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Warning: Attacking Proposition 13 is Political Suicide

ACA 13 presents a golden ticket for politicians and special interest friends to make it easier to raise taxes and erode the Prop. 13 safeguards

By Luis Alvarado, September 1, 2023 11:53 am

In politics, some battles can make or break a career. California’s Proposition 13, a steadfast symbol of taxpayer protection since 1978, is one such battleground. Any elected official who attacks this proposition directly is akin to placing themselves in the electric chair of politics.

The history books of failed campaigns are filled with candidates who ventured into this hazardous territory only to be defeated. As just one example, Assembly Member Quirk-Silva fell victim to this in 2014 when she was one of the first incumbent Democrat Legislators in several decades to lose re-election after supporting a measure that undermined Prop 13. To those contemplating an assault on Proposition 13, heed this cautionary tale.

Proposition 13, the grassroots movement of California voters who defiantly exclaimed “Enough is Enough,” enacted property tax protections that have served as a base of economic stability for homeowners, businesses, and working-class Californians. That’s why it remains overwhelmingly popular with voters today. However, the political landscape was recently jolted by the sudden emergence of Assembly Constitutional Amendment 13 by Assemblyman Chris Ward (D-San Diego) – a constitutional amendment that the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) has labeled as a direct attack on Proposition 13.

According to HJTA, ACA 13, if allowed to survive, presents a golden ticket for politicians and their special interest friends that makes it easier to raise taxes and erode the safeguards of Proposition 13. Supporting ACA 13 is a dangerous proposition, even for Democrats, because it threatens the essence of Californians’ democratic rights. With one of the nation’s highest taxes burden, Californians’ ability to stand up for themselves against excessive taxation will be severely eroded under ACA 13.

In the world of California politics, few battles are as dangerous as assaulting Proposition 13. For those who contemplate such a course, the list of failed campaigns and the political graveyard is filled with the remains of those who underestimated the power of Proposition 13 and the resilience of its defenders. 

The 2024 primary is just around the corner, and political consultants like me are already outlining the political ads.

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10 thoughts on “Warning: Attacking Proposition 13 is Political Suicide

  1. The ranks of the total takers who are here, have been and are being imported predicated on the damage they can do are solely here for the free stuff: These folks in conjunction with the numbers by which voting results can be altered suggests the eradication of prop. 13 almost a “done deal”.

    Newsom, a rabid communist collectivist is hell bent on destroying the private sector and the sanctity of human life.

    Parasite voters numbers combined with and by virtue of the potential falsification factor suggests the RE holdings we once relied on partially due to prop.13 for sustaining value are tenuous at best.

    Insures are abandoning California RE in droves: Indemnification entities are replete with actuaries who have a clear view into the future of Cali RE and by their actions and decisions have concluded the future of Cali RE bleak.

    Elections do not matter! GET IT! We are nothing more than “gum on the shoes” of Newsom and his DC communist cronies successfully doing everything necessary to destroy America and California in minimal time.

    We have been transformed from useful idiots to mere disposables. Prepare accordingly.

  2. My mother was forced out of he home prior to Prop 13. Seniors on fixed income were kicked out because the tax burden skyrocketed with inflation causing frequent reassessments.
    California is only going to get worse as the state refuses to cut spending.

  3. The majority of California voters are dumb enough to vote for eliminating prop 13. Especially if you sprinkle in some woke double speak such as saving the environment, promoting equity, fighting white supremacists, defeating Trump or saving democracy! Ironically it would create a cascade of movers out of California who are on the edge financially or on fixed incomes and severely damage the economy. But Democrats could care less about the future they just want money and power NOW!

  4. Is attacking Proposition 13 still political suicide when the criminal Democrat party can brazenly steal elections with impunity by voter fraud and rigged voting machines?

  5. So by this stage all the old people whose homes were supposed to be “saved” by Prop 13 are long dead. Decades ago. Even though most cities by 1978 had property tax reduction plans in place or planned for those on fixed incomes. And a state level plan had been stalled by Jerry Brown’s incompetence in the 1977/78 session. But hey, their kids and by now grand-kids got to inherit the Prop 13 tax assessments from 50+ years ago. I know mansions in Montecito that pay less property tax than small track houses in the outer reaches of the Inland Empire.

    And the other great promise of Prop 13, to reign in state / local government spending, how did that work out over the last 6 decades? Have you looked at state budget recently? Or city budgets? And compare with the same from the late 1970’s. That worked out really well did it. Another total failure of the promises of 1978.

