News

Former assemblyman wants to reform Prop 13

Former Assemblyman Rich Gordon, who represented Mountain View, plans to run for Board of Equalization in 2018

The role of government is to serve the common good, says Rich Gordon, a former United Methodist minister, former state assemblyman whose district included Mountain View, former San Mateo County supervisor and advocate of bipartisanship.

The common good has long been Gordon's aim, whether in his efforts with troubled youth, with a public education system that does not serve all students equally, with creating housing affordable for people with low and moderate incomes, with protecting a natural environment that is under threat.

"Government, I believe, should help bring people together, help us find areas of community togetherness," Gordon told the Voice's sister paper, the Almanac, in a recent interview. "I also believe that government is one of the ways in which we take care of each other. Not the only way. It can't be. But it is one way."

There may be more to come from Gordon's efforts toward the common good, and this time the issue is taxes.

Gordon, a Democrat and resident of Menlo Oaks for 28 years, will be running in 2018 for a seat on the five-member state Board of Equalization, which administers and collects taxes, including sales, property and use taxes.

He was recently termed out of the state Assembly after six years of representing a district that includes Los Altos, Mountain View, Menlo Park and Palo Alto. Before that, he served 12 years as a San Mateo County supervisor and five years on the county Board of Education -- a 23-year career in which he never lost an election.

Serving on the tax board is a "wonky" job, particularly the administration side of it, but one well-suited for someone with his management background, Gordon said.

"Making a deep dive into the policy arena is something that intrigues me very much," he said. "For me, I think it's a good fit. ... We need to make sure we collect what is rightfully owed to California, and collect it fairly and equitably."

Gordon will be running to succeed former assemblywoman Fiona Ma, who has announced her candidacy for the 2018 race for state treasurer. Asked if he might seek another legislative office, Gordon, who is 68, said that while he has learned never to say never, if he wins a four-year term on Board of Equalization, a second term might follow. "I don't see much beyond that," he said.

Proposition 13

It's time, Gordon said, "to have a conversation about reforming Proposition 13," which voters approved in 1978 to regulate increases in property taxes.

Over time, Gordon said, inequities "built into the system" have appeared, including widely varying tax obligations among residential neighbors and between commercial and residential property owners, and varying tax revenue streams to public agencies. The Menlo Park Fire Protection District, for example, receives significantly more in property tax revenues than the combined total received by the cities the district serves: Atherton, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

Proposition 13's purpose made sense and continues to make sense, Gordon said. The key is figuring out whether there is a way to solve the inequity while maintaining the predictability of the tax rate and protecting people from being priced out of their homes.

Being on the Board of Equalization would give him a platform for raising such issues, perhaps through public forums, he said. But essential to the process will be public interest, legislative hearings and the will to generate solutions, he said.

While Proposition 13 will be a priority, transparency in government -- particularly on the Board of Equalization -- will be another, along with addressing the state government's dependence on volatile and wildly swinging income and capital gains taxes.

Early endorsement

In the 2016 race to succeed him, Gordon endorsed the eventual winner, then-Palo Alto Councilman Marc Berman, in June 2015 for a primary race in June 2016.

At the time, the only other Democrat running was Mountain View Councilman Mike Kasperzak, but more Democrats eventually joined the race.

Asked why he endorsed Berman so early, Gordon said he wanted to be succeeded by someone with local government experience, and that he had contacted Berman in 2010 after he had dropped out of the Assembly race. Gordon said he told Berman that he thought he had a future in politics, but that he should run for city council first, which Berman did.

Berman is inquisitive, Gordon said. "To do public service well and participate in the state Legislature, you've got to have a high level of intellectual curiosity," he said, meaning "a desire to learn something new every day."

Pension payments

During Gordon's time in state office, he participated in legislating reforms to the system of pensions for public employees, including requiring employees to contribute more, and ending the practice of spiking, in which employees manipulate their end-of-career salaries to increase their long-term benefits.

"I always saw that (legislation) as the start and not the finish. Often times, elected officials declare victory and they're done," he said. "It is a problem that is going to make funding government more difficult if we don't find a system that does right by employees and yet is fair to the taxpayer. ... It ought to be part of the conversation in the next governor's race."

Core values

Gordon is a San Mateo County native. An oft-told story around his family dinner table as a child concerned his grandmother who, at the start of the Great Depression, moved with her husband to Oakland. The couple had an income when many families did not. Gordon's grandmother made a daily pot of stew she put on the back porch to feed people from a nearby homeless encampment. "If you were fortunate enough, you gave it away. You served others," Gordon said.

College for him began in 1966, a time of upheaval. The Vietnam War, the anti-war movement, the civil rights movement and the women's movement had a profound impact on him, he said. He majored in sociology at the University of Southern California and then in divinity for a master's degree from Northwestern University.

Gordon's interest in working with groups, and growing up in a church-going family, drew him to the ministry, particularly with role models such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and Daniel and Philip Berrigan, Roman Catholic priests engaged in anti-war and anti-nuclear protests. "I saw the church and the ministry as a way to help make social change," he said.

