A survey of California voters conducted in January has found that a majority do not approve of major parts of the landmark Proposition 13 tax initiative of 1978 that reduced property taxes for the state’s homeowners and business property owners, while limiting future increases to property taxes.
“Our poll found that a strong majority of voters support changes to Prop. 13’s rules for assessing commercial and business property taxes,” said Carl Stempel, lead investigator for the research survey and a professor of sociology and social services for Cal State East Bay. “It also found substantial disapproval of Prop 13’s method of assessing homeowners’ property taxes.
“However, a clear majority want to keep the two-thirds supermajority requirement for passing local tax measures,” said Stempel, who worked on the research with CSUEB faculty colleagues Patricia Jennings and Susan Ingram.
Often referred to as the “third rail of California politics,” Prop 13 allowed for commercial property to be reassessed to the sale price when property changes ownership. But commercial property transactions were structured to avoid reassessments, according to Stempel.
“After hearing arguments for and against the reforms, 75 percent of those asked said they would support an initiative that ensured reassessments when commercial property changes ownership and 64 percent said they would support taxing commercial property at its current market value,” Stempel said.