    I’ll start taking the state Republican Party seriously again when the drop this Prop 13 fetish which by this stage mainly benefits the kids and grand-kids of the top 10% (look at the numbers) who overwhelmingly vote Gentry Democratic (90%+). Just imagine how these people would vote if they were paying property tax that was calculated in the same way it is in other states like Washington. No longer paying $4K p.a but $45000 p.a? (those are real numbers from a house I know well). They would sure changing their voting habits once it was their money that was wasted in such huge amounts by the current Democratic Party politicians. Just watch the Gentry Democrats change their political tune when they pay their fair share of the tax bill. Very quickly.

    Abolishing Prop 13 is the perfect wedge issue for the Republican Party. Every argument used in its favor in 1978 proved to be unsupported by subsequent events over the decades. Its now just a millstone around the neck of the party. Get rid of it and the party will be completive again. Keep supporting it and the Democratic Party will remain in power for the foreseeable future.

    Its you choice. A smallish personal financial gain for a relatively few people. Or the state of California being well governing at the state and local level. Because thats the real choice. In real world electoral politics. You find the wedge issue and push it for all its worth. And the only wedge issue that would work the state Republican Party has by this stage is Prop 13.

    1. Your points are interesting. The only thing I could add is that is also it also makes it hard to move within CA. I moved in 2016 and it was PAINFUL because I had to take on the new tax rate. At a tactical level, this could be a failure for CA GOP to hold on and it seems like the thing that Country Club GOPe shows up for this when they won’t just stand with Trump and also caved to Big Pharma with the lockdowns. The Country Club is mostly Dems now anyway…as you pointed out. Generally speaking…they have simply failed to motivate and serious changes need to be made. CA GOP looks like the Sierra Club right now. All green colors and a big “donate” button.

    2. First off, Prop 19 killed the opportunity for children and grandchildren to inherit properties with Prop 13 protection so you’re already misinformed. There are a number of 8-16 unit apartment buildings owned and operated by individuals with under market rents. If Prop 13 is eliminated, these buildings will be sold to corporations and upgraded so as to rent at market rates. There goes your affordable housing. Because of city and state rent control laws, landlords will be unable to raise rents to cover the increased property tax bills.

  6. @No Newsom

    The collapse of housing stock turnover first became noticeable in the late 1980’s / early 1990’s . Due to the reasons you mentioned. Moving in state now meant a big increase in property taxes for the same value of a given house.

    I remember a newspaper article in the 1990’s when San Francisco’s population started rising again for the first time in almost 40 years mentioning that not only no net new housing units been added in the previous 5 years, it had gone down due to conversions from divided houses back to single family homes, but also that house mobility rates in city even in relative newly built areas like the Sunset and Parkside had been reduced to almost nil. Where it has remained ever since.

    The only reason “average price” houses go on the market in SF today are the same as they were in the 1990’s. The owner has died and the heirs are selling. That was the main reason from the 1980’s till early 2000’s. Or the owner is moving out of state. Most houses sales I’ve seen the last decade or so are people retiring, cashing in, and moving out of state. Or the house has gone in to foreclosure. During the regular housing price crashes some people do move around a bit more but that is not very common.

    So yet another very negative effect of Prop 13 is that it has greatly reduced the volume of housing sales in state. And houses on the market. Based on what I have seen in one fairly typical area – by around 80% since the 1970’s. Which of course just adds yet another multiplier on high prices caused by regulation and zoning. The main driving force for very high property prices since the early 1970’s.

    As for the state Republican Party. The “country club” people left in the 1980’s. The ordinary middle class people who did most of the footwork during elections starting leaving the state in the early 1990’s and never came back. One angle I have never seen mentioned is the very pronounced Curly Effect in the various policies the Democratic Party push hard in Sacramento. Gotta get rid of people who vote against us. Not matter what long term damage it does to the state and its people. Power is power. And billions of state $’s is billions of state $’s. Which is the real motivating force. Spoils and pork.

  7. I think the media has a duty to educate the public on what Prop 13 is and what it is not. The biggest problem with Prop 13 is the legislature did not do its job. The result is local governments have pushed local sales and parcel taxes and we have a number of band-aids on the fiscal system such as Prop 72, overreliance on bond financing, and ERAF. Prop 13 was a massive transfer of power from local governments to the state which was supposed to allocate the state-assessed property tax to local governments based on need. Instead, the state froze the allocation as it was in 1976 so some governments are overfunded and others underfunded. What the state could do is charge county LAFCO’s with tax allocation authority.

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