We still love Prop. 13: Field Poll

September 23, 2011

Californians still love their 33-year-old Prop. 13, the property tax reduction amendment, according to the results of the latest field poll released today.

By more than two to one, voters told pollsters that they would vote to endorse the measure again today if the measure was put before them. The same number would jettison any proposal aimed at amending Prop. 13.

The Field Poll sampled 1,001 registered voters in both English and Spanish.

Over the years, public officials have found themselves bogged down in searches for more revenues in the aftermath of passage of the popular amendment, and have since its passage in 1978 tried to find ways to weaken, circumvent, or simply ignore the law. Few have succeeded.

Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann authored Prop. 13 in an environment where property taxes were being hiked regularly by politicians and bureaucrats, and many homeowners believed their domiciles were threatened. Overwhelming support from seniors has helped the amendment retain its luster, as it prevents property tax increases from being assessed without a vote of those affected. It also allowed seniors to avoid increases as long as they remained in their homes.

Over the years, both local and state politicians have attempted without much success to augment shrinking tax revenue streams from myriad other sources.


Two thoughts… I keep wondering how fair it is that I pay $3,000 per year taxes while my neighbor pays $600? Our houses are very similar.

My recent refinance required an appraisal which came in $60k less than what the county thinks my house is worth. I called the county and immediately realized that it is in the county’s best interest to keep my house appraised unrealistically high. The county owes me $600; I have to fight to get it from them. I own a house and must pay taxes, but, the county is not handling current home values in an honest manner. Needless to say, I live in Los Osos.


Did you talk directly to the Assessor’s Office (Bordonaro)? I think they are on a schedule of reducing property values. I’ve had pretty good luck with them so far.


Each year there’s a timeframe in which a homeowner can challenge their assessment. This year the county lowered my property tax to agree with similar properties without my requesting it. I thought this was happening countywide.


What, They lowered your property taxes and you thought this was happening county wide? I’ve had my home 12 years and they raised my taxes “AGAIN” this year. They have been raising them all along and my home has certainly dropped in value along with everyone else. I’m going to call the CTA office on Monday and ask for an accounting of his assessment formula.


Cindy, get ready to be shocked. The assessments are done by computer and “looked over” by a human in the assessor’s office. As I was told, assessments are done by looking at similar properties in your area that have sold. My assessment came in so high because the “program” was comparing my house to 3/2 bed/bath houses (my house is 2/1) and giving me credits for having less rooms and bathrooms, etc. When I asked why my house was compared to larger houses, I was told that was what the program decided to do. When I asked for a listing of the amount of credits they gave me of having less than bigger houses, they said there was not such a list. Needless to say, I don’t trust the assessor’s office. They claimed they assessed properties in the county for a “billion dollars” less this year, but my house was not among those assessed for less. Something is really funny here. When I spoke to various people in the assessor’s office, I got a lot of ambiguous statements.

After all these years, I finally see something good about the los osos sewer: severly lower property values. I hope the assessors office will eventually have pity on us and assess up according to our true property values.


Cindy, I should have been more clear in my situation. I purchased a home at the top of the market, and the assessment was based on that price of course. This was say, 7 yrs. ago. Obviously prices have decreased dramatically and I’ve lost 100K easily. The county was looking for properties such as this to re-evaluate. For those that purchased many years ago, at 2% per year max increase, they may still be catching up with the market value. But, it is my understanding that if you bought at a certain time and your value has decreased, it will be reflected in your tax. My assessment went down about 50K in the last 2 reassessments.


Actually my post should have read that I purchased not at the top of the market, but on the way up. For example, I paid 300K. The value went as high as 400K, then plunged to its current value of around 250K. My assessment was lowered to 250K without my asking. It took 2 reassessments to get there.


Well it would depend greatly on when you bought your house.

I for one have owned my home from before prop 13 hit and have paid into the game for over 35 years. Now the same could be said for my paying the school tax on my property, I have been paying for a very long time. Those who buy today are paying the current market value on both their homes and the tax rates. Costs have gone up not down…


These individuals mangers (family homes) guarded so fiercely are a pittance. Prop 13 was sold to ostensibly protect grandma. The real beneficiaries were the likes of Union Pacific, the Mormon Church and corporate property owners of commercial real estate. Long time owners like these, and there are many more, are getting away with murder. Those properties never change hands. If they do, they don’t get reassessed, thanks to legal shenanigans. Assessing all commercial property at market values could add $5 billion more to state coffers. Good analysis at http://www.almanacnews.com/news/show_story.php?id=6271.

fat chance

If the the politicians dump prop. 13, I think california would collapse…..i’m thinking maybe 22 or 23 people could actually afford to live here:-)


When I heard Gov. Brown was looking at Prop.13 to change it, I immediately sent him an e-mail voicing my displeasure at that even being discussed. To give the government more money to spend unwisely at my expense is silly. When I see what people pay in property taxes in houses bought recently only a few doors down from me is mind boggling. If I had to pay what they are paying, you might as well put me in the ground right now, cause it wouldn’t take long for me to be destitute and senior anyway.


Too, property taxes unfairly target a subset of the “govt services consuming” population, rather than equally taxing the entire population.

Property taxes are by definition levied ONLY against property owners. Yes, property owners try to recoup this fee through higher rents, but a more fair solution is to tax all of us equally, regardless of what we own or earn.


corporations with juicy gov/military contracts should pay more taxes .


This is the bogus class-envy argument. Corporations don’t pay taxes. Any tax on a corporation becomes a cost of doing business and is either passed on to the customer or taken from the shareholders equity or dividends (e.g mutual funds in your IRA or 401K).

In the end, the only source of tax revenue is living, breathing humans, and as Roger mentioned in another post, tax law is directly targeted at the middle class because that’s where most of the money is in our economy.


Let me refer you to the tax rate before we became a debtor nation


We are already a debtor nation. Ask the Chinese.



Kevin Rice

Property tax = RENT (as in, you don’t own it, the government rents it to you)


Property taxes completely contradict the concept of property *ownership.* They should be done away with entirely and politicians should be forced to compete with the homeless for change. People can, and will, contribute to schools and such directly.


My wife and I already contribute to our kids’ schools. We volunteer our time, we dive hundreds each year to the PTA to cover the various field trips, etc.

I think you’re right here, mkaney, *good* parents will find the time and/or break out the checkbook. If the government came to us and said, you can either pay (hypothetically) $4,000 in property taxes this year, OR pay $4,000 to your school… it’s a no-brainer.

Besides, all those property owners that have no children will not be forced to pay for mine.

Finally, property ownership is the greatest example of freedom. Start impinging on that, and freedom is soon lost. As Regan has said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”


I can remember as a brand new homeowner what a relief it was when Prop 13 passed. Before the passage, property taxes increased kind of like health insurance today.


They are always looking for someone else’s money to spend. We have never had a revenue problem, we have always had a spending problem.