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Santa Clara County supervisors vote to endorse Prop 13 reform measure

Original post made on Jul 22, 2020

A state ballot measure that would upend decades of property tax protections for large commercial owners will soon have another proponent, after Santa Clara County supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to support Proposition 15.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 22, 2020, 1:46 PM

Comments (22)

14 people like this
Posted by Rodger
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 22, 2020 at 2:55 pm

Proposition 15 is a sledge hammer , vote no and let’s work on a fairer idea.
Not sure how to do this off hand but the authors of 15 had more time and they didn’t want to think, just slam the problem.
No way
By the way I don’t own commercial property and I didn’t vote for Prop 13 way back when it was passed


21 people like this
Posted by Alex M
a resident of Willowgate
on Jul 22, 2020 at 2:59 pm

I agree with assessor Larry Stone, this is the wrong fix. All that should be needed is to remove the loopholes, in particular the one that retains the prop 13 tax rates when a business changes ownership. Then small family-run businesses would be fine up until the time they try to sell out, and whoever buys it would be paying market rates.


26 people like this
Posted by Tina
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2020 at 3:43 pm

Unfortunately this will probably pass. This just puts the nail in the coffin on small businesses that are already struggling because of covid. I rent a small office in MTN for 20 yrs and my landlord has kept the rents in his buildings low because the family has owned the property for many years. If they get reassessed the rents will triple and all the10 small businesses will be gone. Be careful what you vote for.


17 people like this
Posted by Tenants will pay this tax increase
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 22, 2020 at 3:57 pm

All these apartment complexes are commercial properties. If the property taxes goes up, tenants will have an rent increase as rent control allows this to be passed on to tenants.

San Francisco tenants know this very well as every time a building is sold, property taxes are allowed to be passed onto tenants.


7 people like this
Posted by Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:28 pm

It would be nice if the article commented on residential rental real estate. My understanding is that this won't apply to it. Only to Commercial and Industrial properties. Also, small businesses will be phased in in 2025-26.


7 people like this
Posted by Strong communities and schools
a resident of another community
on Jul 22, 2020 at 5:55 pm

Vote for Prop 15 on Nov 3!!! We absolutely need this reform of Prop 13. Our state, local governments, and especially our schools, have increasingly been starved for revenue ever since passage of Prop 13. Before Prop 13, California k-12 schools were ranked top in the nation. In the years following Prop 13, California schools have struggled for funding, harming the equitable education of our future workforce and voting citizenry.

Before Prop 13, the burden of property taxation in California had been split 50-50 between homeowners and business. Now homeowners pick up 70% of the property tax burden and their share will continue to increase.

It never made sense for owners of income-producing commercial property to be given the same taxation protections that long-term Californians needed to be able to stay in their homes in their retirement years. Businesses generate cash to be able to pay property taxes. Our homes do not generate cash.

Thank you, Mr. Forestieri, for addressing Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone’s ridiculous logistical arguments against the merits of Prop 15. Resident Rob Brownstein is absolutely right in his criticisms of Mr. Stone’s whining about doing his job. If Mr. Stone really felt that the challenges to his office from Prop 15 were a problem, he should be lobbying for extra funding to be able to do his job properly, instead of going on his naysayer’s tour of public meetings to oppose the collection of much needed tax revenue. As any analysis shows, it pays to invest in tax collection. It sounds like it’s time for a new assessor who is up to doing the work of assessing so that our communities and schools can be funded in a decent way.

Let’s work together to pass Prop 15 for stronger communities and schools! It’s going to take each of us voting for this proposition and advocating for it with our family and friends. The business community will come at this with lots of money and disinformation. Businesses don’t vote though (yet, anyway — who knows where we’re headed?). People vote, and we can win if we stick together.


12 people like this
Posted by @ROSSTA
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 22, 2020 at 9:39 pm

You asked/said,
"residential rental real estate. My understanding is that this won't apply to it. Only to Commercial and Industrial properties"

Apartment buildings that have 5 or more units are commercial properties.

Residential apartments buildings are 4 units or less.


13 people like this
Posted by @@Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 22, 2020 at 11:07 pm

The fact that opponents of Prop 15 need to lie about what is in it tells all of us enough to know whether to vote for it. Thanks! If you insist that you're not lying, point us to where in the proposition your claim is supported.


10 people like this
Posted by @@@ROSSTA
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 12:34 am

Since you are a proponent of rent increases to renters, why do you have to lie to them to get their vote?

Simply copy and paste where the measure says that multifamily properties of 5 units or more are exempt from this tax increase.

A simple read from everywhere says all commercial and Industrial properties of $3 million and up will be reassessed to market value. It does not exempt commercial apartment properties.


28 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2020 at 6:45 am

Just a reality check here:

The reports that apartments will take a hit are promoted by a commercial property group and NOT the state LAO.