He was ordained a deacon in the United Methodist Church, the first of a two-step process, but never took the second step to become an elder. Assigned a street ministry in Chicago, he worked with at-risk youth. He continued youth work at YMCAs in Orange County and Redwood City, and in nonprofits he founded, including Daybreak, an eight-bed facility for homeless youth in Redwood City, and MiMe's Cafe in Redwood City, an outlet where students at the Opportunities Industrialization Center West practiced culinary arts before it closed in 2008.

He is now working part-time in government relations at Caminar for Mental Health in San Mateo.

Asked how the ministry affected his outlook, Gordon noted the core values of respect for others and for diversity, a belief in human dignity and potential. "That's all a core part of who I am, what I do and how I do it," he said.

Bipartisan in deed

And what has Gordon done? As a county supervisor, he said, he is most pleased with his work establishing the Housing Endowment and Regional Trust, a public/private partnership to create affordable housing.

And there's Mirada Surf, a 49-acre county park on a coastal bluff just north of Half Moon Bay. Developers owned it and could have built houses there, but would have faced lawsuits over the use of open space, Gordon said. The supervisors found land-trust funding that they matched with $3 million in county funds, money the county would have spent anyway as a party to the lawsuits, Gordon said.

In the Assembly, 70 percent of legislation he introduced became law, Gordon said, including bills that cap the cost of high-price drugs for people suffering from illnesses such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and AIDS. Legislation he wrote also increased the recycling of plastic bottles and created jobs in the state, he said.

Then there is his legacy of bipartisanship. Gordon had Assembly colleagues with (R) after their names who thought that government should not be helping but should be letting the private sector do the helping. Or the person could help himself via the proverbial bootstrap-pulling-up method. "Rarely did we vote alike," Gordon said, "but we liked each other."

Although Democrats were in the majority, Gordon worked assiduously to build bridges. Upon arriving in Sacramento for his first term, Gordon said, he paid a visit to the offices of the each of the other 79 Assembly members.

He went further. Married to a good cook, Gordon would invite three Democrats and three Republicans to dinner in Sacramento once a month. "I worked hard at trying to build relationships (and) build respect," he said. The dinners were great, he said, a chance to talk as human rather than political beings.

The Assembly has a ritual for saying goodbye: the "tribute," in which members stand on the Assembly floor and honor the person leaving their midst. Gordon's tribute lasted over an hour, he said, adding: "Lots of folks wanted to say 'Thank you.'"

"It was an incredible experience," he said of his six years there. "I do miss the work, but as every day goes by, I get further away from it, moving on to other things."

A Republican Assembly colleague told him he was going to pick up the bipartisan-dinner baton, Gordon said.

Comments

15 people like this
Posted by Down with 13
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 14, 2017 at 11:24 am

Prop 13 was written for and by business interests to keep THEIR property taxes low. It's hurting all of us by severely reducing market turnover rates in residential and commercial properties, thereby available restricting supply and inflating prices. And it's completely unfair for someone living in their house for 30 years to pay significantly less taxes than their just-moved-in neighbor! (After all, the 30-year residents are contributing LESS to the upkeep of their beloved community!)

The intention was good (keep people from being priced out of their homes), but this is not a normal area nor a normal real estate market. Prop 13 is hurting the bay area more than anywhere else in CA, where it's just a convenient tax dodge for the wealthy or businesses.


56 people like this
Posted by It's all about balance
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 14, 2017 at 11:54 am

We are also a young family and paying a ton in taxes for our house we recently purchased. However I'm ok doing that if I know in the future I will have some guarantee of not being kicked out of my home when I'm old and on a limited income. It's not really fair if I worked hard and spent 30 years paying off my mortgage to finally own a home that I would then be forced to move out in old age simply because I can't pay ridiculously high taxes (much higher than when we originally purchased) on the home. A home I supposedly own, mind you. It doesn't make sense.

The rise in property values (and thus property taxes) is more a function of demand for housing in this area than Prop 13. The rise in property values was happening in this area way before Prop 13 was in place, and Prop 13 was designed to keep elderly people in their homes, not allowing them to be kicked out, simply because the area around them was changing and they could not pay the *new* taxes. This intention of Prop 13 is fair and should be preserved.

More housing should (and is currently) being added so that more people have access to a home.

However, I completely agree with removing Prop 13 benefits from corporations and businesses. This is simply ridiculous and I have no idea how commercial properties were even included in the initial law. Over the years, businesses can and do raise prices which helps offset higher property taxes.

Retired individuals cannot experience a similar bump in income to keep up with raising property taxes, in fact their income usually goes down. This is a necessity and will happen eventually to all of us. To me the core of prop 13 is protecting the elderly and supporting multi-generational communities. Without Prop 13, this area would be all young people, and that's not good for anyone.


22 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 14, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Longtime homeowners shouldn't be forced from their homes due to skyrocketing tax bills. But neither should newcomers fund the lion's share of government services. How about applying the same tax rate to everyone, but allowing retirees to defer taxes beyond the Prop 13 amount until the property is sold or transferred?


8 people like this
Posted by Siler
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Mar 14, 2017 at 2:40 pm

I would definitely support Rich Gordon and do what I can to help! I support reforming Prop 13 and removing our pension time bomb in CA.


4 people like this
Posted by Means testing
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Mar 14, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Why wouldn't we reform it to be means tested? Doesn't make sense for a person making $5M/year to pay $2k in property taxes b/c he bought his $5M house in 1960 for $150k.

