Mudslide victims learn about tax relief

 At a December dinner party, resident Pat Anderson — whose house was destroyed by mudslides last February — asked La Cañada Flintridge Councilwoman Laura Olhasso if she knew how she could seek property tax relief.

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino secured state property tax breaks for homeowners who have to repair or rebuild in the wake of natural disasters, but Anderson, like many other affected residents, told Olhasso she didn’t know how to start the process.

“The idea came from Pat,” Olhasso said to a small crowd of homeowners gathered at La Cañada City Hall for a Saturday morning workshop.

Recently elected Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez and his staff gave the residents a step-by-step process on how to secure the so-called misfortune or calamity tax reassessment.
“When there is a misfortune or calamity, or a decline in value, you have every right to call us,” Noguez said.

Under the reassessment, tax liability for affected residents would be re-evaluated to reflect the damage to the property.

Noguez worked at the assessor’s office for 25 years before winning the top job in November’s election.

While the assessment typically must be applied for within a year of the disaster, Noguez and his staff agreed to work with residents affected by the Feb. 6, 2010, mudslide who have not yet applied for the tax relief.

Property owners who saw mudslide-related damage of at least $10,000 should contact the assessor’s office to begin the process, officials said.

Noguez also addressed concerns from residents who said the continued threat of mudslides, along with the constant presence of concrete barriers, has significantly affected their property values.

“It looks like a war zone up there …” said Ocean View Boulevard resident Tara Durkan. “There’s no curb appeal, so we need some help.”

Residents were told they could apply online for “decline-in-value” assessments, which if approved would also result in a temporary break on tax bills.

La Cañada resident Sue Beatty said she hoped to receive some financial relief after spending thousands to remove mud from her pool and property after the winter storms.

“We thought insurance would cover it, but it didn’t,” she said.

FYI: For more information, visit the Los Angeles County assessor’s website at

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