So much misinformation going on. Here is the news article, WHICH IS NOT A NEWS REPORT BUT AN OPINION, making the false argument titled "Why November could mean the end of Prop 13 and an $11.4 billion increase in property taxes for commercial owners and tenants"(Web Link)

The internet age has allowed for MISINFORMATION to run rampant and we need to be prepared for an assault on us regarding false claims.

I personally will vote for the Prop 13 reform.


12 people like this
Posted by @@Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 8:48 am

From the Proposition text: ""Residential property" shall include real property used as residential property, including
both single-family and multi-unit structures, and the land on which those structures are
constructed or placed."

Thanks for playing, it's unfortunate that the opponents of the measure need to lie. Next time, remember that whoever told you this was lying to you.


30 people like this
Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 9:04 am

Vote yes on proposition 15! Fix the corporate property tax loophole!

The usual argument in defense of proposition 13 capping property taxes on long-time landowners is that we don't want rising property values to hit homeowners on fixed incomes.

It has always been absurd to apply that argument to for-profit corporations!

Why should IBM, an over 100 year old corporation, get to pay a decades-older lower property tax rate than mortal human homeowners? At least human homeowners sometimes sell their property, triggering a reassessment of property values and taxes. Corporations -- legal fictions -- are effectively immortal. Holding companies don't have to sell property, they can sign 99 year leases with other companies, keeping their low low property tax rates in perpetuity.

Prop 15 is extremely necessary and overdue closing of that loophole.

The COVID recession adds even more urgency. Our schools and community services need safegaurding now more than ever.


37 people like this
Posted by Jeremy Hoffman
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jul 23, 2020 at 9:08 am

Like, I get it. Taxes always feel a little bad. But unless you're an anarchist, you support SOME kind of taxes. So the question is, what kind of taxes are best for our society?

Say you had to choose between these taxes:

1. Sales taxes on consumer goods.
2. Income taxes on middle class workers.
3. Property taxes on large landowning corporations.

Prop 15 is a chance to vote for 3. I jump in it.


25 people like this
Posted by Tax giant corporations
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 23, 2020 at 10:06 am

4. Tax giant corporations. Don't just subsidize them!


11 people like this
Posted by Harms Local School Districts?
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jul 23, 2020 at 11:41 am

@Kevin Forestieri

The initial version of this proposal specified that for "Basic Aid" districts, future increases in local property taxes would flow to the State, rather than stay local to school districts.

All three of our local districts, LASD, MVWSD, and MVLA are Basic Aid districts, which are funded almost entirely from local property taxes. Losing increases in that funding would be potentially devestating to our local districts, as they don't receive State funding.

If this provision is still in the "fine print", it's a hugely significant item that should not be hidden from the voters. Further, if this item remains in the proposition, broadly trumpeting this measure as beneficial to schools is deceitful.

Please check.


2 people like this
Posted by Oculus
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 23, 2020 at 12:51 pm

I very much support the concept of a split roll. This measure would have my enthusiastic support if the change in rates were to be phased in over time by introducing a higher limit on property tax increases for corporations than for residences. Rather than limit increases to 2% per year as for homeowners, this measure could have limited the increases on commercial property to 12% a year. At 12% a year, property taxes would increase 10-fold in a little over 20 years.

We’ve been digging the hole some companies are in for 44 years. The lack of a phase-in makes this measure much harder for me to support, although I suspect if this were to pass some amendment to phase it in or maybe some other relief would be before us soon enough.

This one is a tough choice for me.


1 person likes this
Posted by smorr
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 23, 2020 at 7:42 pm

Read the details of the proposition instead of relying on opinions and misinformation. Then make your own informed decision.
I strongly support it. It is well thought out.

Facts:
-Residential and agricultural properties are exempt.

-It doesn't affect small businesses. There are stipulations for landlords of commercial properties that rent to small businesses so that the small business owners are protected. (I'd have to reread the details, but I know it's addressed.)

My recollection is that the money gets divided between the school district and local government with the larger portion going to schools, but I'd need to double check that.

Please read the proposition carefully to find the answers to your questions and concerns.


31 people like this
Posted by smorr
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 23, 2020 at 7:44 pm

Read the details of the proposition instead of relying on opinions and misinformation. Then make your own informed decision.
I strongly support it. It is well thought out.
Facts:
-Residential and agricultural properties are exempt.
-It doesn't affect small businesses. There are stipulations for landlords of commercial properties that rent to small businesses so that the small business owners are protected. (I'd have to reread the details, but I know it's addressed.)
My recollection is that the money gets divided between the school district and local government with the larger portion going to schools, but I'd need to double check that.
Please read the proposition carefully to find the answers to your questions and concerns.


2 people like this
Posted by Tina
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2020 at 8:45 am

The vote will pass, but the money will be spent on shoring up pensions, there is no choice. These folks were promised and we should deliver.


6 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2020 at 5:44 pm

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

As someone who has studied school funding and property taxes on the Peninsula for the past decade, I was thoroughly disheartened by both this article and the hearing itself (available online on the County website).

