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County Posts Minuscule Gain in Property Values

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Reflecting a sluggish and flat economy, Ventura County property values rose only 1.52% during the past year--a minuscule increase over the year before, but higher than county officials had expected.

New construction and sales of older houses contributed to the slight increase posted Wednesday, the second-smallest since the Proposition 13 tax rollback of 1978.

County officials had expected little or no increase during fiscal year 1994-95 because of the downturned economy.

“I am quite surprised it went up 1.52%,” County Assessor Glenn E. Gray said. “I thought we might be lucky to break even.”

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For the past five years, the county has experienced only minimal increases in property values, which bottomed out last year with a rise of just 1.48%, the smallest since Proposition 13.

The meager rise in property values during the 1990s contrasts sharply with the increases of the 1980s. The average gain in property value was 12.2% the previous decade. During fiscal year 1980-81, property values rose 17.18%.

“Some people have lost a lot of money,” Gray said. “You wonder if some [property values] will ever get back to where they were.”

Presently, about 19.8% of the homes in Ventura County are frozen at 1975 property values, he said.

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The meager increase for the past year reflects an economic malaise that has gripped the housing market for years, economists say, although housing prices have recently stabilized.

During the second quarter of this year, in fact, they have even started to creep up. Compared to the same period last year, the price of a single-family house rose from $230,234 to $231,677, according to TRW REDI Property Data.

Moorpark, Ventura County’s fastest-growing city, saw the largest rise in property values the past year--3.26%. Property values in Oxnard, Fillmore, Thousand Oaks and Camarillo all rose more than 2%, while Ventura and Santa Paula rose less than 1%.

In contrast, Port Hueneme experienced a sharp drop of 3.90%. City officials were at a loss to explain the fall in real estate values--in fiscal year 1993-94, the city saw a rise of 6.04%.

“There is absolutely no explanation I have off the top of my head,” said Tom Figg, community development director.

Figg said he had not seen the new figures released by the county assessor’s office Wednesday, but was surprised that property values had decreased in Port Hueneme.

“There hasn’t been any sort of watershed event that would do that,” he said. “It may be there were one or two properties that were dramatically overvalued.”

Since 1990, the county assessor’s office has lowered the taxable value of about 28% of properties countywide.

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By reducing property values where the real estate market has been depressed, county officials also reduce property taxes.

More than 62,000 homeowners and businesses will receive tax breaks this year as a result of the continuing slump. According to Gray: “That is the highest it has been.”

Property owners who received a property value reduction have been notified by mail, county officials said. Land owners who did not receive notification and believe that their property value has fallen should contact the assessor’s office.

Property values for the past fiscal year were posted Tuesday, a month later than the close of the fiscal year.

The State Board of Equalization extended the county’s deadline for filing its annual assessment roll because the assessor’s office is understaffed and faced a heavy workload. The office has been scaled back from to 149 workers to 96 over the past four years.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Property Values

Many homeowners saw their property assessments decline, but the total assessed value of property went up in most Ventura County cities because of new construction and other factors. The following are assessed property values for the county’s 10 cities and Oak Park:

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City % change Camarillo +2.52 Fillmore +2.33 Oak Park +0.40 Oxnard +2.23 Ojai +1.12 Moorpark +3.26 Port Hueneme -3.90 Santa Paula +0.38 Simi Valley -0.95 Thousand Oaks -2.18 Ventura +0.14 Countywide +1.52

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Source: Ventura County Assessor’s Office


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