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Defeat of Prop. 15 denies schools more revenue

Original post made on Nov 12, 2020

Voters have rejected Proposition 15, a large tax increase on commercial properties, depriving schools of what could have been a significant source of revenue. Backers conceded defeat on Tuesday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, November 12, 2020, 2:25 PM

Comments (18)

Posted by Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 12, 2020 at 8:29 pm

Enough is a registered user.

Local schools have been trying to squeeze more money out of residents for years, there are Bond measure after bond measure for the Elementary district, the High school district and the community Colleges. Then there are the Parcel taxes that they keep putting on the ballot which get approved more often than not. Let's not forget the increase in property tax revenue when property changes hands (Property tax revenue in San Mateo County has been going up over 7% for the last 5 years) Menlo Park and Atherton even more. How much do the schools want or need and where is this money going? There are not more students than there were 5 years ago.

Posted by Corporate Welfare
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 13, 2020 at 11:01 am

Corporate Welfare is a registered user.

So large landowners like Disneyland keep getting a free ride, while new businesses get saddled with MUCH higher property taxes.

Disneyland, built in the 50/60's is part of a 7 billion dollar revenue *per year* operation, pays next to nothing in property taxes.

Corporate welfare.

Posted by Samuel Y
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 13, 2020 at 1:36 pm

Samuel Y is a registered user.

Perhaps the proponents can revise the proposition. The strongest argument against was that old commercial properties that are paying a very low tax rate, when they are reassessed to current levels, would see their taxes increase dramatically, and hence would pass it along to their tenants. Well, instead of reassessing them to current levels in one fell swoop, you instead just lift the cap on commercial properties from 2% to say 6%. Then they see their tax payments rise gradually and it won't affect their small business tenants and consumer prices as much.

Posted by Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 13, 2020 at 6:03 pm

Enough is a registered user.

Frankly I don't think the state needs to start taxing property owners more for any reason. Revenues for schools have been increasing rapidly with the higher valuations on property in our area. Just look at the rise in Property tes revenue over the past decade (more than 8% last year). That is pouring money into the schools. If they need more maybe the state can increase the allocation percentage of property tax revenue to schools. Raising it on commercial property seems like a good idea on the surface but it will increase rents on small businesses and that means residents will end up paying higher prices. given that our Sales taxes are increasing to support CalTrain and there is talk about raising bridge tolls this will just be another hit to everyone's pocket book. When do we say enough is enough?

Posted by lmmp
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 15, 2020 at 9:56 am

lmmp is a registered user.

Disney paid about 55 million in property tax on Disneyland last year. Maybe it would be a little higher at fair market but they are not paying nothing.

Posted by Local Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 15, 2020 at 11:33 am

Local Parent is a registered user.

I heard through various local conversations that most voters want something to change with Prop 13, especially for commercial entities that have been getting a free ride, but that there were concerns with this specific prop.

PLEASE go revise the prop again to something that will pass.

There are too many commercial loopholes allowing businesses to never pay their fair share. He with the best lawyers is winning, not the people.

Posted by Local Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 15, 2020 at 11:41 am

Local Parent is a registered user.

And as to the comments on school funding...
1) the costs to maintain/improve facilities has grown radically in the last decades. Existing taxes don't cover it.
2) we have wildly unfair property tax situation where some school districts have 15K or more to spend per student and others have less than 10K. Is that fair and appropriate? Hell no. California schools have less funding per student than many other states... in a state where everything costs 2X as much.

