Illustration by Jamie Morton

In the city of Santa Cruz, like other cities across the United States, times are tough. Unlike many places, however, we do have at least one advantage: People still want to visit. According to, tourism generates over $500 million for the county every year.

To capitalize on this happy circumstance, Mayor Don Lane and other city council members are working to get a measure on the November ballot that would raise hotel taxes from 10 percent to 12 percent.

While a 2 percent hotel tax increase is most likely a negligible expense to tourists, it could be a large gain for the Santa Cruz community.

In a recent press conference with student media (see p. 6), Lane said this could be especially beneficial because all tax money collected from hotels stays local.

In the past, the city has been forced to make many undesirable budget cuts. Local school districts have taken a hit close to $1 million already, and that will likely double this year. The Santa Cruz Metro has scaled back on its bus service since 2009. Not to mention the possibility of a desalination plant in our future — something that could potentially cost millions of dollars down the line.

That the Santa Cruz City Council is looking for creative ways to bring money into the community is commendable and comforting, given the precarious position the city finds itself in. That it would come from outside sources is an even bigger plus, and shows the council is looking out for Santa Cruzans first.

The only drawback is hotel owners might not be fond of having to drive their prices up even more, especially given that compared to other cities, our rates are already pretty high. However, the gains far outweigh the losses, especially when keeping in mind what’s good for Santa Cruz is ultimately good for the hotel industry — nobody wants to visit a run-down city.

To students who may not live in Santa Cruz for more than four or five years, voting on local issues may feel unimportant or arbitrary. Some abstain from voting on local issues because they have not done their research and do not want to harm the local vote with their uninformed ballot.

But getting something like the hotel tax increase on the ballot and voting yes would be a service to the community even the least informed voter can get behind.