New county parcel tax: Candidates Booker, Chang Kiraly oppose it; Parmer-Lohan favors it; Mueller wants more information

Daily Post Staff Writer

Two of the four candidates running to replace San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley in the June 7 primary are opposed to the county putting a parcel tax on the November ballot. A third candidate supports the tax and the fourth wants to hear from voters before taking a position.

The board of supervisors has hired a political consultant to find out if the public would go for a tax that would fund, as a county memo put it, “climate resiliency, wildfire risks and emergency preparedness.”

Steven Booker, a Half Moon Bay resident and political director for the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers 617, told the Post that while he would need to do more research on this particular tax, his initial feelings is that it’s not a good idea to put a tax measure on the November ballot given inflation, gas prices and the uncertainty in Ukraine.

He said that an additional tax in one of the most expensive counties in the state will hurt working families, especially the ones who are not teleworking and have to commute to their jobs every day.

Virginia Chang Kiraly, who is on the Menlo Park Fire Board and the county’s Harbor Board, said she’s against the tax. Chang Kiraly said one reason is she’d like to see current agencies working together to plan and fund such projects, instead of another tax that increases the cost of living when inflation is at a 40-year high and gas prices are at $6 a gallon.

She pointed out that both of the boards she’s on have worked on projects to mitigate climate change. A big one is a project along the “living shoreline project” at Pillar Point Harbor, which is aimed at restoring the beach, improving drainage and fight erosion from sea level rise.

‘Bold action’ on climate

San Carlos Councilwoman Laura Parmer-Lohan said she’s in support of the tax, saying that because climate change is an ongoing crisis, sea level rise and wildfires need to be addressed.

Parmer-Lohan said she’s discussed the topic with Supervisor Don Horsley, who she is hoping to replace. Horsley has endorsed Parmer-Lohan.
“The community wants swift and bold action” related to climate change, Parmer-Lohan said.

She said that sea level rise has resulted in high tides, called king tides, that reach the doorsteps of Pacifica residents and put a pier out of commission.
Parmer-Lohan said she’d like to fund projects called out in the county’s One Shoreline list, which includes instituting a countywide flood early warning system and protecting Redwood Shores and San Carlos from sea level rise.

Health care funding

Ray Mueller, a councilman in Menlo Park, said he hasn’t studied the issue too much, but said he’s currently concerned about the county’s health care system.

He pointed out that the coastside doesn’t have an emergency room and the county health department was facing budget shortages before Covid.

Mueller said if he were to support a tax measure, he’d want to hear from voters and hear if they think a particular issue ought to be funded.

He said he would then look at what kind of taxes are available to the county. He said he’s in favor of finding a tax that would not hurt people who have been financially impacted by the pandemic.

Four choices in June primary

The four are facing off in the June primary, the top two-vote getter will face one another in November.

Horsley is termed out this year. His district includes San Carlos, Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley, Pacifica, Half Moon Bay and parts of Menlo Park and Belmont.

Horsley and the other four members of the board of supervisors voted on Tuesday to add $198,000 to a political consultant’s contract to study whether voters would support a county parcel tax. The consultant — Terris Barnes Walter Boigon Heath Lester Inc. — will conduct polls to let the supervisors know if such a tax would pass. With the change made on Tuesday, the maximum that the consultant can bill the county is $835,000.


  1. No more tax!!! Home owners in the county are already stretched There seems to be an assumption we are rich bc our properties are worth a lot. I work minimum wage to supplement my retirement. Here in Moss Beach we were recently hit with additional taxes to replace our sewers. Excessive taxes are making impossible for average folks to live and own in the county

  2. What a cop out by Mueller. He doesn’t know if he favors high taxes or not? I think he’s a tax-raiser who wants to keep that secret for now. Or else why wouldn’t he just say no? Just another politician.

