Prop 13

Alyssa Sittig's picture

I am in huge support of closing the loophole in Prop 13 and making our state tax system run more efficiently. I can't believe it's taken this long, despite a budget that is harder to pass each year, to fix this loophole and start generating revenue for absolutely necessary public services like funding schools, protecting our environment and supporting our healthcare system.   What does everyone else feel about this? Is it time we close this loophole?

km123's picture

Close the Loophole

There are a lot of coaltions out there fighting to reform Prop 13, yet it seems that people are just talking about it. It's great to start the conversation by introducing important issues, but it's time for action.

There's this great grassroots organization called Close the Loophole. I'm a fan of them on Facebook:                            So far they have over 6,000 supporters on FB. If you want to learn more, check out their website at I think they're starting to mobilize in the Bay Area.

They claim that by creating a split-roll property tax to include corporations, like Disney and big-name hotels - just to name a few, then California can raise $7.5 billion in additional revenue. Doesn't this seem like the right solution to save our failing schools and to invest in the future of our state?

nblackburn's picture

I agree. Prop 13 is simply a

I agree. Prop 13 is simply a bad idea. It was in 1978 and it is today. It is the vestige of ultraconservative economic policy, and has no place in today's society. Warren Buffet, one of the world's most successful investors and an economic genius, suggested that Arnold Schwarzenegger repeal or change Prop 13, but his advice fell on deaf ears.

nblackburn's picture

Close the Loophole Twitter

Don't forget about close the loophole's twitter!

NKlein82's picture

Locals v. State

The problem with Prop. 13 is not just that it has hurt the legislature by making it harder to pass a budget nor that it has reduced the amount of property tax revenue for local governments.  The problem is that in reducing the amount of property tax revenue, Prop. 13 has made local governments dependent on the state for various operating expenses.  The split roll that Close the Loophole is advocating is a great way to reduce the negative effects of Prop. 13 and hopefully allow local governments greater autonomy from the state.  We need to do something to allow for more autonomy for local governments or else there will continue to budget balancing issues.

Francisco's picture

We should all pay our fair share

I have no problem paying taxes - I just want to pay my fair share. I moved to San Francisco 6 years ago and bought a really tiny house. It took all the money my partner and I had. But I bet we pay more in property taxes than the Getty's or some of their neighbors who have owned their homes for decades. That is really messed up. We need to find some way to undo this - starting with corporations is good, but ultimately it's going to have to go farther.

Time to Close the Loophole

It's unacceptable that California ranks 47th in the nation in per pupil education spending. How can we realistically expect to remain competitive if we aren't investing in education

Since 1978, when Prop 13 passed, our schools have seen a steady decline in funding in large part due to massive commercial property tax loopholes. Was that the original intent of Prop 13Were the writers of Prop 13 so cynical that they intentionally crafted the measure to allow corporations to skirt the rules and avoid ever having their property reassessed to fair market values?

We can be proud of many things in California. Our tax system is not one of them. There's nothing more embarrassing or discouraging than tax loopholes that subsidize corporations and cost our state billions of dollars in revenue – revenue that could certainly be dedicated toward better educating the next generation of California leaders.

Close the Loophole!

Close the Loophole on ActBlue, Youtube

You can also find Close the Loophole on ActBlue and on Youtube!

johnalden's picture

Prop. 13 Reform

I'm so glad you're working on this, Phil!  It is shocking to me that some of the biggest commercial property owners are paying basically the same taxes now that they were back in 1978.  It's been a terrible blow to schools, in particular.  Thanks for making this an issue!

oldaddy's picture

Prop. 13 as voted in at about 1978?

Frankly, Proposition 13 is the best thing that happened over the past 30 or so years. Before that, if any homes in the City and County of San Francisco were sold and purchased; the surrounding homes would face a stiff property tax increase. Yes. This is a fact as I am a fourth generation San Franciscan. The City and County Assessor was considered as a fearful Agency as well as an aggressive Tax Collector to any Home Owner or Commercial Building Owner - or Commercial Business Renter, for that matter. Proposition 13 was initially brought about because the Cities, Counties as well as the State of California depended heavily on Property Tax as their largest source of income. In other words, the Cities, Counties and the State depended heavily on the Private Property Owner. So the Home and Commercial Property Owner in fact provided all municipalities with most income. In fact the Home and Commercial Property Owner probably would have been squeezed out of existence if it was not for Proposition 13. I think historically the need as well as the temptation for governments throughout the world is to squeeze the Property Owner due to their property exposure as it is a major source of City, County and State Income. Lastly, Proposition 13 automatically limits any random of aggressive desire for our elected officials not to go too far when it comes to their expensive needs.

oldaddy's picture

Proposition 13

Upon reviewing some of the comments, I get the feeling that most are for the elimination or perhaps at least the nibbling away of Proposition 13. Thinking further, perhaps the majority are City and County Employees who would like to have higher salaries, pensions and retirement benefits at the expense of the Private Sector. No?

