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Opinion: If you’re a homeowner who loves Prop. 13, you’re being helped a lot less than commercial property owners

Howard Jarvis, chief sponsor of Proposition 13, signals victory as he casts his vote in Los Angeles on June 6, 1978.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Commercial and industrial property owners claim that reforming Proposition 13 by creating a “split roll” that separates them from homeowners would cause major harm to the state’s business climate. They’re saying that paying higher taxes increases the costs they must pass on to customers. (“A major change to Proposition 13 takes its first step toward the 2018 ballot,” Dec. 15)

But when these same property owners raise their lease rates a small percentage each year, they do not mention if those increases are also passed on to consumers. They never claim these increases are “anti-business.”

These are the same people who have shifted the property tax burden to residential homeowners by avoiding commercial property reassessment. They use using a loophole Howard Jarvis built into Proposition 13: If no single owner has a majority stake in the property, then no reassessment is done after a sale. They divide ownership into three or more parts and sell less than half per transaction.

How big a shift in property tax burden? Residential owners bore about 55% of the total property tax burden in California prior to Proposition 13; today, they bear more than 70%. Today, commercial property owners’ share is less than 30%.

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James Clark, Torrance

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