Would be way more efficient to provide direct subsidies to those who can't afford property taxes vs. penalizing all young families b/c they arrived too late to benefit.


30 people like this
Posted by David H.
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 14, 2017 at 2:55 pm

I do not mind Prop 13 for homeowners but take it from corporations. Homes eventually are sold. People qualify for their homes based on their income at that time. And that income stays steady. So I do not mind that neighbors pay a much lower tax than I and I pay a lower tax than other neighbors. People who buy a home for $1 million have higher incomes than a person who buys a home for $300,000.

Corporations, on the other hand, never die! There never will be a reassessment of their original value. (Homes are reassessed when there is a sale) Think of the Bank of America Tower in SF, or the Transamerica Pyramid -- no reassessment.

Keep Prop 13 for homes. But no Prop 13 for corporations.


8 people like this
Posted by ELIMINATE PROP58-PROP193
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2017 at 3:19 pm

Why not start by eliminating Props 58 and 193 which allow children and grandchildren to inherit property without reassessment (taking advantage of Prop 13). I rarely hear these propositions mentioned in Prop 13 discussions.

* Prop 58 excludes from reassessment transfers of real property between parents and children.

* Proposition 193 which excludes from reassessment transfers of real property from grandparents to grandchildren, providing that all the parents of the grandchildren who qualify as children of the grandparents are deceased as of the date of transfer.

These propositions allow the new property owners to avoid property tax increases when acquiring property from their parents or children or from their grandparents. The new owner's taxes are calculated on the established Proposition 13 factored base year value, instead of the current market value when the property is acquired. Web Link

Primary residences (with NO VALUE LIMIT) are excluded from reassessment and it gets better.....

Eligible children under Proposition 58 and grandchildren under Proposition 193.....A "child" for purposes of Proposition 58 includes:

Any child born of the parent(s).
Any stepchild while the relationship of stepparent and stepchild exists.
Any son-in-law or daughter-in-law of the parent(s).
Any adopted child who was adopted before the age of 18.
Spouses of eligible children are also eligible until divorce or, if terminated by death, until the remarriage of the surviving spouse, stepparent, or parent-in-law.


156 people like this
Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 14, 2017 at 3:31 pm

Great, another career politician hitting a term limit and not getting a real job.

Career politicians are part of the problem.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 14, 2017 at 5:49 pm

The other 49 states do fine without proposition 13, and some of them have the same kind of rapidly growing real estate prices like we do. One way to do this, for example, is to charge some standard interest rate for every property based on value. Then, charge less if you live in the house. Then, charge even less if you're a senior, disabled, low-income, or some other person who needs extra help. I've lived in two states who did it this way, and it worked fine. People who live in their homes pay less, while investors and businesses pay the full rate. Private individuals who own multiple homes only pay the lower rate on the one which they occupy.


99 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 14, 2017 at 8:19 pm

It is outrageous to expect long-time residents to suffer due to the taxes imposed by the Democrats who have a stranglehold on this state. They hike taxes to redistribute money to those who have not sacrificed to own their own homes and businesses, then blame those have sacrificed for being "selfish" and "greedy" because they don't want the things they worked hard to earn taken from them and given to those didn't earn them, all in the name of "fairness".

It is about time that people like Rich Gordon learn that "fairness" isn't about everyone having the same thing. Fairness is about people being allowed the opportunity to earn what they choose to own without the threat of some politician trying to figure out a way to steal from them in order to give charity that they should provide with their OWN money.

Their wouldn't be a single family farm in this state is not for Prop 13. NOT ONE! Th same can be said of MANY small family businesses that own any sort of property. That said, the big businesses that have been here for long period have employed people and provided salaries to MANY and those people all pay taxes.

The problem isn't that there aren't enough people being taxed enough. The problem is that there are too many politicians that can't understand the concept of a budget. It would go a long way if they could figure out how to stop spending money as if there is an endless supply. Maybe spending money on a proper spillway for the Oroville Dam is more important than High Speed Rail that few want and even fewer will use.

Rich Gordon should focus his energy is figuring out ho to stop spending money, rather than trying to find more ways to reach into the pockets of taxpayers.


11 people like this
Posted by Fair Share
a resident of Castro City
on Mar 14, 2017 at 8:54 pm

People seem to get really worked up when people start discussing taking away their subsidies. It's time property owners here started paying their fair share. I'm tired of giving massive tax breaks to people with million-dollar-plus houses. Enough!


9 people like this
Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 14, 2017 at 9:12 pm

I agree with Rich Gordon that Prop 13 needs revision and I also would like to EliminateProp58-Prop193. Like Down with 13, I believe Prop 13 was written by business owners looking out for their own interests; the fact that Prop 13 helps keep senior citizens in the same home they have owned for 30-40 years was a very secondary consideration, not the main reason as implied by It's all about balance.

Resident has the right idea: We should look for ways to minimize the burden of property taxes for those few who need it, not for those who don't. The homeowner exemption in effect today is the same value it was 40 years ago, to the best of my recollection, $7000--too small to have a noticeable effect on today's property taxes. (At the 1% "limit" built into Prop 13, the tax cut would be only $75. Just raising the homeowner exemption to, say 10% of the assessed value, would be a big help. And I agree with David H that business properties don't deserve Prop 13 at all.