While correct that Assessor Larry Stone was abused by a number of callers, there was absolutely no call for this reporter to repeat the abuse in print -- however amusing the quip -- without having done any research to see if it was justified. I strongly suggest that he listen to the archived hearings held by the State Board of Equalization (July 23) and State Legislature (June 4). If the MV Voice wants civility on Town Square, it doesn't need to pile unvalidated disrespect on public officials.

More significantly, Sup. Ellenberg kicked off the discussion with an untruth. She stated that property taxes do not leave the county in which they are collected. While currently true, this proposition changes that. And it proceeds to remove half a billion dollars -- almost half of the entire net collected new revenue -- from Santa Clara County.

Read the text -- not the verbiage. The very first line of the new constitutional language states, "The Local School and Community College Property Tax Fund is hereby created in the State Treasury ..." then, one and a half pages later, the revenue resulting from this new property tax assessment regulation, "... shall be allocated and transferred by the county auditor as follows: First, to the Local School and Community College Property Tax Fund ... in an amount equal to the school entities' share of property taxes ..." That is the sound of $713 million a year leaving Santa Clara County.

How much comes back? $140 million. Why? Because only $100 per student is allocated for basic-aid districts. That's you, Mountain View. And Palo Alto. Saratoga. Los Altos. Los Gatos. Sunnyvale.

What about Gilroy? San Jose? Milpitas? Cupertino Elementary? They get 6.3% of their current Local Control Funding Formula entitlement. $114 million. And, in fact, they pay for it out of their own new local tax revenue -- AND contribute to the net $500 million that never comes back.

But at least basic-aids get something? No. Probably not. Aside from the cut to their unsecured property tax as a result of the new business personal property exclusion, all new construction and property appreciation on commercial industrial properties flows into the fund. (Commercial properties henceforth would be reassessed very three years -- no interim assessments and all appreciation automatically credited to the proposition. The legislature is tasked with deciding how much to credit back to underlying school districts. How much do you think they want to allow to the wealthy basic aids in the rich Bay Area counties?) According to July research by the same proponents, Blue Sky, posted by KQED, 30% of the new revenue is from properties that changed hands in the last ten years. Almost a third of the "new" commercial industrial revenue would already have flowed to school districts. This is not closing a loophole -- it is cannibalizing future revenues.

I cannot believe the County Executive didn't analyze this measure. If he'd read the fine print, he'd have realized the joke was truly on him. "School entities" as used in the legislative language above includes ERAF -- and the initiative specifically exempts the new (including cannibalized) revenue from the VLF Swap (aka Section 97.70 of the Revenue and Taxation Code). There goes all the lovely excess ERAF and Tax-in-Lieu on the schools' commercial tax increment.

One supervisor had the experience to explain this proposition -- Joe Simitian. Unfortunately, the vote was taken early so Sup. Ellenberg could leave to attend another meeting. When Sup. Simitian did speak -- after voting yes earlier -- he said the measure had required time, energy, study ... it was imperfect ... we "rarely get to vote on perfect legislation..." Perhaps not -- but I think Santa Clara residents deserved to understand why he felt that it was in their "best interests" that $1.2 billion of tax revenue be raised here -- of which $500 million would go elsewhere. Especially since Santa Clara County residents already contribute $10 billion a year of personal income tax -- only $3 billion of which is needed to cover their per-capita share of state services. The remaining $7 billion forms a quarter of the funding for every underfunded school district in the 40 state counties that cannot pay for themselves -- and for their community colleges -- and every CSU and UC in the state.

In speaking to the Board, Assessor Stone talked of how, whenever government promises something that can’t be achieved, it just increases the mistrust and cynicism that the public has towards government and public officials.

He spoke the truth and you mocked him.


Like this comment
Posted by Strong communities and schools
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2020 at 6:05 pm

Strong communities and schools is a registered user.

@Jennifer Bestor: exactly what the article said about Larry Stone is presented below, and the residents quoted are speaking the truth. If Larry Stone wants to complain about doIng his job of assessing, he should be mocked and we will get somebody else to be Santa Clara County Assessor. It’s a shame he seems to have become a tool of corporate interests. The text from the article:

Speakers at the meeting criticized Larry Stone for his stance, saying the work to reassess properties is his office's job and that the logistical challenge isn't enough of a hurdle to derail the ballot measure. Resident Bob Brownstein said Stone was taking a defeatist approach, but was also being dishonest by saying his office only had 18 months to begin the grueling process of reassessing properties. Proposition 15 starts the phased approach in the 2022-23 fiscal year.
“The U.S. Air Force has a slogan: The difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a little longer,” Brownstein said. "Mr. Stone's slogan seems to be 'If it's hard to do, don't even try.'"

Palo Alto resident Kelsey Banes argued it was disingenuous to say commercial landlords are going to raise the rent on their tenants in order to offset higher taxes, noting that many are already charging market rate.


Like this comment
Posted by Ok
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 9, 2020 at 9:08 am

Ok is a registered user.

@Jennifer Bestor, thank you for the info.


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