Panel: Calif. city downtown tax may be illegal

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(AP) – A grand jury panel is calling for an investigation into whether a special tax on a predominantly Latino business hub in downtown Santa Ana is illegal.

The Los Angeles Times reports Friday that the panel wants Orange County prosecutors to study whether the city illegally created a 66-block tax district in a 2008 election in which only 25 percent of ballots mailed to property owners were returned.

The tax was created to fund extra security, marketing and promotional events in a shopping district lined with quinceanera dress shops and restaurants.

Many business owners oppose the tax and accuse the city of trying to gentrify an area that has long served Latino customers.

Santa Ana City Manager Paul Walters says the city attorney will evaluate the report and make recommendations.

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