Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 4, 2013

Domino effect

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: , , , , , — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

In this case, the first domino to fall was Alameda after losing at the appellate court level, but has been granted a reprieve in the form of a re-hearing at the appellate court level.   As I mentioned on Friday, in response to the first Appeals Court decision, Assemblymember Rob Bonta has introduced legislation that would allow for “rational classifications” to be included when structuring school parcel taxes.   While some may cynically view this as a self-serving piece of legislation to further Rob Bonta’s political career — and seriously people, I don’t know how some of you go through life thinking the worst of everybody and everyone.  I mean, I’m not super naive or anything but the levels of cynicism that exists is breathtaking sometimes, but I digress — this has become an issue that extends way past the borders of Alameda.

The same law firm that took up the Borikas case has gone to practically every single jurisdiction that he could possibly muster and is now suing a bunch of other school district, from the Hayward Daily Review:

On the heels of the precedent-setting court victory, attorney David Brillant is seeking to invalidate four parcel tax measures approved on the November ballot in San Leandro Unified, West Contra Costa Unified, Davis Joint Unified and a group of five districts in Los Angeles County. Brillant filed the suits in the county courts in January, just before the 60-day statute of limitations following the election was up, he said. His clients, which vary from case to case, are commercial property owners in each district.

San Leandro’s Measure L was slated to raise $12 million over five years by collecting $39 per residential parcel, $19 per unit on multifamily units with five or more units, and $0.02 per square foot for businesses.

The West Contra Costa School District had a five year extension for an existing parcel tax to raise $50 million by collecting 7.2 cents per square foot on building size and $7.20 per empty parcel.

Davis Unified School District also voted for a parcel tax extension to raise $12.8 million by collecting $204 per parcel and $20 per dwelling unit for multifamily housing.

And five school districts in West LA approved a 12 year measure to collect $132 million by collecting $0.02 cents per square foot of lot for residential property and 7.5 cents per square foot of lot for nonresidential properties.

So perhaps this is simply political calculus on the part of Rob Bonta, a feel good piece of legislation designed to win over supporters and fans, but even if that is the case, there is a clear need to establish legislative intent on the issue of parcel taxes and whether “uniform” should be strictly interpreted the way that is being suggested that a vacant lot gets taxed exactly the same way as a football stadium would.    Or is uniform within different classes such as “residential” or “multifamily” or “business” or “vacant” what the legislature intended, or rather intend if that is something that had not been considered previously.

Right now millions of dollars for nine different schools districts hang in the balance which will affect thousands upon thousands of California students and teachers.   We could wait and see what the court decides or leave it in the hands of the California legislature to state, definitively, that “rational classifications” within each parcel tax are okay as long as it is uniform within those classifications.   I think that most can see that within the examples above, and within Measure H itself, the classifications of different types can be considered rational and within those classifications the tax was applied uniformly.



  1. Wow, I’m impressed! In the previous post, Jack Richard called the Super Bowl precisely! Way to go, Jack! Hope you had a lot of money on it!

    Comment by vigi — February 4, 2013 @ 9:20 am

  2. In other news, Brillant announced a further effort to make the tax code uniform. He, on behalf of his esteemed client Ed Hirshberg, is suing the state to overturn Proposition 13.

    Reached by phone, Brillant stated: “My client is sick & tired of paying lower taxes than his neighbors solely because of when he inherited his real estate. Uniform means uniform, and we will take this all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.”

    Comment by Fox News — February 4, 2013 @ 9:26 am

  3. It is really, really “comforting” to know that people like David Brilliant and many commercial property owners are suing school districts all over the state, further reducing the paltry sums Californians allocate to educating students, “supporting” education by draining the schools’ limited resources, stealing the proverbial widow’s mite to fatten their own wallets.

    I cannot think of a better way to strengthen public education–and ensure that there will be a smart, capable next generation of lawyers and commercial property owners to come after them–than for these patriots to keep draining the schools of resources with such fervor….

