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Letters to the Editor: Think before leaving California for Nashville, says an ex-Tennessean

A view of 12th Avenue in Nashville, home to a lively urban neighborhood with many residents who moved from out of state.
A view of 12th Avenue in Nashville, home to a lively urban neighborhood with many residents who moved from out of state.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: After not quite 30 years in Nashville — which your recent article described as a major destination for people leaving California — my wife and I were asked by her aging parents to move back to her hometown of Pasadena in 2000.

We were more than ready. Although we had a nice house in a lively, activist neighborhood, the stubborn refusal of the body politic to enact much-needed tax reforms, such as instituting an income tax and removing the nearly 10% or so sales tax on goods and services (including non-prescription drugs and the lower rate on groceries), as well as the increasingly conservative drift in the state’s politics, had already begun stalling the drift toward more enlightened governance.

We go back to visit every other year or so. We were there in November, enjoying time with friends and family, but not very much of Nashville itself. The 12 South area, where I once had a house and remember as an up-and-coming neighborhood, is now packed with young bar hoppers. Only the stunning new National Museum of African American Music redeemed downtown for us.

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A very wise person once said, “Taxes are the rent you pay for where you want to live.” I agree with that, only modifying it to “the kinds of taxes.”

Will Owen, Pasadena

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To the editor: Todd Hood says he moved his brewery from California to Nashville in part because he values Tennessee’s limited government. “Any way that California can screw you they will,” he says.

It’s true that Hood can now legally pay his employees just $7.25 an hour. And housing is of course cheaper.

But otherwise, I wonder if Hood did his homework.

The excise tax on his own product is 20 cents per gallon in California but $1.29 in Tennessee, the highest rate in the nation. And did Hood know about his new state’s 15% liquor-by-the-drink tax?

Tennessee’s combined state and average local sales tax rate is 9.54%, the highest in the U.S. And the state taxes groceries. In 2020, the year Hood moved his brewery to Nashville, city homeowners sustained a 34% tax hike (the state is one of only four with no limit on property tax increases).

That doesn’t sound like limited government to me.

Brad Bonhall, Reno

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To the editor: When I was in college in Indiana, we rushed through the South to get to Florida for spring break. There was nothing to stop for, except cheap cigarettes.

Now Californians are leaving here for a cheap house there?

The beach and the 405 Freeway still seem pretty crowded to me, so I say to these wannabe Southerners, “Vaya con Dios.”

Cheryl Clark, Long Beach


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