Here are the 10 states with the highest per pupil spending:

New York ($23,091)
Connecticut ($19,322)
New Jersey ($18,920)
Vermont ($18,290)
Alaska ($17,838)
Wyoming ($16,537)
Massachusetts ($16,197)
Rhode Island ($15,943)
Pennsylvania ($15,798)
New Hampshire ($15,683)

California is closer to the bottom at $ 12,142

San Mateo 2017-18 expenditure statistics (per student):
Bayshore Elementary, $12,924
Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary, $11,019
Hillsborough City Elementary, $19,790
Jefferson Elementary, $11,930
Jefferson Union High, $12,615
Las Lomitas Elementary, $19,384
Menlo Park City Elementary, $16,583
Millbrae Elementary $9,859
Pacifica Elementary, $10,179
Portola Valley Elementary, $24,337
Ravenswood City Elementary, $17,993
Redwood City, Elementary, $12,834
San Bruno Park Elementary, $10,853
San Carlos Elementary, $12,296
San Mateo Union High, $17,787
San Mateo-Foster City Elementary, $11,503
Sequoia Union High, $17,546
South San Francisco Unified $11,520
Woodside Elementary, $25,025

Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 15, 2020 at 3:14 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Local Parent,

I disagree that "most voters want something to change with Prop 13" everyone I have spoken to wants Prop 13 left alone. Raising property on commercial buildings means raising rent on businesses which means we end up paying more for everything we buy locally.

Improving facilities, what like building the PAC at MA which was a huge waste of money. Schools continue to pass bond measure after bond measure that we all end up paying for to upgrade their facilities. We are also paying for Parcel taxes that go to the schools now you want to raise property taxes. When do we say enough is enough? As I pointed out property tax revenues for San Mateo are already growing, and have been for years, are a much higher than inflation rate. During this time the number of students is not increasing by anywhere near the same percentage. The result is more money spent per student and if that is not the case someone needs to look at the school books and find out where that money is going to.

"we have wildly unfair property tax situation where some school districts have 15K or more to spend per student and others have less than 10K. Is that fair and appropriate? Hell no"
That is how it works, Menlo Park School District does not get funding from the state, all their funding comes from property taxes. Other districts that do not get as much from property tax get funding from the state. People are willing to pay the high housing prices and the corresponding high property tax because they want to be in this district. That is their choice.

Posted by David B
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Nov 17, 2020 at 2:15 pm

David B is a registered user.

I'm amused by the headline "...denies schools more revenue". Sort of like "Voter decision to cook dinner at home denies revenue to restaurant".

PS: Only 40% of the Prop 15 money would have gone to schools.

Posted by sr21
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 17, 2020 at 6:01 pm

sr21 is a registered user.

The 750 million spent by both sides on all these ballot measures could be given to the schools every two years. Every one of the propositions was driven by the unions. Prop 22 and 23 where massive amounts of money were spent. Hmmm. Wonder if these propositions help their pocketbooks? Prop 13 for commercial actually helps the unions that are in the building trades.Hopefully they realize that It gives enough certainty to the developers to actually build a project. There are two sides to every issue. Certainly the yes on 15 have some valid points. But so do the no on 15 voters.

Posted by ReadMyHips
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Nov 17, 2020 at 6:19 pm

ReadMyHips is a registered user.

As someone who as battled the "tax everything, tax often, tax at as high a rate as possible without inciting revolution" crowd, it does my heart good to see a relatively reasoned thread of comments. My thoughts:

* As expected, someone pulled the 'prop 13' card. Here are the facts:

1: Prop 13 has never, ever redirect even 1 cent away from schools. Not. One. Cent. People that think so are simply misinformed. Prop 13 has absolutely NO ROLE in apportionment, and it's the apportionment in state assembly bill 8 ("AB8") that ACTUALLY took money away from schools...NOT Prop 13. The Assembly/State/Governor can fix the apportionment WHENEVER THEY WANT.

2: Property tax revenue in California, since the full enforcement of Prop 13 took effect, has grown at more than 7%/year on average for the last 40+ years. To put that revenue growth in perspective, that's higher than inflation and higher than the state's GDP growth. Collectively, property tax revenue is a cash cow in California.

