Pros and cons of Prop. 13
Re “Mervin Field questions California,” Opinion, Aug. 1
Right on, Mervin. Proposition 13 was primarily designed by Howard Jarvis, an apartment owners lobbyist, to benefit owners of apartment houses and commercial properties. It works out that way because property is reassessed only when it changes hands. On average, commercial properties change ownership far less frequently than single-family homes. Disneyland is assessed at a nickel per square foot, but if it were sold today, the new owner would be paying much more.
Worse, the power to tax has moved from local control to Sacramento. Those over the age of 50 will remember that local boards and councils used to set a tax rate that determined how much your tax would be after applying the current property value. And if we didn’t like it, we could yell at them directly. When’s the last time you went to Sacramento to yell at your state representative? Now, only Sacramento lobbyists are heard.
Field doesn’t seem to understand much about Proposition 13. Since Proposition 13 was passed in 1978, millions of homes have been sold and reassessed at much higher rates. During the last housing boom, state and local governments greatly benefited from the massive increase in the assessed value of homes that were sold. Also, our property taxes increase periodically to cover everything from the failing Los Angeles Unified School District to city projects.
What angers most voters is massive waste and the bloated contracts for state and local workers, which include benefits that most private-sector workers don’t receive.
Does anyone remember when Arnold Schwarzenegger was running for governor? He consulted with Warren Buffett, the financial guru. Buffett correctly informed him that he must get rid of Proposition 13. Schwarzenegger promptly ignored Buffett’s advice. If he had listened to him, we would surely not be in this current mess.
Let’s hope our next governor has more common sense.