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Letters to the Editor: Landlords charge market rents without paying market taxes. Prop. 15 fixes that

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

To the editor: Columnist George Skelton tries to muddy the waters on Proposition 15, which would reform property taxes in California.

When Proposition 13 was on the ballot in 1978, all we heard about was those poor old people who were going to lose their homes because of property taxes going up. The proponents did not talk about all the apartment building and comercial property owners who would benefit.

I am happy that people got to hang onto their homes because of Proposition13, but I am certainly not happy that apartment building and commercial property owners got the same benefit. Those same owners have raised rents again and again without paying taxes based on market value.

As Skelton notes, California needs a tax overhaul bigger than what Proposition 15 would provide, but right now we have a chance to vote yes on this intitiatve and make commercial property owners pay their fair share for a change.

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Dawn Sharp, Claremont

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To the editor: Day after day the L.A. Times reports on how badly different industries are doing. Now it’s movie theaters, recently it was bookstores, and last week it was the Walt Disney Co. having to lay off 28,000 employees largely because Disneyland is still closed.

Yet somehow, the L.A. Times Editorial Board endorsed Proposition 15, which will increase property taxes on commercial real estate.

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If rent is not being paid, where is the money to pay the mortgage, insurance and property taxes going to come from? With the glut of restaurant, office and retail space getting larger, foreclosures are right around the corner.

William Toth, Studio City

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To the editor: Business groups are making the specious argument that Proposition 15 will push up rents for small businesses. In reality, landlords cannot simply pass on unlimited costs beyond what the market will bear.

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My business is in Glendale. Nearby shops are vacant, closing or struggling to survive. In this climate, my landlord, who had previously raised my rent several times, recently offered me a 35% rent reduction. She told me she did not want to lose any more tenants.

Commercial and residential rents are likely to continue their downward trajectory. Furthermore, there is going to be less need for brick-and-mortar spaces. The immediate impact of all this will be increased building vacancies and significant downward pressure on rents.

Small businesses face difficulties today, but rent increases aren’t one of them. In contrast, the rapid loss of tax revenue and the consequent painful cuts are real concerns. Businesses don’t want to set up shop in a city with inadequate municipal services and poorly funded public schools.

John Ballon, Glendale


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