    Of course, David Brilliant and the commercial property owners will make money from these efforts. Perhaps their real goal is maintaining their freedom to pursue their religion–greed–and make as much money as possible without regard to how their personal gains affect the people around them?

    (My faith tells me that people like David Brilliant and the commercial property owners may face a different kind of judgment at the end of this life and perhaps face a very warm reception, but by then, it may be too late for students in Alameda and other California public schools. Oh, well. At least David Brilliant will have lots of public school tax dollars to fund his retirement.)

    Comment by Jon Spangler — February 4, 2013 @ 9:31 am

  4. I agree with Ed. I think all property should be reassessed at 1975 levels and then limited to 1% per year increase in ad valorem tax.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 4, 2013 @ 9:37 am

  5. “No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up.” -Lily Tomlin

    Comment by Johh Shasky — February 4, 2013 @ 9:38 am

  6. Lauren: “. . . there is a clear need to establish legislative intent on the issue of parcel taxes. . .” And you do that by using a word like ‘rational’? Clear as mud. Again I say, nice try for a freshman congressman, but FAIL.

    Comment by Not. A. Alamedan — February 4, 2013 @ 10:32 am

  7. I look at the word “rational” like that of “reasonable” when discussed in context with the theory of the reasonable person. While, as lay people, we can all say that “your reasonable is not the same as my reasonable” perhaps there is a legal definition for “rational” as well.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 4, 2013 @ 10:37 am

  8. Brillant, not Brilliant. How much do you pay in Property Taxes, Jon? I thought you rented….

    Comment by vigi — February 4, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

  9. I think a rational or a reasonable person would read this,

    “special taxes that apply uniformly to all taxpayers or all real
    property within the school district, except that “qualified special
    taxes” may include taxes that provide for an exemption from those
    taxes for all of the following taxpayers:

    and determine that ‘uniformly’ means what it says unless exempted.

    Judges and lawyers are not included in the ‘reasonable person’ pool.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 4, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

  10. # 2 ,
    You are a moron, nobody would complain paying lower taxes and yes uniform means uniform no matter how much actvist judges try to spin it.

    Thank God there are still good citizens willing to make a stand for the rule of law using their own funds to stop these unlawful parcel taxes.

    Comment by GCOBRE — February 4, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

  11. # 3

    We are merely asking that the law, which is crystal clear in this matter, be followed. That should hardly be reason to endure an eternity of fire and brimstone. Investors are not draining schools resources. In fact many pay hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in taxes. Teacher and administrative pension drain millions of dollars that could have been used for education. When California achieved statehood 5 percent of the land was reserved to support education. Much of this was frittered away, and what is left is used entirely for pensions. Those of us in the private sector must save for our own pension. This is truly a case of the fox guarding the hen house.

    Comment by GCOBRE — February 4, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

  12. Jon Spangler…….I hope you plan to have a Vacuum on your Tombstone…….Your mindset and household has sucked the Lifeblood out of this City…….Promoting and Profiteering of the raiding of all our assets you will not be looked at kindly in the Biblical Sense…….God Bless

    Comment by John — February 4, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

  13. The Crap you have tried to float in last few years makes the Madoffs look like Mother Theresa.

    Comment by John — February 4, 2013 @ 6:01 pm

  14. The difference between the state and the individual:

    Mike McMahon
    I can think of at least 32 reasons that Prop 13 ain’t fair. Prop 13 must go. If can you think more reasons why Prop 13 discriminates against you, please contact me.

    Proposition 13 is not the cause of the problem. My first job out of college in the seventies was helping hard working middle class Americans sell houses on which they could no longer afford the taxes, despite having no debt. They had retired on dollar denominated fixed income, and it lost its purchasing power after we went off the gold standard on 8-15-71. After selling their house they then had to pay capital gains taxes,and many moved to mobile homes and hoped God’s call would be timely. I have watched the price of homes go up 15 fold since I got my RE license. Who among us can afford to have our property taxes go up 15 fold? That would take mine to 90K per year.