Everyone needs to remember that Prop 13 was passed in a time of raging inflation for everything, not just house prices. And, in case anyone is not aware: The main reason for property values going up like a rocket in recent years is that the value of the land is going up much faster than the value of the homes sitting on the land.


76 people like this
Posted by ChangeCalifornia
a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 14, 2017 at 9:14 pm

This is going to be the end of Democrats in CA. Too much spending, too much generous pensions that the rest of silicon valley can only dream of, too many long-time multiple homes homeowners who paid tiny monthly mortgages and getting IPOs off each home they sell... One day, it'll be a revolt and they'll wonder what happened. Just like what happened when Trump got elected.

People get sick and tired of this unfairness.

Why the hell is 101 so jammed everyday in Willow Road and Palo Alto exits but nobody in government gives a crap or does anything about it? The bay area probably pays the majority of taxes to the State and yet gets nothing in return. The infrastructure around here sucks. Every road, freeway, we have has been done many many years ago and all CalTrans does these days is these useless lousy projects that's just fattening the pockets of CalTran workers.

We need a change in Sacramento and need it fast if we are to save this state.


13 people like this
Posted by Get rid of property taxes
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 14, 2017 at 9:14 pm

Best solution would be to get rid of property taxes once and for all. The govt rakes in far too much money as it is already.


7 people like this
Posted by Fair Share
a resident of Castro City
on Mar 14, 2017 at 10:04 pm

Amazing! We're already underfunding our schools (almost dead last in per pupil spending) due to the disastrous policy that is Prop 13. But, no, that's not enough for Monta Loma! Let's cut it to the bone and completely starve our schools so that people in multimillion dollar houses can save even more on taxes.


5 people like this
Posted by Underwhat?
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 14, 2017 at 10:32 pm

We are not underfunding our schools. Our schools are among the highest recipients of funding and yet they are starting to slide in their results. Our schools are not starving....certainly not all the administrative layers sucking the $ from the recipients.

Fair Share, you sound like you're worried about other people's payments and responsibilities. what exactly are YOU paying in taxes? How much are YOU contributing? Easy to point fingers and say others should pay more, always easy to spend other people's money.

I agree with "Get Rid Of Property Taxes". We need a flat tax. Period. You get taxed based on usage. So the single retired homeowner who uses few services gets taxed less than the family with 4 kids who use the schools, libraries, who drives several cars on the roads schlepping kids to sports and activities.


7 people like this
Posted by Fair Share
a resident of Castro City
on Mar 14, 2017 at 11:08 pm

The facts are simple, California is almost dead last in per pupil spending in the nation. I'd consider that underfunded, but maybe you ahve a different definition?

It's amazing, and somewhat sad, how people like mvresident so desperately want to save money on their taxes that they don't care about their communities at all.


3 people like this
Posted by Underwhat?
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 14, 2017 at 11:48 pm

who is mvresident?

And I'm truly interested in what you think about a flat tax. Care to share?


8 people like this
Posted by Fair Share
a resident of Castro City
on Mar 15, 2017 at 12:02 am

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


Lowering tax revenues will exacerbate an already bad problem that you've tacitly acknowledged, that we spend criminally little per pupil here. I'd prefer if homeowners finally started paying their fair share and stopped freeloading off the rest of us.


3 people like this
Posted by IVG
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 15, 2017 at 7:58 am

Rich Gordon sounds like a nice guy, but this article sounds like a laudatory puff piece.


3 people like this
Posted by Prop13 supporter
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 15, 2017 at 10:56 am

Its amazing how ignorant some people are wrt to Prop 13. First of, the prop 13 re-evaluation after a home sale is fair since those long term residents can lock in their tax liabilities. The same practice is employed by several types of business's that reward long term buyers. Long term renters generally pay less then ST renter. Club memberships are lower for LT members since they lock them in when they purchase their membership. There are plenty of exmaples in the private sector.

Second, as other have noted, parents can pass on their tax base to children and grandchildren through inheritance. (note: they can also pass on the capital gains and avoid CG taxes). getting rid of these exemption would increase the chance of parents downsizing after they become empty nesters

Third, the same mechanism that applies to business owners that allows them to avoid property re-assessment when they sell their business and property can be utilized by homeowners. For example the multiple owner clause could be applied or putting the home in a corporation.

Most of the complaints come from people that want to increase taxes so they can increase the size of government and support their special interest groups.


8 people like this
Posted by Underwhat?
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 15, 2017 at 11:07 am

Sounds like mvresident hit a nerve.

Anyway, please explain how my paying property tax (as well as income tax and sales tax and tax tax tax), how does my paying property tax equate into freeloading off of you? You who pay no property tax and who is being subsidized through rent control.

paying property tax = freeloading

Classic.


16 people like this
Posted by Fair Share
a resident of Castro City
on Mar 15, 2017 at 11:21 am

@Underwhat?

Not really, mvresident was mostly a fun curiosity. They couldn't really take the heat and had poorly formed arguments, so just ended up leaving in a huff.

When someone is paying 1/10 the property tax that their neighbor is paying for an identical lot, they're clearly not paying their fair share. The only reason people argue otherwise is that that amount of savings can buy a huge amount of willful ignorance.