3: While I'm pro-prop13, it's not perfect and I'd be receptive to changes provided those changes included the following:

a: I'm onboard with a split role, but the split shouldn't result in yearly reassessments for all commercial properties. Instead, just give commercial properties a higher cap than residential (another post mentioned the same thing, and I agree).

b: Any increases in property tax revenue must include a reduction in sales tax rates. The 9%, 10%+ sales tax rates are insane and regressive.

c: The abolishment of parcel taxes.

Posted by Local Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 17, 2020 at 9:06 pm

Local Parent is a registered user.

Dear Brian,
At the moment 59 people agree that something needs to change with prop 13 vs. 7 agreeing with you.

This highly unscientific survey tells us 89% of people that read the comment so far support the hypothesis that something needs to change.

And prop 15 narrowly failed with 52% of the vote to the 48% that supported it. 8 million people in California wanted it to change vs. 8.7m that didn't support this specific bill. I suspect the next version will pass.

May the best bill win, rather than the best lawyers.

Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 18, 2020 at 9:47 am

Brian is a registered user.

Local Parent,

I somehow doubt that your "likes" really matter. The voters rejected Prop 15 and I am confident that, regardless of the misinformation that Anti Prop 13 people disgorge, the next one will also fail. I do find it interesting that no one is saying why the schools need more money. As I said property tax revenue has been growing every year by significant amounts (I wish I could get that rate on my accounts), Districts continue to pass parcel taxes, districts continue to pass huge bond measure for "Campus improvements" year after year. People are getting tired of being taxed from every side. Take a look at every dollar you earn and see how much of that you actually get, it is pitiful. No wonder people are leaving California in droves. Yes it is expensive to live here but the tax you pay on top of the higher cost of living is getting ridiculous. Having to pay more because small businesses are having to cover higher rents to pay higher property tax is not the answer. Figure out where the current money is being spend and insure it is not being wasted, that should be the first step.

Posted by RanchGal
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 18, 2020 at 12:50 pm

RanchGal is a registered user.

I voted NO on Prop 19 because as to my understanding of “commercial real estate” non-profits like YMCA and the like would be re-assessed driving up membership fees to outrageous amounts.
I only voted yes on the California State Lottery years ago because it promised to fund the schools. Lie, lie, lie.......

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 18, 2020 at 7:22 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

If schools don't have enough money it is because the state is not giving them enough. Clearly the money is there. One only need look at the revenues collected in property taxes even after Prop 13 and it is clear there is plenty of money. If you want the schools to get more money tell your representative and demand the state start allocating more of the funds collected to the schools. The state has been stealing money from our schools for decades.

Posted by RanchGal
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 19, 2020 at 12:45 pm

RanchGal is a registered user.

I meant “I voted NO on Prop 15
Sorry I could not edit...

Posted by So Tired
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Nov 20, 2020 at 12:39 pm

So Tired is a registered user.

Maybe the schools could stretch the dollars better if they started maintaining the properties in a better way, instead of deciding that complete rebuilds are in order. Redoing recent remodels of playgrounds and soccer fields because they were installed incorrectly, or plans changed and now they want to build something where they just put down some super special type of playground material. Poor planning + ego + too much money + keeping up with the Joneses = enormous amounts of wasted money that could be used in such a better way.

Prioritize the teachers' welfare---and ask them how. Prioritize the kids' welfare---extend lunch hour, so kids don't have to inhale food or choose between eating and running around at the elementary and middle school level. Supervise much more tightly to stamp out the insidious kid bullying (especially at the middle school level) and parent bullying (elementary and middle school). Get rid of known, much-reported teachers who are incapable of doing their jobs (high school level) and can't even be bothered to correct homework.

Local school systems have lost tons of local parent support financially, because we all have become numb to the constant ask, ask, ask----with no improvement in the core issues facing our schools.

Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 21, 2020 at 11:34 am

pogo is a registered user.

Remarkable that 97 PEOPLE "liked" David B's post that took exception to this very misleading headline.

It's bad enough that California elected officials misname propositions to DELIBERATELY mislead voters.

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