    Comment by Jack Richard — February 4, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

  15. 8, 12, 14: Sorry for the typo, Carol. And we paid lots of property taxes in Palo Alto (11 years) and Alameda (12 years) before we were forced by the 2002 and 2008 economic busts (both following greed-fueled booms) to sell in 2009. So don’t tell me I haven’t paid any.

    Besides, anyone who thinks renters don’t pay property taxes is nuts: what rational/reasonable landlord would fail to incorporate costs like property taxes when figuring out rental and lease rates?

    12: John, I am interested in INCREASING REVENUE to balance our budget: we keep asking for more city, county, and state services but are unwilling to pay a reasonable price for their delivery. California has been living off its assets and the previous generations’ investments for far too long and it’s time that we stepped up to the plate. I vote for tax increases because I am willing to pay for them–and directly or indirectly, I do. (Sales taxes, property taxes, license fees, and more are paid by renters as much as by property owners.)

    You won’t have to worry about vacuuming my tombstone. I won’t have one because I won’t be buried. It’s much greener–and a better use of land– to be cremated than to take up space in a cemetery.

    14: Jack, Proposition 13 has created even more pressure on homeowners since 1978 because commercial property does not change hands as often and is thus not reassessed as often. Businesses are paying much less than they did proportionally in property taxes now than they did in 1978. That is one of many inequities in Prop. 13–not to mention that it has starved schools and local jurisdictions of needed funding for programs and infrastructure, which is thoroughly documented.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — February 6, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

  16. Prop 13 has also been a major cause of property inflation, as it reduces supply.

    Jack & John: google “supply and demand” so you can learn something new.

    Comment by Scorekeeper — February 6, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

  17. # 15
    So Jon, the economic bust got you too? How many families in Alameda do you think are in the same boat? Paychecks are getting smaller and in many cases people have lost their jobs and get none, yet you advocate higher taxes for all not just the commercial property owners. There was a time when every parcel tax passed without opposition. We supported our schools 100% . Then along came measure H and that changed everything . Commercial property owners where singled out to pay the vast majority of the money. There where also many backroom deals and exceptions ( apartment complexes for instance ). Measure H was clearly in illegal tax and that’s why AUSD got sued .

    Some commercial property owners have a straight lease and pay the insurance and taxes, I for instance have done this for every one of my tenants. I have a 5 year lease with them and they know exactly how much they have to pay. I am not a greedy landlord and have reduced the rent considerably over the last years, because of what you call the economic bust. I rather have a tenant, than an empty space , that leaves me to pay the tax. I also don’t have a government pension, since I was in the private sector and the small commercial property I have is my retirement income.

    # 16
    As you can see on # 14 response, it’s not the private sector but the cushy government employees that want to eliminate prop 13. The way things are going, the ” demand will soon dry up the supply ” .

    Comment by GCOBRE — February 6, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

  18. # 15 AND # 16

    In case you missed it, here is a link to today’s Oakland Tribune Editorial….

    Comment by GCOBRE — February 6, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

  19. The housing price conundrum Why did housing prices go up so much from 2000-2006 even though classical supply/demand would not have called for it

    The housing price conundrum Housing price conundrum (part 2) Housing Price Conundrum (part 3) Housing Conundrum (part 4)

    Comment by John — February 6, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

  20. # 12″ John, I am interested in INCREASING REVENUE to balance our budget: we keep asking for more city, county, and state services but are unwilling to pay a reasonable price for their delivery. ”

    Jon……..We have a Pension Bubble in the Public Sector that is unsustainable………Bubbles Bursttttttttttttttt.

    We have the firefighters standing up at city council meeting saying he only makes 33.00 a hour……But his total compensation is 200,000 + a year……..The Fire Union and the Employee Union Buys every election and we have a Mess on our hands…….Including a City Manager Who just happened to contribute to The Mayors Campaign and a council campaigns and what a surprise he was Hired…….

    We are paying 13 X what the private sector pays for pensions to our Fire Dept and paying double what a federal Firefighter earns…….I say that is NOT reasonable………Comparing it to other broke local cities is unreasonable………Just my Opinion……….

    Comment by John — February 6, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

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