4 people like this
Posted by Underwhat?
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 15, 2017 at 11:26 am

How is this freeloading off of YOU? You aren't a homeowner, you pay no property tax but you feel you should dictate to homeowners what they can and cannot have.

Come to think of it, you sound rather like Randy Geulph, another poster who felt he could dictate what property owners can and cannot have. Talk about people getting angry about their subsidies! Whew!


16 people like this
Posted by Fair Share
a resident of Castro City
on Mar 15, 2017 at 11:31 am

What makes you think I'm not a homeowner? Not all homeowners support Prop 13.

I know it's probably pretty shocking, but some people value principles and their community's well-being over their own bottom line.


9 people like this
Posted by It's all about balance
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 15, 2017 at 12:09 pm

It is true it is very difficult to justify removing Prop 13 when it's very existence was one of main arguments used to pass rent control in Mountain View. Now that renters are guaranteed minimal rent increases, it doesn't make sense to remove that benefit from homeowners. I even find it hard to justify charging landlords more property taxes unless rent control restrictions are removed and renters forced to share in the burden of increased taxes that you insist are critical to our community. Renters use all city resources just like homeowners do.


10 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2017 at 12:56 pm

Prop 13 shields homeowners from any negative impacts incurred from rising housing costs, to the point that they're incentivized to block new housing supply and reduce competition, further increasing their property values. Renters and future property owners then pay higher rents and property ownership becomes further out of reach. Prop 13 needs to be repealed so homeowners feel the negative impacts of increased housing costs just like everyone else and become incentivized to support growth policies that will stabilize their property values.


7 people like this
Posted by Prop13 supporter
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 15, 2017 at 2:24 pm

@YIMBY. Actually its just the opposite. Prop 13 homeowners who want public services to grow will support policies that encourage economic growth since thats the only way for city tax revenues to grow faster than the 2% that current homeowners receive each year. The problem is that bureaucrats waste public funding and that's why their always complaining about not having enough money to spend on their special interest groups.


12 people like this
Posted by Fair Share
a resident of Castro City
on Mar 15, 2017 at 2:35 pm

@Prop13 Supporter,

The first half of your post describes exactly what's happened, and it leads to a massive jobs/housing imbalance, which prices out everyone except the wealthy. NIMBY Prop 13 supporters further constrain the supply of housing in order to guarantee themselves a windfall when they finally cash in. All the while, they pay far less than their fair share. We need to stop this massive giveaway to millionaires!


2 people like this
Posted by test
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 16, 2017 at 9:55 pm

a lot of cities passed rental control, and now prop 13 is going to be removed. landlords can expect negative cash flow pretty soon.


8 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 16, 2017 at 10:06 pm

@Fair Share

You really just don't get it, do you?

The people that benefit from Prop 13 are NOT millionaires. They are long-time members of the community that have stayed for a LONG time in their homes. They are older people who don't have 30 or 40 thousand dollars a year to pay property taxes. Most of them didn't pay that much to buy the house in the first place. They have built the community that you feel free to take advantage of and change to suit your whims, but only until you can cash in on your stock options and leave a mess behind for them to clean up. How dare you claim they haven't paid their "fair share"?

If you are looking for selfish and greedy, I suggest you start by looking in your bathroom mirror.


2 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2017 at 10:21 pm

@Prop 13 Supporter

That's such a contrived scenario. The average person isn't going to think 3 steps removed like that. They're going to do what's immediately best for them personally, and that means raising the value of their assets and freezing their surroundings so it never changes beyond what they want (including preserving their "mountain views" lest an apartment complex spoils it). Economic growth could just as well mean new business, not new housing. The only way for new housing to really become a priority for homeowners again is to stop shielding property owners specifically from the negative effects of rising property values and incentive them to want to stabilize them, which means more housing supply to spread out the demand. It can't just be renters and prospective owners taking all of the losses while fighting against home owners to build more apartments and condos.


4 people like this
Posted by Fair Share
a resident of Castro City
on Mar 16, 2017 at 10:40 pm

@psr,

How is someone who owns a million-plus-dollar house not a millionaire?


6 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2017 at 10:43 pm

@Psr

I was born and raised here and plan to stay here as long as I can. I don't care how long you've been here. The generation before you paved over the orchards and farmland that used to be all around here so that you could have a home, and built highways so you'd be able to easily get around. When your turn came up to help out the next generation by building housing and funding new infrastructure so they'd have a place to live, you pulled the ladder up instead. We're in this mess because of the Greediest Generation hoarding all the gains for them and externalizing all the losses onto others. Now we get to take "advantage" of $1500 spare bedrooms and $2000 a month studios.

You failed in your responsibility demonstrated to you by the generation that set you up. You failed to heed their example and pay it forward for the next. But you can be sure that our generation will learn from your failings and not make the same mistake. I will not burden the generation after me to compete​ over constrained housing supplies just because I don't want my view spoiled by a building. I will not burden the next generation to a tax cut that strips their schools of funding and shifts the tax burden onto the next generation of home owners. I will not try to put a crimp in a job market providing high paying jobs to the next generation just because I don't like the traffic it causes. I will grow my city and it's infrastructure for them and instill in them the virtue of paying it forward in the hope that what you're perpetuating now doesn't repeat with them.


