2010-02-09 Sonoma sales tax

There are currently several "big box" developments planned for Petaluma. The Petaluma City Council is currently struggling with the East Washington Place development, which Regency, the developer, claims will have a Target as its anchor store (although per the testimony of their representative at last night's City Council meeting, no legal agreement is in place to ensure that yet). Various arguments fly around pro and con.

When Charlene and I were making our decision to move to Petaluma the lack of a Target, and lack of big box stores in general, was a part of what made Petaluma attractive. We could have been closer to San Francisco for the same (or possibly even less) money in Novato, but Novato's downtown feels a little too shiny and corporate, and is trending even more so. We could have gotten a lot more house in Rohnert Park, but Rohnert Park is overrun with big box stores, barely distinguishable from all of those towns along the I5 in the central valley that look identical from the freeway, and any downtown they may still have is moribund.

And we don't shop at Target. Petaluma already has a K-Mart. We don't tend to buy clothing at either Target or K-Mart, which is the only place they really seem to be differentiated. Other than that, a few hours with a notebook in both stores has convinced me that K-Mart has higher end appliances, and the rest of the differentiation is that Target has a bigger advertising budget, which they pass on to the consumer.

So I guess you could toss me in the "against" camp. However, I'm sympathetic to the argument that people are going to shop at such places anyway, and until we can educate them on why that's bad we may as well collect the sales tax revenue. And all sorts of other reasons pro and con. There you have my waffling on my personal stance on the project.

Anyway, in an attempt to understand sales tax revenue, I went to http://www.californiacityfinance.com/#SALESTAX and grabbed the "Local Sales & Use Tax Revenues (BOE)" spreadsheet and started graphing. tab and started graphing. Here's Marin and Sonoma, sales tax revenues per capita:


And here's that narrowed down to the towns that I thought were useful comparisons.


Note that Cotati has an interesting jump in revenues on the 06-07 and 07-08 years. I did a little Googling and believe that this is when Lowe's opened. I don't know enough about that market to know if the subsequent 08-09 drop was that the bloom was off the new store, or if that's part of the overall construction materials trend.

Also note the general downward trend of towns that have big malls, Corte Madera, San Rafael, and, to a lesser extent, Santa Rosa.

Not sure what we can draw from this, just random data, but I thought it was interesting enough to spend a few minutes in a spreadsheet with.

Category: Dan Lyke life Category: Petaluma