Yes on 15! Vote for Nithya Raman for CD 4!

For our own mental health Kelly and I went on a bit of a news fast for the past week only to have that break rudely interrupted by a text late last night alerting us to a certain ‘rona infection going around a big white house on the east coast.

While Kelly was on a hard absolutely-no-news-in-the-interest-of-recovering-from-open-heart-surgery fast, I was on a lighter avoidance of the day to day news while (pretentiously, I admit) allowing myself to read the hard copies of the Jacobin and the Baffller that I subscribe to. I’ve found both of these sources to be thoughtful, nuanced and interesting.

But while the drama goes on with Dear Leader in that far distant city, I want to alert a few of our California readers to some important issues right here at home.

Prop 15
This week I phone banked in support of Proposition 15, which would close a loophole that allows large companies and land owners to avoid their fare share of property taxes. This loophole is a kind of the Trojan horse hidden in Prop 13, passed in the 1970s, that left us with a situation in which wealthy land owners are paying taxes based on outdated values. For instance, Walt Disney Studios in Burbank pays taxes on an assessed value from 1975 allowing them to dodge around $3.5 million in taxes every year.

Prop 13 was sold as a way to keep older people on fixed income from being taxed out of their houses. This is partly true, but the real impulse behind Prop 13 was to shift the tax burden away from the wealthy. I was in junior high in a public school when Prop 13 passed and watched my education get flushed down the toilet along with a lot of other public services.

Prop 15 would raise upwards of 12 billion dollars a year to pay for schools, parks and make a dent in the terrible mental health and homeless crisis we have here in this state. It would be a game changer.

The deep pocketed real estate interests opposing 15 have spread a lot of outright lies. Prop 15 does not apply to any residential property either the house you live in or any rental property. It does not apply to farms. It only taxes commercial real estate over $3 million in value.

Don’t believe the lies. Vote yes on 15 for better schools, parks and public services. The commons has been stolen away from us by large corporations. Let’s get it back.

Nithya Raman for Council District 4
The Los Angeles City Council is a cesspool of corruption and incompetence. We have a historic opportunity to elect someone who will make a difference. I’ve met Nithya Raman and she’s the perfect person to begin the long work of making our city more functional and bring real democracy to our city. For the love of God vote for her! If you know anyone who lives in sprawling District 4, which encompasses Koreatown, Los Feliz, the Hollywood Hills, Sherman Oaks and parts of North Hollywood, cajole them into voting for Nithya. David Ryu, the incumbent she’s running against ran as an outsider four years ago and has since decided to take campaign contributions from just about any large corporation that will dole them out. Ryu has also shamelessly stolen most of Nithya’s platform. Don’t fall for it. If he’s reelected he will fall back into his previous pattern of incompetence and corruption. He also was accused though not convicted of attempted rape of an unconscious person back in 2002. We need to show Ryu, and the rest of his colleagues, the way to the opulent exit door at city hall.

Those confusing initiatives:
Here’s my recommendations based on the suggestions of the local chapter of the DSA that I belong to:

Prop 14 NO
Prop 15 YES
Prop 16 YES
Prop 17 YES
Prop 18 YES
Prop 19 NO
Prop 20 NO
Prop 21 YES
Prop 22 NO
Prop 23 YES
Prop 24 No recommendation
Prop 25 NO

Staying sane under lockdown in the midst of the most unstable period of US history during my lifetime has been difficult. Phone and text banking for causes that I believe in, from the comfort of our home, has given me some sense that I’m helping, at least a little bit. So if you get a text for some cause that might just be me behind it. And, yes you can reply to those texts and have a conversation.

For other offices and local initiatives see DSA-LA’s handy voter’s guide. And join me in the DSA and let’s make this world a better place for future generations!

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7 Comments

  1. I have a difficult time voting for this when farming and agriculture is now going to be taxed at a higher rate. Not all, but most farmers are family farms not large corporate enterprises. This will cost us at the grocery store. There is a belief that farmers won’t be taxed. As I read the initiative farmland won’t be taxed differently but all improvements will be. Barns, shops, wineries, farm offices, etc. All the parts that together bring the food to our tables.

    I would agree with you that the tax code needs to be changed, but this initiative is a bad version of change and will have far reaching unintended consequences.

    • Hi Steve, According to Communities for a New California:

      Prop 15 exempts all agricultural land, making no change in existing laws affecting the taxation or preservation of agricultural land.

      Prop 15 exempts all farmhouses and housing for agricultural workers

      Prop 15 exempts farmers owning $3 million or less of commercial or industrial property – this exemption is in addition to the exemptions for agricultural land and farm housing.

      Prop 15 eliminates the business personal property tax on farm equipment and fixtures for small farmers and provides a $500,000 exemption on farm equipment and fixtures for other farmers.

      If you own farmland worth more than $3 million you are likely well over what the USDA considers a small farm even with the high prices for land here in California.

  2. How much of a burden do you think Prop 15 will be on businesses that are already strained under lockdown/reduced capacity that started in March? That was my main concern – that we’re going to see continued economic contraction, and costs for this change in tax code will be shifted from the property owners to the renters/business owners who might just up and croak from yet another straw.

    • As I see it not much. Only commercial properties over $3 million will be taxed under 15. To put that in perspective a very large commercial building just sold in our very expensive neighborhood for $2.5 million. A bigger question for me is what are the hidden costs of poor schools, degraded infrastructure and a lack of mental health care and homelessness? Right now a lot of the tax burden falls on the poor in the form of regressive taxes such as sales tax.

    • I guess I’m rather out of the loop with regards to how much commercial properties tend to cost! 😀 Thanks for reiterating the $3M point. Yeah, I think this is a good loophole to close. Thanks for bringing it up here.

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