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In the News

The Los Angeles Times
October 8, 2018
Editorial: Proposition 5 is a cynical, self-serving measure cooked up by the real estate industry. Vote no
In their wisdom or their foolishness, California voters upended the status quo in 1978 when they passed Proposition 13 in a stunning taxpayer revolt that shook the nation.

The ramifications of that radical proposition continue to be controversial — and widely misunderstood — today. But this much is pretty simple: Proposition 13 provided relief to homeowners by capping most property tax rates at 1% of a home’s sale price and holding annual increases in assessed value to 2% or less. That was obviously good for people who owned houses (especially as the years passed and their taxes grew more slowly than the market value of their homes). But it took a serious toll on governmental revenues and on the programs funded by those revenues.

Now there’s a proposition on the November ballot that would expand those benefits for homeowners. But this measure — Proposition 5 — goes too far, costs too much and serves no important public purpose. It would skew tax breaks further away from people who don’t own a home or who may be struggling to buy one. It would cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year. What’s more, it’s a cynical, self-serving measure promoted by a single interest group. It deserves a no vote.
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The Mercury News
September 29, 2018
Opinion: Prop. 5 benefits wealthy, hurts local government
Amid a housing crisis that has placed countless California families in severe economic stress, the last thing we need is a new state policy that would push home prices even higher and put middle-class families at an even greater disadvantage.

Yet that is precisely the policy that the California Association of Realtors, which put Proposition 5 on the Nov. 6 ballot, is asking voters to adopt.

When considering how to vote, Californians should ask themselves: Who does Prop 5 hurt? Who does Prop 5 actually help?

The answers are that it will hurt almost all Californians and help only a select few — and those few are least in need of preferential treatment.

Two independent nonpartisan research institutions have thoroughly studied those questions, and their conclusions are clear.
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The Press Democrat
September 26, 2018
Editorial: No on Prop 5: Property tax break goes too far
Imagine a pollster asking you about a ballot initiative that would drain $1 billion from local government coffers, most of it earmarked for public schools.

And what if the initiative’s sponsors stood to profit from its approval?

That, in a nutshell, is Proposition 5 on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The initiative, written by the California Association of Realtors, would allow homeowners 55 and older to buy more expensive homes without paying any more in property taxes.
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The Sacramento Bee
September 25, 2018
Editorial: Supporters say Proposition 5 would help California’s housing crisis. That’s a sham.
If more older homeowners moved, it might make more houses available for younger families and ease California’s housing crunch.

Proposition 5, however, is not how to make that happen. Instead, the Nov. 6 ballot measure would make property taxes in California even less fair while devastating the budgets of local schools and governments. Voters should reject it.
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San Francisco Chronicle
September 19, 2018
Editorial: Proposition 5 would make California’s housing and inequality problems worse
For all of its wonderful qualities, California is also one of the most economically unequal states in the nation.

Proposition 5 would take that inequality and compound it for generations to come.

It’s hard to describe how many different bad policies Prop. 5 would create or exacerbate. The idea behind the initiative, which was developed by the California Association of Realtors, is to increase the number of housing units on the market.

That’s a worthy goal, but any reasonable economist would explain that the easiest and most equitable way to achieve it is to increase the housing supply.
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The Mercury News
September 10, 2018
Editorial: Prop. 5 worsens already-broken state property tax system
California voters should reject Proposition 5, a regressive measure that would provide additional property tax breaks to long-term homeowners — especially those with pricier houses — who already pay significantly lower tax bills.
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Sonoma Index-Tribune
September 10, 2018
Prop. 5 could affect Sonoma city, school coffers
An initiative on the November ballot that would allow senior California homeowners to move and still get a property tax break could cause revenue to Sonoma Valley schools and the city of Sonoma, as well as schools and cities across the state, to drop significantly.

Experts say Proposition 5, proposed by the California Association of Realtors, could play out in different ways. However, if more and more homeowners over 55 moved to the Valley, bringing their lower taxes with them, revenue would stagnate or even drop – and 21 percent of the city’s general fund comes from property taxes.

Schools and other local governments each probably would lose over $100 million in annual property tax revenue in the first few years, growing over time to about $1 billion per year in today’s dollars, according to the state Legislative Analyst’s Office, a nonpartisan fiscal agency that has advised the state legislature for decades.

“Places like Sonoma are at a threat of having a freeze or even reduced property taxes if (the proposition) passes, because someone will bring a tax base with them that is lower than would have happened otherwise,” said Robert Eyler, a professor and chair of economics at Sonoma State University.
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San Diego Tribune
August 15, 2018
How Prop 5 benefits wealthy at expense of public safety
When California voters decide on Proposition 5 this November, the most important thing to know is who will benefit and who will get hurt.

Proposition 5 was written by the real estate industry and it delivers a sizeable benefit to a single group: Realtors. But it hurts our state to the tune of $1 billion in annual losses to public schools and essential services like fire protection.

Proposition 5 would create a new, lucrative tax break that heavily benefits wealthier homeowners over 55. Under the measure, these individuals could use their new tax break over and over again to buy bigger, more expensive houses anywhere in California. Every one of these expensive home sales comes with big profits for the real estate industry, which explains why the wealthy special interest is the only sponsor of Proposition 5 and has already spent $7 million trying to pass it. The authors of Proposition 5 claim to be on the side of struggling seniors and people with severe disabilities. What they don’t want you to know is this: Homeowners over 55 and people with severe disabilities can already keep their current property tax assessment when they downsize their homes, as many do, to use the equity for retirement or move closer to family. This protection for seniors is in the California Constitution.
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Los Angeles Times
August 10, 2018
Podcast: What's the deal with Proposition 5, the property tax break for elderly homeowners?
In November, Californians will vote on four housing-related ballot measures. One of them, Proposition 5, is sponsored by the California Assn. of Realtors, and it gives homeowners 55 and older the ability to take part of their lower property tax base with them when they move to a new home.

On this episode of Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast, we debate the pros and cons of the statewide measure. It will provide incentives for older Californians to move out of larger, family-friendly homes into smaller places for empty nesters. At the same time, it gives even more state subsidies to a generation of homeowners who already have benefited from California’s property tax rules favoring those who have lived in their homes a long time.
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