Professors Discuss Propositions

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By Sharyne Merritt

The propositions are even more confusing this year than usual (hard to believe but perhaps another sign of how bad 2020 is).  With a PhD in Political Science and 15 years as a professor of marketing (selling presidents or propositions is the same as selling soap), I take elections seriously.  I spent several hours researching each prop (recommend and discussing them with two other retired professors.  
(Full disclosure two of us are life long Democrats and one calls himself a “Rockefeller Republican”; all three of us are voting for Biden/Harris.)  We found some very tricky elements and didn’t agree on everything, so I’d like to share our findings in the hopes that readers will give them serious thought.
14 Issues $5.5 billion in bonds for state stem cell research
2 yes – cutting edge medical research is more needed than ever; federal funding is limited; the proposition has a very impressive list of supporters including American Association for Cancer Research, American Diabetes Association, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, ALS Association, Alzheimer’s Los Angeles, Arthritis Foundation, Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California, and San Francisco AIDS Foundation
1 no:  taxpayers don’t need more state debt
15 Requires commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on market value not prop 13 and dedicates revenue to state government, schools, and local government.  Residential stays the same.  Farms won’t have increased tax on land but will on buildings
2 yes: industrial properties are currently grossly under-taxed; a fair assessment will generate money for local governments and schools.  While it is unfortunate that the taxes will harm small and minority owned businesses that will have the tax passed along, local services and education of many children creates more positive impacts for more people. 
1 no: increase in taxes will be passed along to renters including small and minority owned businesses that don’t own property.  
16 Permits consideration of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, education, or contracting consider 
3 yes: This is not about quotas; it just lets race, sex, etc be one factor of many if desired by government or universities.  A study out of UC Berkeley found minorities were hurt by the previous elimination of affirmative action.  Also, local governments might want to consider bringing in people of different backgrounds when hiring to get different perspectives
17 Felons on parole get the right to vote
3 yes – no brainer - they were good enough to rejoin society.  
18 17-year-olds who will turn 18 by Election Day can vote in primaries
3 yes: most 17-year-olds probably won’t pay enough attention to differences among primary candidates, but hell, most 40 year olds don’t either.
19 Changes tax assessment transfers and inheritance rules:  lets people over 55 (not 65) move 3 times to more expensive properties and take their old prop 13 tax assessment with them
3 no  - passes burden too much to younger people; why give people over 55 3 slices of the cake
20 Makes changes to policies related to criminal sentencing charges, prison release, and DNA collection 
3 no –moves several misdemeanors to felonies; opposed by ACLU  
21 Expands local governments' power to use rent control 
3 no –doesn’t create affordable housing; will hold rents down but discourage building; opposed by Governor Newsom
22 Considers app-based drivers to be independent contractors, not subject to benefits of employees
3 no – gig workers should have health insurance and unemployment compensation; superior court already held they were employees; this would make them a separate category where they would be exempt from benefits; it is funded by companies that stand to gain – Uber, Lyft, DoorDash
23  Requires physician on-site at dialysis clinics
3 no – why is this on the ballot – it’s a legislative issue thrown in our laps.  Opposed by American Medical Association and American Nurses Association/California; would take doctors out of places they are needed.  Also, if something goes wrong with dialysis you need a specially trained nurse or technician, not a doctor. 
24 Expands the provisions of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) 
3 no – While this ostensibly adds protections, the ACLU opposes it and we are betting that the ACLU lawyers are more capable of analyzing this than we are
25 Replaces cash bail with risk assessments for suspects awaiting trial
3 no – while this seems like a no brainer – rich people tend to stay out of jail while awaiting trial while poor people who cannot come up with bail often languish in jail, the ACLU opposes it because replacing bail with a non-transparent algorithm can be equally or more biased.

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a-1603399634 Oct 22, 2020 01:47 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

No on 15, but keep exploring property tax reform. Too many exemptions were carved out for political favor well after the initial Prop 13 was passed. Reform public expenses first to take the pressure off raising taxes in the first place. Convert all public pensions to defined-contribution pensions only. No more defined-benefit public pensions. Then eliminate the "family home transfer at death" property tax exemption, unless a family member continues to reside in that property full time. Prop 15 is way too one sided - all gain for the government employee unions only, and no benefit for anyone else. It has nothing to do with reforming anything. Hold out for real reform; not one more government union cash grab.

hehe320 Oct 22, 2020 01:42 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

About proposition 16, there are multiple studies with different conclusions, the one out of UC Berkeley is just one of them which used many undisclosed data. I wonder if it's the best decision to simply use the race card here without a deeper analysis why some groups are underrepresented? for examples, is it more related to poverty or unemployment? Affirmative action type of concept can be used to help minorities, it was used to limit or deny access for minority too ( How do we know it won't be misused or abused to target certain groups?