  3. Ray Mueller never met a real estate developer or a tax he didn’t like.
    He was funded almost exclusively by realtors during his city council career here. He never voted against a tax or an eviction, ever.

    • Ray – I thought you said your wife was a school teacher? “dispersion” means an act of distribution over an area. I think you meant “aspersion” which means an attack on someone’s reputation. Either way tho commenters were simply trying to get you to commit to being against new taxes. It shouldn’t be that hard unless you’re trying to distract from the fact you’re a tax and spend guy. You’re a lawyer right? In the future, try answering the question or at least pull out a dictionary before you go all incoherent in the comments section.

  4. I am ONLY in Favor of another dern Parcel Tax on my already climbing property tax bill if there is a Senior Exemption. We already have a line item on our property taxes for Measure AA, BUT while it taxes ever parcel in the 9-County Bay Area it will not contribute a single penny for issues on the Coastside, only the Bayside, yet they tax us anyway. 20 year tax started in 2016 fir twenty years! What a Rip-Off! It created a new Authority and is for “Bay Restoration”. Seniors already bear the burden of multiple School Bobds for which there are NO exemptions. Don’t chase folks out if the County! We don’t all live in Menlo Park!

  5. When will this state, the counties and cities ever figure out that we need more than a one party rule? Balance would be just wonderful in all of our lives. But, until that happens (if ever again) your nuts to trust a guy like Ray Mueller. He’s too much like Biden, just try to grow a pair Ray!

    • This comment has nothing to do with the article — yet crudely advocates for “balance.”

      Was “Rob S” capable of actually reading the article?

      Write your own op-ed “Rob S” if you have something to say; but if you do, please proofread for typos!

  6. Ray Mueller is an Attorney. Raymond Donald Mueller, a search of his bar number 215358 shows it is likely he is most associated with several asbestos law firms, like John Edwards.

  7. Greetings.
    Just wanted to share the reality is I voted against raising my city’s user utility taxes every time they have come before the City Council over the last ten years. I also don’t vote “on evictions”, as a City Councilmember. With respect to some of the other unflattering comments on the thread, I respect people are entitled to their first amendment rights, no matter the dispersion.

  8. If Ray is against higher taxes, all he has to do is say so. It sounds like he wants to raise taxes but doesn’t have the guts to admit it. He should have given a “yes” or “no” answer. His response doesn’t pass the smell test.

  9. Thank you for your comment Beth.

    In Menlo Park we have started the process to achieve building our sea wall with grants from FEMA and PG&E. We haven’t raised taxes to build our sea wall. I am the only candidate in the race who actually has that experience.

    And I agree it’s a terrible time to ask voters to consider a tax.

    What I also know is Pacifica is threatened by sea level rise, and many homeowners are seeing their fire insurance cancelled on the San Mateo County Coast, in Pacifica, in unincorporated County, in Woodside, Portola Valley and Pacifica. The question I have is will fire mitigation action by the County save those insurance policies. What will exended delay cost taxpayers, in anything, in terms of lost policies? How much mitigation is required to save policies, and how big is the funding gap? What is the delta in lost value to taxpayers if we wait. What will the cost to taxpayers be in the longterm, if anything, if we wait on the sea level rise protections in the district, as the ocean tears away the seawall Pacifica? After getting answers to questions like these, I would want to share it with the public, and discuss how to proceed, while also reviewing how much state and Federal money is available to shore up funding gaps.

    I am not for raising taxes. I am for gathering information about real problems that may cause financial ruin to families in San Mateo County, and talking with residents about what funding is available to fix those problems at the Federal, State and local level.

    I hope the information is helpful.

  10. when a candidate is wishy-washy about raising taxes in a campaign, i know what he’ll do if elected — raise them. sorry, ray, i wasn’t born yesterday.

  11. I think it is important to create a new tax so the government can have more money to hand out to people so they can afford all the new taxes. Oh, wait, maybe we should just stop with all the new taxes and cut government spending instead?

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