Appeals Court Upholds Oakland’s Measure AA

A 2018 measure that will yield over $30 million for early childhood education and college readiness in Oakland can go forward with a simple majority vote, an appeals court has ruled.

Measure AA establishes a parcel tax of $198 per parcel for 30 years to fund education services and career readiness programs for pre-K through college. It passed with 62% of the vote.

Ballot materials stated the measure needed a ⅔ majority to pass and a lower court initially invalidated the measure. The appellate court, however, said that the ⅔ threshold applies to measures placed on the ballot by the government. Because AA was a citizens’ initiative, the court deemed a majority vote sufficient.

This is the latest court case to affirm the simple majority threshold for citizens’ initiatives. In 2020, the Court of Appeal in San Francisco ruled in favor of San Francisco's Measure C, a business tax that funds homeless services in the city. The special tax, passed with 61% of the vote, was placed on the ballot by voter petition. After the ruling upholding Measure C, law firm Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP wrote that cities and counties would be likely to see more voter-driven special tax initiatives as a result.