Around this time last month I was minding my own business doing what I do when someone sent in what can generously be called a report on some bands in the Bay Area complaining about Proposition 13.
Trivial stuff, I know.
The article, which was published on the San Jose Mercury News website on 12th of Marchcame with the charged headline, “Prop. 13 Offers Greater Tax Breaks for California Homeowners in White Neighborhoods.
After an audible groan, I jumped in, read the news story, and jumped to the report itself, titled “Burdens and Benefits: Investigating the Unequal Impacts of Proposition 13 in Oakland,” because that’s what I’m paid for.
I’ll cut to the chase: I found the underlying report pretty dumb – a perception helped by the fact that the report refers to Latinos as “Latinx” – and wrote a quick response online . You can find it with the title “Tax hikers hit new low looking for reason to repeal Proposition 13“, published on March 15.
I’m only writing about it in print now because the same story, with some edits, appeared on this newspaper’s website on April 15.
The featured report was produced by the Tax Fairness Project and the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association.
The report breaks down Oakland neighborhoods by majority racial group and compares what the average homeowner in those neighborhoods pays in property taxes versus what they would pay in taxes if Proposition 13 were repealed and their property taxes were based at their market rate. . Then they took the difference to calculate what the average homeowner saves in taxes.
Unsurprisingly, homeowners save a lot of money with Proposition 13.
The report notes that homeowners in predominantly Latino neighborhoods save an average of $3,098 per year in property taxes through Proposition 13 compared to if they had to pay taxes based on the current market rate. Similarly, owners in majority black neighborhoods save $4,587 per year and owners in majority Asian neighborhoods save $5,338.
You would think that would be a good thing. People save money. It’s good, no ?
But, of course, here’s the race bait: Homeowners living in — cue the grim music — majority-white neighborhoods save an average of $9,631 a year.
The readers of this are supposed to be all mad and racially resentful.
People living in majority Latino neighborhoods are said to be angry at the “injustice” of not saving as much money in property taxes as people living in majority Black and Asian neighborhoods, and people living in Majority black neighborhoods are supposed to resent people living in majority Asian and – cue ominous music – white neighborhoods and all three are supposed to resent – cue ominous music – people living in majority white neighborhoods.
“Low-income households may be getting a much smaller subsidy, but it’s still a subsidy,” the report reluctantly concedes, using the word “subsidy” when all that’s really happening is owners keep more of their own money.
If we follow the logic of the report, Prop. 13 is racist and bad and bad and unfair and unjust and inequitable and so in the name of being good and not-evil and fair and just and fair, Asian, Black and Latino landlords should lose their Proposition 13 protections in order to being able to pay thousands of dollars more in taxes per year.
It’s even more ironic when you consider that the report itself states: “Black and [Latino] homeowners are also likely to pay higher proportions of their income in property taxes.
So they just want to punish the people they claim to care about.
Awesome. Absolutely brilliant.
The report then pivots to lament how all that money saved by people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds robs Oakland City Hall of $400 million a year, abandoning the real purpose of repealing Prop. 13: Give politicians more money so they can give more money to special interests.
“If Oakland were able to raise this missing money, the city could invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the public goods and services that would help low-income Oakland residents the most,” the report asserts.
What amuses me about this is that the city government of Oakland is, objectively, a complete failure.
“Oakland’s elected officials have repeatedly made financial decisions that have left the city with $2.4 billion in debt,” watchdog group Truth in Accounting noted earlier this year. “That burden was $17,200 for every ratepayer in the city. Oakland’s financial problems stem primarily from unfunded pension liabilities that have accumulated over the years. The city had set aside just 66 cents for every dollar of promised retirement benefits and 12 cents for every dollar of promised retiree health care benefits.
Truth in Accounting ranked Oakland near the bottom (No. 64 out of 75 cities) in its assessment of fiscal health.
It doesn’t help that Oakland’s mayor is Libby Schaaf, whose most notable moment in leadership was her “brave” stance against what she thought were racist nooses in a park, but that a local black man actually said was just training equipment he and other community members used. Schaaf dismissed that, saying “intentions don’t matter” and calling for a hate crime investigation.
Yeah, I wouldn’t trust the folks at Oakland City Hall with the money they have right now.
So these lefties are stoking all this racial resentment so they can punish black and Latino homeowners with even higher taxes so that incompetent city governments like the one in Oakland can waste a ton of money.
Welcome to the left’s vision for California.
Yes, I’ll pass that on, thanks.
Sal Rodriguez can be reached at [email protected]