zip, that request is red-flagged and sent to officials in Los Angeles?

  15. this is a terrible idea! climb back into your box!

    and as you probably aren’t aware of, the state was sued years back for charging new residents higher fees for bringing their cars into CA. the state lost.

  16. It occurs to me that this already sorta happens, via the DMV and the generally higher fees for having a license and a car registered in California. Right?

  17. Why don’t they just RFID tag us and track us as we go inside and out of county lines? Go ahead and implant me if it means more taxes for city hall!

  18. Discarted what you and others are talking about was an effort in the early 90’s to charge higher fees on cars not equipped with the then stricter emissions requirements on our cars than the other 49 states.

    What they were doing was to prevent cars that ran dirtier from being bought on purpose by residents from out of state. Those cars were a few hundred bucks cheaper. It was an effort, a disinsentive to keep the freeways from getting clogged with cars that emitted more than our own regulations. Intent was good, but what happened is many people moving here with new cars had no idea that they would have to pay extra fees to register if the car couldn’t meet our more exacting standards.

    The suit was quickly moot as by the late 90’s our standards and fed finally came in synch.

  19. I like Jason’s idea. It might not be workable, but we need to start considering how this city is going to face the future. Some people (S., you know who you are) don’t give a fuck about this city; they’ll be gone in five years, off to wherever the macrobiotic craze pulls them.
    Me? I was born here. I LOVE this city.
    Los Angeles magazine, ’bout 6 years ago? maybe more? had an article about a proposal to reduce smog. Hollow silos would be built with water cascading down the inside. The water would cool the air and clean it. The water would be reused indefinitely. With a few hundred of these, the author said, we could significantly reduce smog.
    Crazy idea?
    Maybe. But This is L.A. we’re talking about. This could be the city of the future…if we don’t choke ourselves to death.

  20. horrible idea, so let’s see if I can match it. Instead of charging Americans to live in LA, why not develop a way to collect taxes from illegal immigrant workers without a deportation threat? Let’s make sure everyone is chipping in first before double-dipping on the rest of us.

  21. When doing my taxes with H&R Block a while back, I remember that the tax guy wanted to know if I had moved to California from out of state because I would get a fat tax return check. How about taking away whatever tax break that is and putting the savings in the transportation coffers?

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