and it’s playing for Alamedans for Fair Taxation, who recently wrote an open letter in the Alameda Sun. They felt as though it would make their case stronger if they “quantified” how much Measure H would cost select businesses in Alameda. Some of the businesses were hard to identify which they were, but for the one was discoverable through process of elimination it was interesting to see how much they were paying in relationship to their base property tax. The “family-owned nursery” would indeed pay $3,500 per year, but guess what their ad valorem property tax is? Less than $1,300 per year.
Of course, others have weighed in on this issue. From Stop, Drop, and Roll on the issue of the term “fair” as in “Alamedans for Fair Taxation”:
…It’s unfair just like our current property tax system is unfair. In fact, a quick check of the property taxes paid by the Kelly’s on their store shows that my family pays over $3,500 a year more than the Kelly’s do thanks to Prop 13 (which was passed by a lower percentage of voters than Measure H did.) That’s not fair.
It’s also not fair that Kelly’s store received a grant from the city last year to fix up her awning. It looks nice, but I’m wondering where my grant for painting my house is, it’s only “fair.”
Let’s not even start on who was supporting the city-built parking garage, and what “fair” means when you push for public funding to support your business and then complain about a four-year tax to support the schools.
Many folks in Bayport are paying over $8,500 more, plus taxes to pay for their streets and parks that are on top of the taxes they pay for the rest of Alameda’s streets and taxes. That’s not fair!…
Here’s a brief list of properties that pay way less on the property taxes than I do, I live in Bayport, my ad valorem is way more than $8500 and I pay a crapload of other additional taxes and fees for services for the pleasure of living in Alameda:
- Pillow Park Plaza (with Measure H assessment)
- Pauline’s Antiques (with Measure H assessment)
- The “family owned nursery” referenced above (with Measure H assessment)
- All three of Borikas’s properties added together. (with Measure H assessment)
More recently, though, Eve Pearlman has commented on the issue of the fairness, in general, of taxation, highlights:
…To be clear: Although it is sometimes painful, I am OK paying our taxes. I am grateful for all the things provided by government, from health services for the needy to tended trails in public parks, from oversight of pesticides on crops to a functioning judicial system.
But, taxes: Neighbors live in a house with a floor plan identical to ours. They pay just $1,740 a year…Right now, their house is on the market. If it sells for the roughly $850,000 asking price, the new owners will pay about $11,000 in property taxes…I can’t think of any standard by which this is fair…
The owners of Pauline’s Antiques (I mention them because they’re been vocal opponents of Measure H) will this year have a property tax bill of $5,450…The owners of Pillow Park Plaza, also outspoken Measure H opponents, are poised to pay a total of $10,750 in property taxes…
By way of contrast, Park Street property owners who bought their buildings more recently pay significantly higher property taxes. For example, the owners of a 7,300-square-foot Park Street building south of Pillow Park and Pauline’s have this year a property tax bill of $21,740. The owners of another recently-sold Park Street building…considerably smaller than Pillow Park and Pauline’s…has a property tax bill of $20,800. Are we still holding up “fair” as a standard?
A flat per parcel tax, one that is assessed without regard to property size or use or value, is of course not fair either. Should a shopping center pay the same price as a two-bedroom bungalow?…
There are some interesting comments on Eve P.’s blog in reaction to her column, definitely worth a read.
And while we are on the subject of Measure H and its detractors, AUSD has filed a “Demurrer to Complaint for Invalidation” in the Borikas case. This is scheduled to be heard on February 9, 2009. The demurer basically smacks down the Borikas complaint essentially saying that they haven’t made a legal case. Six out of the seven grounds proffered in the demurrer begins with “The complaint in uncertain…” lists a section, then says “…it is impossible to determine…” how the District violated whatever it is proposed that they violated. The District is suggesting that the complaint is uncertain, which according to the Code of Civil Procedure is defined as “ambiguous and unintelligible.” The failure of Borikas to adequately outline what the bases of his complaint is makes it impossible for AUSD to respond and therefore defend its case.
One of the most important issues in this demurrer is item D in the Memorandum of Points and Authorities which questions the legal standing of Borikas to even bring this case in the first place. According to the Memo of Points and Authorities, the Code of Civil Procedure states that one can only bring a proceeding if that person is an “interested person.” And while we can all argue that we all are “interested” people, legally that means that one needs to have a direct, not consequential, interest in the matter. As I mentioned previously in another post, none of the Borikas properties are commercial and I have confirmed that two of the three have been levied the residential amount. The third has no amount listed for either Measure H or the previous school parcel tax, so I’m assuming that this is the property that has received the exemption.
Nothing new in the Beery case other than the School District requesting a time extension to respond to the complaint.