Voice of Reason Oct 22, 2020 04:30 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

I'm just a white male so what do I know, but if we keep categorizing people by race how are we ever going to see past race?

Sail380 Oct 22, 2020 04:28 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

How about the close to 20% foreign students at UCSB. The UC system recruits rich foreigners to take the place of deserving minority's.

PitMix Oct 22, 2020 04:06 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

I try to look at things from a common sense angle. If minorities are 50% of our State, then on average they should be 50% of our college students, UC and Cal State. If they aren't, then it probably has to do with lack of opportunity, bad schools, no resources to hire tutors and test preparers, lack of support at home because parents are always working, etc. This has to be addressed by providing additional opportunities to these group. The last thing is- these "less-qualified" kids admitted to the UCs historically graduated at the same rates as the "more qualified" students. Just like those students admitted to the UCs as fake athletes. So the standards we are using to "qualify" people don't appear to be very useful.

Babycakes Oct 22, 2020 01:23 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Isn't this basically what happened to Robert Bernstein? New owner comes in with monthly payments and taxes much higher than the previous owner. New owner needs to raise rents as to where they are not losing money. I think those who are renting rooms/garages/closets will raise their rent if their taxes go up. The real losers? Renters.

dukemunson Oct 22, 2020 01:14 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Prop 15 is ridiculous. Raise the property tax by a fraction on all commercial properties to raise the money. Having every commercial property be re-appraised is just wildly dumb and wasteful. The last thing we need to do is hire dozens of additional auditors and tax agents. Increase the property tax slightly on all commercial buildings and you add the revenue and cut out the ridiculous need for an additional army of tax accessors, who of course would need office space, and supervisors, and cars and pensions and every other thing that adds up to millions per year when it simply isn't needed. This idea of adding wrinkles and additionally auditing headaches to our tax code is ridiculous and wasteful.

citizenSB Oct 22, 2020 12:37 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

If this passes there will be more until prop 13 is completely taken down.
Next will be spilt room for 2nd homes, then for inherited homes, then for rental properties, and finally for owner occupied homes.
We have owned our home for 27 years, without any improvements that would increase our property tax, yet it has has almost doubled from 27 years ago. 2% a year increase doubles in 35 years, AND we have 6 school bond we are paying for and expecting more.
The taxes I am paying after 27 years is only 20% less than if we just bought the house.
I am sure this is the same with commercial property as well.

Simpleton Oct 22, 2020 10:26 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Related to prop 15, commercial landlords will not pay the tax increase...their tenants will in almost all cases. Here are some local facts: My Goleta business is located in a light industrial business park with multiple tenants that occupy offices of 10,000-150,000 square foot (SF). The landlord is one of the largest in the area and they've owned the business park for many decades. Our leases are NNN, meaning that in addition to the base rent we pay a commensurate amount for operating and maintenance expenses based on the square footage of our office. Yes, this means the landlord passes on 100% of the property tax expenses to the tenants. Today my business pays about $2.30 per SF per year for property taxes (again, in addition to the lease and many other operating expenses that are passed on to us related to the NNN term). For calendar year 2022 we have budgeted for a 2x increase for taxes if Prop 15 passes. If this passes I will likely move to a smaller facility and/or reduce headcount. Me and my neighbors, as well as others in the business community, talk often about how Prop 15 will affect our businesses. I'm not the only one reaching the same conclusion. Good luck to everyone with a commercial lease.

Simpleton Oct 22, 2020 11:44 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

NNN commercial leases have been in place for many, many decades and they will remain the norm as far as anyone can tell. Also, commercial leases are generally long (3-10+ years), so there's no option to renegotiate or break the lease. Sure, there is a phase approach through 2025 but no idea what it will appraise for. And the new appraisal might increase taxes 2x more, or 4x more. Who knows? You should chat with a small business owner is incredibly hard to make a profit year after year and the expenses will blow your mind. I do it for the challenge and because I enjoy working with the many people I employee. Prop 15 will just add to the struggle.

