published on March 4, 2019 - 1:57 PM
Written by Gordon Webster, Jr.

Fresno County has about 2,200 land parcels valued at more than $2 million.

If you happen to own those properties for commercial use, or if your cumulative commercial land holdings total more than $2 million and you employee 50 or more people, split-roll is aimed squarely at you.

The March 1 edition of The Business Journal features an article written by reporter/researcher Edward Smith that offers a comprehensive look at how local governments and economic development interests see the new tax proposal, set to appear on the 2020 ballot as the School and Communities First Initiative (talk about loaded proposition titles).

To explain what this means. California voters passed Proposition 13 in 1978. The measure limits property tax assessment from growing no more than 2 percent a year. It was meant to keep people living in their homes as cost of homeownership spiked.

A split-roll proposal — long sought after by California Democrats — would remove those protections for commercial property owners.

Paul Dictos, Fresno County assessor, said if voters pass this measure, his staff would have to reassess 290,000 parcels in Fresno County, what he described as a “nightmare” scenario that would require 31 to 45 new personnel for his office.

That would cost between $3 and $4 million the county does not have.

Diluting Prop 13 protections is the slipperiest of all slopes, and would be short sighted for Californians. That’s especially true for inland California, where coastal cost-of-living refugees have been relocating their lives and businesses.

Instead of doing more to show how business unfriendly we are, California must change that narrative. Watering down Prop 13, and trying to stick it to business interests, is not a good place to start.

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