7 people like this
Posted by Horchata
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 17, 2017 at 1:43 am

Prop 13 is so fair. It indexes taxes to a normal inflation rate. Communities rise and fall based on the population (people not committing crimes, investing in schools (parents who actually take the value of education seriously), values, etc. Sorry but it's a fact of life that some do better than others. Consequently, often times home value will follow these metrics (good schools which can only be the product of hard work), good safety ratings, etc. It seems so ridiculous to penalize that. In our age of inequality quality of community is one of the few things that we all have the agency to improve and profit from. The last thing you want is a tax that removes the incentive to invest in your community. Or in the case of a family member of mine who has lived in Santa Monica North of Montana since the 60s. Only pays 1k/yr in taxes I think. Why should they have to pay more taxes because a bunch of moneyed people want to live there? She's not rich. And did not have a part in making Compton undesirable amidst the myriad socioeconomic struggles that have defined America. People upset about Prop 13 (and people who like to view class, race, etc. in macro terms) completely ignore individuals.

This family member is a retired teacher who just lives in a house in an area that happens to be "attractive". Not everyone there is a venture capitalist technocratic type.

Longtime residents have the right to stable housing costs. Why would we want to turn our property taxes into variable rate mortgages?

Reading these comments it seems "tech types" are over-encephalized around this issue. Life happens over decades, not the next product cycle. Let people who want to stay in the same place for life get stable property taxes. 2% is great.


3 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2017 at 2:23 am

Prop 13 isn't fair at all. It's completely screwed over the millennial generation.
Web Link


8 people like this
Posted by Under what?
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 17, 2017 at 11:01 am

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


5 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2017 at 12:27 pm

It's interesting how whenever any issue if unbalance, inequality, or one group of people getting a raw deal comes up, the other side retreats to claims of jealousy. No, I'm not jealous that homeowners have blocked high-density development for years. I'm not jealous that we have a tax system that incentivizes and rewards this behavior while saddling renters with the resulting costs. No, what you see as jealousy is actually anger.


7 people like this
Posted by Underwhàt?
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 17, 2017 at 1:17 pm

I say this with all sincerity and frankly, concern. It must be awful living with such anger, feeling like you should have something you want so badly yet not being able to afford it. A WHOLE lot of things must be very frustrating.

When I moved to the Bay Area I was astonished at the prices. I was shocked how expensive everything was and thought I'd never be able to afford to buy a house. I livee in Santa Clara, i had roommates, I scrimped and saved, didn't take vacations, drove a 10-yr old car, etc etc etc.

But I NEVER, not one single time, did I think they need to build more or reduce taxes or change just so that I could have what I wanted. It never entered my mind that things needed to change for ME, rather it was all what could I do for MYSELF. I by far would have preferred to live in Los Altos. I quite simply could not (and still cannot) afford it. If I hadn't managed to buy something here I would have looked at sunnyvale, or Santa Clara or on and on until I found something that I could afford.

And guess what? It's getting too expensive here now, I need to get my kids thru school so what am I doing? I'm looking to move out of stAte, somewhere with a much lower cost of living, so that I can be sure to cover my costs for retirement as well. I hate it, it's killing me, I LOVE it here but I also know that I just cannot afford to stay, breaks my heart.

So sorry if I have no bleeding heart for you. I don't. Not one single ounce.


9 people like this
Posted by Fair Share
a resident of Castro City
on Mar 17, 2017 at 1:39 pm

@Underwhat?

Now, we can all see where your lack of empathy comes from. You see no benefit in improving things for anyone but yourself. You've got your multimillion dollar house, so why should you care about anyone else?

Fortunately, the rest of the people here in this great city actually care about those who live and work here. We see the value in planting trees under whose shade we'll never sit.

You have no connection to your community ("by far would have preferred to live in Los Altos"). Thankfully, the more that people who have your attitude leave, the better off we'll be, since we'll have people who have traditional values and care for their neighbors.

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


2 people like this
Posted by vonlost
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 17, 2017 at 2:51 pm

I'd like to see property tax (and sales tax--both are regressive) eliminated and shifted to progressive income tax. It will never happen, resulting in unemployed bureaucrats. I'd expect my overall tax to rise, as it should (high earners get too many breaks).


4 people like this
Posted by prop13tweaking
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Multi family housing owners are covered under Prop 13 too. Should multi family housing be valued at market value, I can't even imagine what rents will be. Of course, single family home values will decrease, but multi family rents will sky rocket or the property sold. It's inevitable.


3 people like this
Posted by Prop 13 supporter
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 17, 2017 at 4:42 pm

It's still amazing to hear all of the silly arguments about fairness. Private industry is full of examples of charging lower prices to people who guarantee long term commitments versus those who only offer short term commitments. If you're willing to lock in a long term commitment, your only willing to do so with a certain price stream. Otherwise , why make a long term commitment. Those with more tenure should be able to lock in long term tax rates.

And as I said above, all of the strategies employed by business owners to avoid reassessment are available to homeowners.


8 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 17, 2017 at 7:44 pm

@YIMBY

You can pack up the virtue shaming because it doesn't work on me. Your version of "virtue" requires that people who have realized the American Dream to hand over their hard-earned situation in life to some newby who has not paid their dues nor earned their way. That doesn't fly with me or others with a sense of REAL fairness.