PitMix Oct 22, 2020 11:19 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Prop 15 has a phased implementation period, right? So no matter what happens you will not be hit with a full property tax bill the 1st year. When did NNN leases become the norm? Maybe they can become the exception.

a-1603377313 Oct 22, 2020 07:35 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Totally agree with those recommending ballotpedia or the like. This is an op-ed, not an analysis of ballot measures. This amounts to a group of people giving you their opinions of how to vote. You are the only one who can assess how each of these issues will affect you and the society that you want to live in. It is all of our responsibilities to educate ourselves, not to rely on someone else who claims to know the right answer.

a-1603342029 Oct 21, 2020 09:47 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

LA voters are asked this Prop 15 question, these "professors" should answer it before telling us how to vote: ...."LA WATCHDOG--Would you vote to increase our sales tax by 2½% to 12%?
Alternatively, would you vote to increase your property taxes by 22%?

Are you crazy? No way. But this is essentially what will happen if the voters approve Proposition 15, the Split Roll, where commercial and industrial properties would be assessed on their current market value as opposed to the current practice based on the purchase price of the property. ......."

dukemunson Oct 22, 2020 07:38 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

I’m gonna correct my number down to 220k (used 50 years instead of 40). So that’s $2300 per year in property tax... so I guess I will once again correct it (previous correction was “TOTAL BS” from “BS”) to “complete BS”. Feels slightly less strong with the less capitalization and punctuation but still conveys the general sentiment of proving/showing the complete BS of the pitmix post.

dukemunson Oct 22, 2020 07:06 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

No I’m going to change it to: TOTAL BS! SB home price averages in 1979 were 140k (nice try going Cali wide... that lovely home in Stockton or Bakersfield that sold in 1979 doesn’t really factor in to the sb equation we’re talking about... does it ?)

So let’s go with 100k, nice even number. At 2% per year it’s current appraised value would be 270k.

Why constantly lie with your numbers pitmix? You do this on every post... you change or invent numbers to make a point. Feels weird to call you out on every post... but you literally lie on seemingly every post... what’s the deal?

Why not frame your argument that 270k is still low and you are bummed they have to pay that much less than you? Why wildly and obviously distort the numbers?

PitMix Oct 22, 2020 04:14 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Looked it up. Median house price in CA in 1976 was $49K. My neighborhood was less desirable so let's say her house was valued at $25K. After 40 years at 2% a year, the max increase allowed by Prop 13, her home is taxed on $55K or about $550/yr. So my previous numbers were not far off. Still calling BS?

PitMix Oct 22, 2020 03:59 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Duke, call it whatever you want. I looked up the property when it had some very sketchy renters in it a few years ago and at the time the tax bill was like $300. So I bumped it up a little for this post. If the Grandmother had owned it since it was built, in 1949, then her value in 1976 might have been 37K. The Grandmother next to me has owned her home since the 60s and pays $600/yr in property taxes on a home valued at $1M. So widespread disparities do exist. But don't believe me, poke through the tax records for anyone you know that has owned since 1976 and never improved the house after that.

dukemunson Oct 22, 2020 11:25 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

You are saying your neighbors investment property has an assessed tax value of 37k? I'm going to call BS on that.

PitMix Oct 22, 2020 11:23 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

We are not talking about percents, we are talking about absolute dollars. I pay $8000/yr in property taxes. An investment property down the street was owned by a grandmother that put it in trust so that the valuation passed to her heirs. They rent it out for $4000/mo, but pay about $400/yr in property taxes. So their renters are not paying property taxes to support the schools even if they have kids. Very unequitable system. This is what Prop 15 addresses.

a-1603336200 Oct 21, 2020 08:10 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

The propositions are not confusing at all, anyone with a grade 10 education can figure them out. But the recommendations from these professors are complete non sequiturs. Who in their right mind would vote for higher taxes? And who in their right mind would take the advice of some unknown person on how to vote?

PitMix Oct 22, 2020 08:24 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

I wonder how many people will vote the wrong way than they intend on the bail bond prop because it is yes to uphold the current law getting rid of bail bond system, no to accept the proposition and keep the bail bond system? Prop funded by the bail bond operators of course.

a-1603342145 Oct 21, 2020 09:49 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Professors who directly benefit from higher taxes will natually encourage you to vote for higher taxes. They get the benefit; you get the burdens. That is the real nature of politics today in this state. Time to wise up voters; when they say this is for "education"; it is for the teachers unions and no one else who are already among the highest paid in the nation. .

Sbrysa Oct 21, 2020 06:58 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Cant believe they would want to pass more tax on small businesses right now for prop 15. Weve already paid soooo much money for a space we cant use

a-1603384894 Oct 22, 2020 09:41 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

The real benefit of Prop 15 included hiring armies of new tax assessors farming out every three years to invade, snoop and reassess not only the commercia reall property but its fixed inventory as well. All new SEIU dues-paying members. All new big government voters. This is a Democrat dream proposition - more cash, more government jobs and more government member union dus funding more Democrat campaigns.. Don't do it - the initators of Prop 15 were only SEIU an the teachers unions who want to only benefit themselves. This was no grass-roots public outcry like the original Prop 13 was to finally protect property owners from the unrelentless grasp of higher taxes mandated by those directly benefiting from higher taxes. Prop 15 turns the clock back entirely to those days and those who stand to directly benefit from this new cash infusions are lying about it.