Not so simple

oldaddy, I can tell you from first-hand experience that the people who are most excited about Prop.13 reform are not city employees. I understand where you're coming from, after all, who wouldn't opt to make their job more secure given the chance. But the people who are truly invested in this effort are the parents of kids in k-12 public schools. For instance: Parents for Public Schools, Educacy, Oakland Single Parents Network, Educate our State, and Children Now.

It would be wonderfully simple if the problem with California was a matter of greed and overspending. But that fact is that our educational system is shamefully under funded and there is a traceable decline in the quality of education here in our state that has its roots in 1978. California now ranks near the bottom in terms of dollars spent per pupil. Given that, it's no surprise that California has one of the highest student to teacher ratios.

As far as the private sector goes, I'll let the CEO of Symantec make that argument for me:

Lucy in the sky's picture

I agree Prop 13 must go

I think old daddy does not understand how awfully undercut education has become.  And to Matthew I couldn't agree more we must work to change our education system.  The value received will not be for state or county employees but for a brighter future for our children. 

1978 was a year that saw Prop 13 come to pass but it was also a year in which so much was cut for education.  Think of the future oldaddy.

DonRoss's picture

Commercial Buildings vs Homeowners

Remember, Close the Loophole and revisiting Prop 13 is about making commercial property owners pay a fairer share. Currently private property owners pay a larger share than commercial property owners. It is time to bring more balance back to this equation.

Making commercial property owners pay more than private property (home owners) would seem to be in line with what you are arguing OldDaddy?

oldaddy's picture

With Prop 13, everybody pays their fair share..

"Lucy in the Sky". Thank you for your response. One of the main reasons why Proposition 13 was initiated was because the Home and Commercial Property Owners were carrying the financial load for most of the State and expenses and  Counties. With the initiation of Proposition 13, these expenses, social service programs as well as Public Education are merely redistributed among all Citizens. The end result? Any and all misc. expenses,social service programs, Public Education are to be paid by all. Other debts, expenses in reference to State, County Infrastructure has slowly been resolved by way of the introduction of State General Obligation Bonds, Municipal Bonds as well as short term notes. I would say that both the repair as well as the building of School/Public Buildings has again been resolved through the sale to the Public of City as well as County Interest Bearing Bonds and Notes.

oldaddy's picture

To all new Property Owners...

Prior to the introduction of Condominiums and then T.I.C.'s in the US after 1945, the Public Owned  their homes, Commercial Building Owners owned their Buildings. However, the vast majority of the Public in fact were renters. However, after 1945-6, there was this idea of owning a portion of a Building. This flexible idea of owning One's turf came to the United States from Europe. Purchasing  Flats or Apartments within a demised building is fortunately becoming more and more common. So the Renter no longer has to virtually pay the Owner of a Building for the monthly use of space. Again, the Condo Owner has the same requirements and advantages of any Property Owner. Personally, I rented for many years. Now that I am much older I own my own space and I have a Mortgage, I pay the required taxes but I have the freedom and luxury of owning. I can either sell or pass my Home to my heirs. I think the City should encourage Property Ownership among all who rent. Perhaps the City and County could even build Condos on Public/City Land and sell to Renters.

John Popescu's picture

Proposition 13

Ever since the voters of the state of CA  passed The Jarvis/Gann Initiative of 1978 (Proposition 13) our local and state politicians have tried to dismantle it for any number of reasons: 

It would make the whole budgeting process at the state and local level much easier to just pass on any budget shortfall to the homeowners in the form of increased property or other taxes.  Think you taxes are high now ?  Imagine what would happen sans prop 13. 

And enacting new taxes:  I am all for a two thirds majority of voter approval  required for any new bond indebtness or the enactment of new taxes.  Again: Can you imagine our politicans going on a tax-and-spend binge with YOUR money ?

I think people really need to sit down, take a deep breath, and think about what they are relinquishing to our politicans in dismantling or "reforming" proposition 13.  I daresay the City of San Francisco  and even the State of California would turn into a playground for the ultra wealthy and utter hell for working people and worse for the elderly or retired.  That is if any were left from the fallout.



Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137