As for my generation paving anything, you are full of baloney. My parents and grandparents were here long before you. Not paying it forward? What nonsense! You think there is virtue in paving over the best farmland in the country because you like the weather here? You think there is virtue in cutting down trees and building high rise buildings because more people want to move here, yet have the nerve to complain about pollution and global warming? You think there is virtue in packing people in beyond the ability of the land to sustain them?

You need to check your definition of virtue, because it fails the smell test.


8 people like this
Posted by @psr
a resident of Bailey Park
on Mar 17, 2017 at 7:47 pm

What the heck is "virtue shaming"?

I don't think I've ever heard someone use virtue as a pejorative before...


10 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 17, 2017 at 7:51 pm

@ "Fair Share"

How is a person with a million dollar house not a millionaire? Because the only thing they have is their house. They don't stocks and techy incomes to support them because they are retired and live on a fixed income. If you bought your home here in the 1950s or 60s, it is doubtful that you have a retirement income that supplies you with $40k each year to pay extortion to a government that can't spend money wisely. That's how.

You try to shame others because they lack empathy, but you lack both empathy and common sense if you missed this.


14 people like this
Posted by Fair Share
a resident of Castro City
on Mar 17, 2017 at 7:54 pm

"All this person has is this thing worth more than a million dollars. They are not a millionaire" - @psr


9 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 17, 2017 at 7:57 pm

@@psr

Virtue shaming is when people try to make their policy positions stronger by claiming that their opposition is "greedy" or "selfish" for having the views they have. They claim that their position is more virtuous because they are showing more "empathy" or "fairness" then their opponents.

It is a flawed method because rational people rely on facts to back their positions, not emotions.


8 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 17, 2017 at 8:00 pm

@ "Fair Share"

So attacking senior citizens is noble now? Apparently they should have to leave their homes, friends, communities and families in their golden years for the good of the state in your world view.

Sorry, but I'll stick to actual fairness. Your version defies logic and reason, as well as the empathy you claim to have.


10 people like this
Posted by @psr
a resident of Bailey Park
on Mar 17, 2017 at 8:09 pm

As your last post and your post attacking @YIMBY show, you're the only person here arguing by emotion.

For example, @Fair Share pointed out quite clearly that these people are millionaires, but you shifted in your latest comment to some weird attack on their nobility?

Physician, heal thyself.


11 people like this
Posted by Silly Cone Wally
a resident of another community
on Mar 17, 2017 at 8:30 pm

Vonlost has the right idea - eliminate property taxes altogether and just impose fees for water, street repair, etc. Most countries in Europe that I know of collect taxes through the central govt. and towns get per person grants from the central govt. That way Richville doesn't pay higher salaries for teachers than Poortown.

This has transformed to a debate about the cost of housing. A friend pointed out a good post explaining housing costs here:
Web Link

This area has been expensive for at least 50 years. I don't know why people move here and expect that they will be able to pay the same as for a house in Keokuk, Iowa. No one forced anyone to come here so if you can't pay the price, move to Portland (or some place) like some friends of mine. They have a lovely house (much nicer than they could get here) and are very happy.

I can't afford to live on the Champs Elysee in Paris but that doesn't constitute a "housing crisis" in France.


11 people like this
Posted by mln
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 17, 2017 at 10:08 pm

I want to ring in as someone who has benefited from the original intent of the law. As a long-time disabled senior, whose income has dropped 70-80%, I would have lost my home long ago without prop 13. As it is, my prop tax has almost doubled over the last 20 years - the annual 2% increases plus the litany of add-ons (over a dozen on my bill) really add up. Some of those criticizing prop 13 may not realize these increases occur, or the extent of them. At this point, after cutting all other expenses to the bone, my prop tax is my number one expense, basically 25% of my income.

I agree with whoever said a million dollar house does not make you a millionaire. It may in a technical sense but not in a practical one. Like some money man said a long time ago, "a house is not an investment because you can't sell off a bedroom when you need money." The only way to benefit is to sell and leave the area, plus be willing to pay the huge capital gains, and then face increased prop tax depending on your next move - a triple whammy in my book.


8 people like this
Posted by Defer
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 17, 2017 at 10:18 pm

Tax deferments can keep fixed-income seniors from getting booted from their homes without the shotgun approach Proposition 13 took.


11 people like this
Posted by Fair Share
a resident of Castro City
on Mar 17, 2017 at 10:28 pm

@mln,

The way this is solved in many other states is that property taxes are deferred until the house is sold when there's hardship (e.g. the elderly, the poor, the disabled). This would still allow us to protect vulnerable members of our society whole avoiding many of the negative side effects of Prop 13.

Capital gains on the sale of your home is the difference between your purchase price with an exemption of $250K for single person or $500K for a couple. So even if you're walking away with a million dollars in proceeds, you'll still have about $800K to $900K left over to spend however you want. That's far more in assets than the vast majority of Americans of retirement age.


11 people like this
Posted by Darin
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 18, 2017 at 9:10 am

I guess Gordon had nothing to say about Prop. 13 when in the State Assembly - even though the State Legislature that can and does propose state constitutional amendments for the ballot.