Voice of Reason Oct 22, 2020 08:43 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

The bill defines large as over $3M, but nearly all commercial properties have debt of 50-75% the value of the price. So a "large commercial landowner" may have only $750k of equity in that $3M property and the equity may be spread out over many different investors and may have started 20 years ago with a $100K investment. The bill also misses that changing the property tax rules in this way will reduce property values, which will offset some of the tax gains. This is a tax raise that will affect everyone, not just property owners, but small and large businesses as well, and as a result consumers via higher prices. Higher taxes wouldn't be a bad thing if the taxpayers got a good return on their investment (via taxes paid or the higher prices resulting from taxes), but in CA that is simply not the case. We have some of the highest taxes, why don't we have some of the best public schools, infrastructure, mass transit, solvent pension programs, etc. etc., etc.,

PitMix Oct 22, 2020 07:17 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Typos corrected: Complete misinformation. This prop is aimed a large commercial landowners have been gaming the system for years so that their tax bill has dropped to 28% of the total. Recently a multimillion dollar building in LA was sold but the deal was structured so that only 49% of the ownership appeared to change. Letting the building retain the old property tax amount. I guess that is the extremist version of fairness and equity.

PitMix Oct 22, 2020 07:16 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Complete misinformation. This prop is aimed a large commercial landowners who have been gaming the system for years so that their tax bill has dropped 28% of the total. Recently a multimillion dollar building in LA but the deal was structured so that only 49% of the ownership appeared to change. Letting the building retain the old property tax amount. I guess that is the extremist version of fairness and equity.

a-1603327594 Oct 21, 2020 05:46 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Not a good time for SEIU and the teachers unions to dun taxpayers for more money only for themselves, harvesting Prop 15 to back fill their own pensions at our expense. Bureau of Labor Statistics just posted these numbers for California. Non-farm jobs down 9.1%; Leisure and Hospitality jobs down 31.2%; GOVERNMENT JOBS down only 0.6% ( down not even down a single digit) And government unions now want even more of our money for themselves? Not this time. No deal. No on 15. Until taxpayers get defined-contribution public pensions (401K like) instead of the currently ruinous defined-benefit (sign them a blank check taxpayers) pensions; they get not a single dime more. Art of the deal, government unions. Not the art of the steal.

wildturkeyway Oct 21, 2020 05:09 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Who gives a flying squirrel what a handful of quackademics have to say about voting.

yacht rocked Oct 21, 2020 04:23 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

I never thought of myself as a “Rockefeller Republican”, but I lean more that way. Those of us not fleeing California are just trying to get by without taxing ourselves to the streets.

PitMix Oct 21, 2020 02:49 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

I disagree with many of these positions on the props. As a socially liberal fiscally conservative dem, I am generally against bond issues through Proposition, and any proposition that amends our State Constitution to require more votes to overturn the Prop than were required to pass it. 22 for example, will require a vote of 7/8ths of the Legislature to revisit the issue, but only 51% of the voters to pass. Bond issues tie the hands of the Legislature in budgeting so that they have very little ability to reroute revenues during emergencies such as the pandemic. Things to think about no matter what color your party is.

a-1603312088 Oct 21, 2020 01:28 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

I hope any readers who are still unsure how to vote will not pay much attention to comments here. Look on ballotpedia or another resource for actual information.

giftedinSB Oct 21, 2020 12:43 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

I agree with the professor who voted No on Prop 15. Raising taxes to the current market value of the property will present an undue hardship on small business owners. And furthermore, it will also perpetuate the wealth gap of schools. Schools in more affluent areas will receive more funding from higher property taxes, and schools in poorer areas will receive less funding from lower property taxes. For clarity, I realize the poorer schools will receive a higher amount from the increased property taxes, but it will still be less than more affluent areas.

Sail380 Oct 21, 2020 04:47 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Most industrial leases are a NNN lease . The tenant pays insurance, maintenance and TAXES!!!

PitMix Oct 21, 2020 02:42 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

In a capitalist system, the value of the property is the revenue you can get from it, minus the costs, including property taxes. Property taxes go up, revenue stays the same, total cost amortized over 30 yrs has to go down. Prop 15 will be implemented in phases and small business owners will be able to renegotiate their leases based on this info. Saying that small business owners will be hurt is just a scare tactic with no basis in reality.

