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Prop. 13: Property Taxes and Seismic Improvements

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
The supporters of this year’s Prop 13 say the goal is to level the playing field for owners of all types of buildings who want to make seismic improvements. In the state Constitution right now the rules are inconsistent.  People who make these improvements to their unreinforced brick, cement block or adobe buildings have fifteen years until their property taxes are re-assessed. The owners of other types of buildings who make similar improvements don’t get re-assessed until the property is sold. San Luis Obispo County Assessor Tom Bordonaro calls it a quirk in the law that became glaringly obvious after the 2003 earthquake that damaged Paso Robles.
Folks were very upset that number one their building had fallen down and number two they were going to receive a reassessment for their seismic retrofitting because the buildings that went down were unreinforced masonry.
So if Prop 13 passes, it means earthquake safety improvements won’t prompt higher property taxes—that is, not until the property is sold. Bordonaro says property owners shouldn’t be punished for making buildings safer.
It’s about equity, it’s about fairness, it’s about treating everybody equal under the law. And so I think there won’t be that disincentive as there was before this inequitable treatment.”
As for the fiscal effects, the state’s non-partisan Legislative Analyst says losses in local property tax income would be minor.
If approved by voters the measure would make the change in the state Constitution. 
There is no organized opposition to the measure, which was placed on the ballot by the state legislature.
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