Only now in announcing the next public position (and pension) he wants does Gordon say we should look into how the property tax system might be made more fair and made to provide more money for his wish list of programs. He offers no specifics, of course.

A true politician.


7 people like this
Posted by Horchata
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 18, 2017 at 12:19 pm

@ YIMBY Very short-sighted thinking. While the "millennial" (my) generation seems to be coming of age at a time when everyone and their mom seems to be wanting to move to California (it actually seems to be both emigration of people sick of this state and immigration of Chinese people who abhor lung cancer) the same prop 13 protections would apply if we could actually afford to live here. My generation's success has nothing to do with state tax revenues. I don't really want to purchase property here because I don't really want to own a liability. You have LA congressmen wanting universal healthcare in California only (for illegals too). That is a fiscal embarrassment.

GOP-led states have much better credit ratings. I think the regionalization of financial risk is borderline immoral. Just because you don't have your way on a national level, don't ruin it for everyone else in your state.

My family member...owns a house. In an area that happens to be poppin'. Your average poor retiree in Compton...owns a house. In a crappy area. Their homes could be the same square footage and have an order of magnitude of difference in worth. Maybe people in Compton should work on their values and prevent all the muggings and stabbings instead of demanding "millionaires" pay up (truly wealthy people are not tied to any location and if taxes get too high can escape just fine). People on teachers' pensions who happen to live in nice areas cannot.

Also, Slate is a terrible left-wing publication. The fact that they consider it respectable to attack a conservative law that indexes taxes to inflation is sad.


1 person likes this
Posted by TooFuny
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 18, 2017 at 2:38 pm


all in..
Prop 13 gets reformed for homeowners and apartment owners. Government get more money. Single family homes dip in price, apartment rents go through the roof.
Sound like a well thought plan to bring stability to housing.


1 person likes this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2017 at 2:47 pm

What mechanism would cause both single-family homes to dip in price AND rents to increase?


1 person likes this
Posted by Prop13stuff
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2017 at 3:37 pm

Property taxes go up (Prop 13 re-do for you), home values go down. Pretty simple math. Mortgage and property tax rate combined, and all the little extra bond fees shoved on homeowners pay for good schools for their children. Renters and homeowners can only afford so much top line cost. We agree.

Surprise, Prop 13 redo applies to multi family housing too. Increased costs are passed on to renters. Or, the landlord could sell the property and the elected officials get more taxes (capital gains tax) and renters are evicted and not covered by rent control, Costa Hawkins.


5 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2017 at 3:52 pm

Rents will only go up as far as people are willing to pay. Property taxes have no such ceiling. Increased development post-repeal would bring new units onto the market, drive property costs down, and property values would stabilize.


4 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 18, 2017 at 6:40 pm

@psr

What utter nonsense!

If you think defending people who earn the money to buy their homes while they were inexpensive, stayed in them to grow a community and then need help to stay in them because people like YIMBY (and you) want to raise their taxes to levels they can't afford just so other people can move to the community they built is an emotion-based argument, so be it. However, don't act as though your desire to throw these people out of their homes to benefit others isn't based on your warped vision of fairness, then you'd best think again.

BTW, don't ever try to defend Obamacare with the foolish statement that conservatives want old people to die. It is clear that you want them to live, but you want them to live in the streets or geriatric ghettos that they can afford after you drive them from their homes with taxes. NOBODY should have to move from the home they love because the government want to tax them more than they can afford. That was the point of Prop 13 in the first place.


5 people like this
Posted by @psr
a resident of Bailey Park
on Mar 18, 2017 at 7:31 pm

I've got no dog in this fight, but you're not doing yourself any favors here. Don't go around calling people out on emotional arguments when you're not capable of having a reasonable, rational discussion.

Seriously, you're melting down in this comments section without ever addressing any factual points raised by @YIMBY or anyone else. No one has even said a thing about Obamacare and now you're ranting about that.


8 people like this
Posted by Silly Cone Wally
a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2017 at 8:11 pm

@YIMBY

Building higher density raises rents and home prices because the value of land is determined by the rents you get from it. Double the number of apts. per acre and you double the cost of the land and make any more land even more expensive to develop because there is less available. Also, it costs more to build higher apts. A good web site that explains this is here:
Web Link

If higher density made for lower rents, Manhattan and Hong Kong would be the cheapest places on the planet.


4 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2017 at 2:35 am

Are we posting random geocities-equivalent websites now as evidence? The fact is the cost of the property is spread out over the number of units you build. The cost to the occupants of a low-density unit on a high-value plot of land is going to be more than the cost to an occupant of a portion of a high-density unit because the cost is spread out to everyone.

Hong Kong and NYC are not cheap to live in, but do you know which place they're both cheaper than? San Francisco.


9 people like this
Posted by vonlost
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 19, 2017 at 8:05 am

So if you want to get rich, build high density housing in Elko, NV, so that rents will go up? You mean it wouldn't work because no one wants to live there? Maybe rents go up when demand for housing rises, you think?


6 people like this
Posted by Prop13stuff
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2017 at 10:26 am

.."when you are too smart to run for politics, you are destined to be governed by those less smart"

Prop 13 benefits landlords and renters too. Imagine when landlords have to pass their increased property taxes on to those who can least afford it.






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