Byzantium Oct 21, 2020 11:57 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Prop 15 proponents are now panicking. This comes from the Prop 13 Howard Jarvis Taxpayer's Assn busting the bit rush to put out a disinformation campaign in Prop 15' s favor: .......Recent polling suggests that support for split roll is sinking fast, especially among homeowners. This might explain why proponents have, at the 11th hour, countered with the argument that, as corporations have to pay more, the tax burden for homeowners goes down. Nobody believes this.

If Prop. 15 actually reduced taxes on homeowners, it would be in the text of the initiative. It isn’t. If it were true, the impartial analysis by the Legislative Analyst would have said so. It doesn’t. If this were true, proponents of Prop. 15 wouldn’t have waited until three weeks before the election to assert this claim...."

Byzantium Oct 21, 2020 10:40 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

I suspect the government employee union backed "progressives" finally realized they cannot count on the masses of IV student votes to drag them across the finish line. So now these teacher union types are rallying to the cause.

Byzantium Oct 21, 2020 10:38 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

N) on Prop 15- clearly the intended erosion of Prop 13 property tax protections - feeding frenzy only for teachers unions and SEIU- fraudulently obtained signatures, fraudulently presented ballot language, and fraudulently presented benefits.

PitMix Oct 22, 2020 07:21 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

If you landlord raises your cost of doing business above the revenue you can recoup, they are driving you out of business. I don't see how that benefits them. Unless we don't really live in a capitalist system?

Sbrysa Oct 21, 2020 07:03 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Rest assured it wont being the commercial landlord paying it. It will be us tenants who btw some of us have already been shut down for SEVEN months with no help unless u have employees which i dont. So yes i had to pay thouuuusands of dollars of my OWN savings, it will be reflected in our NNN rent.

Ahchooo Oct 21, 2020 06:32 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Businesses can make money using their properties. Single-family homes in which the owners live are not moneymakers in the same way. Prop 13 was not initially intended for businesses. It was designed to keep people (mostly old people) from having to sell their homes because the assessed value skyrocketed over the years when their incomes were fixed. Yes on 15.

Byzantium Oct 21, 2020 03:01 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

PitMix - no such thing as a "fair share" of taxes. That phrased just changes the names of someone you think is greedy. Fairness requires the state expense side of the equation is reduced ( eduction in public employee perks and pension benefits) in exchange for any tax increases on everyone else. Not fair to tax everyone for the sole benefit of the few - the powerful public sector employee unions who backed this cash grab. They need to offer a material quid pro quo; not just demand we keep paying them more and more and more. SEIU and the teachers unions who created this Prop 15 cash grab are holding a bucket with no bottom, asking taxpayers to keep filling it and filling it and filling it. Enough is enough. Just like the taxpayer backlash that led to Prop 13 property tax protections in the 1970's. Government employee union greed has no upper limits. There is your unfairness, Pit Mix.

Voice of Reason Oct 21, 2020 02:59 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

My 5 year old uses that same argument all the time; "it's not fair". My 5 year old doesn't understand the concept of what is and is not "fair" and you don't either Pitmix. Why do you think property owners aren't paying their "fair share" now? The existing property tax structure was in place when they purchased the property, to change it now certainly wouldn't be "fair". Not all property owners are rich, many large properties are owned by hundreds of small investors, many who rely upon the income provided for their living expenses and/or retirement. Is it "fair" to take away some of their income? They probably worked years to save and invest wisely so they'd have some income later in life. That doesn't sound "fair".

PitMix Oct 21, 2020 02:38 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

I know it will pass now that Byzan is against it. How could you be against commercial property owners paying their fair share? They are not the senior citizens being priced out of their own houses that Prop 13 was supposed to protect. Bait and Switch scheme by Jarvis for Commercial Property owners.

sacjon Oct 21, 2020 10:36 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

I'm confused on 25 - They say "no" to replacing cash bail with risk assessment, but the reasoning is that rich people get out on bail too often? Yeah, of course they do when you only have a cash bail system. If they were assessed solely on their flight risk and danger to others (among other factors), then they would be stuck in jail awaiting trial just as often as a poor person convicted of the same crime. With a cash bail system, rich and poor convicted of the same crime would be treated differently - because one could afford to bail out. Am I missing something?

jimbo212 Oct 22, 2020 05:07 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

"As of September of 2014, roughly 50,000—or 62 percent—of [jail] beds were filled with inmates awaiting trial or sentencing."


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