Make no mistake about it. Santa Barbara County Supervisors Greg Hart, Das Williams and Joan Hartman represent government, not the people.
In the throes of one of the worst economic crises in the history of America, they are campaigning for Prop. 15, the largest tax hike in California history.
Proposition 15 represents a humongous tax increase that could not come at a worse time for anyone.
Brick-and-mortar businesses have a hard enough time competing with internet-based businesses in normal times, let alone in a year when they were forced to close their doors because they were deemed “non-essential.” Now they will be facing sky-high rent increases as a tenant, or property taxes as a business owner, if Prop. 15 passes.
Most businesses won’t survive because their typical 3-5% profit margin in a good year is insufficient to pay this exorbitant tax increase.
2020 brought us the horrid state bill AB5, which eliminated upwards of one million independent contractor and gig-economy jobs. Then came the COVID-19 shutdown and relief bill, which cost our economy trillions of dollars in lost jobs and obscene levels of government debt.
Now we have these supervisors campaigning for Prop. 15, which will raise California property taxes by a whopping $12 billion a year, resulting in an estimated $72 billion hit to our economy.
The Santa Barbara County impact alone is estimated at $100 million per year, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost economic activity via what is known as the multiplier effect.
Proposition 15 eliminates the tax protections afforded both owners and renters of farm, retail, industrial and commercial properties by way of rescinding the original Proposition 13 passed by voters back in 1978. Proposition 13 caps property tax increases at a fixed percent after a property is assessed at current market value at the time of sale. Without this protection, most property owners will lose their property. Either that, or property values will plummet altogether.
Regardless, mom-and-pop business owners, including family farms, will be hit the hardest. That is, this measure doesn’t just increase the taxes on “buildings,” it also taxes “improvements” on farms including fruit and citrus trees, vineyards, irrigation systems, fences and barns!
Prop. 15, therefore, represents an unmitigated disaster for local farmers.
The progressive lefties on our Board of Supes should listen to none other than Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco and one of the most powerful Democrats in the history of the California Legislature, who said the following: “Millions of Californians are filing for unemployment and are at risk of losing everything. Prop. 15 will make the economic crisis worse by devastating small businesses — including our neighborhood restaurants, barber shops, and dry cleaners — by raising their rents. Vote NO.”
Moreover, let me speak to the big lie that businesses have been “free loading” since Prop. 13 was passed!
The truth is, businesses have been forced to pay millions of dollars in “fees” to pay for the impacts of creating commerce and jobs! For instance, locally, before opening, a new 7/11 convenience store would be forced to pay over $600,000 in traffic fees!
Finally, let’s be perfectly clear. The proponents of Prop 15 have publicly stated that they have a three-part strategy to eventually eliminate Prop. 13 in its entirety.
That is, if they can rescind Prop. 13 protections for farmers, retailers, industrialists and commercial property owners via Prop. 15, they will return with a second measure to eliminate Prop. 13 for apartment buildings.
After that, they will seek to eliminate Prop. 13 for residential homeowners, meaning every owner and renter will incur ever-increasing costs going forward. All this because in California, local and state governments have incurred $1 trillion in debt and deficits by way of their own misfeasance.
Andy Caldwell is the executive director of COLAB and the host of The Andy Caldwell Show weekdays from 3-5 p.m. on News-Press Radio AM 1290.