In 1978, California passed proposition 13. The amendment was supposed to stabilize the property taxes by ensuring homeowners that their taxes wouldn’t increase by more than 1% each year and keep Californians in their homes over rising property values, but the tax code decreased the amount of revenue that the local government collected. These new tax codes are exactly why California isn’t as liberal as one would think.

The effects of proposition 13 created a new host of issues. First, the amendment stated that your property taxes will be assessed at its original purchase price regardless of the current market value as long as the homeowner doesn’t sell the property or create new construction. This is why undeveloped land owners would rather sit on a piece of property instead of selling it. The property taxes remain low and the local government fees are astronomically high to build on unconstructed land. This is also why homes don’t exchange hands very often.

Second, local governments were earning close to 90% of their income from property taxes in the previous tax plan. Now, they are closer to 67%. In order to supplement, local governments now receive income streams from commercial businesses, so there’s an incentive to provide spaces to commercial properties over affordable housing complexes. Johnny Harris of the New York Times stated that if there is a new space available and it’s in between an affordable housing unit and Target, Target is going to win.

Finally, with those income streams down to 67%, the public schools were affected by the tax cuts, making it that much harder for everyone to receive a decent education. If a local public school in a poor zip code needs repairs or a librarian or additional funds, the chances are slim that they’ll be provided with any help.

This is where California democrats come in, right?. California has lauded itself over the past three decades as an overwhelmingly democratically run state. With lopsided victories at the polls, progressives should be able to fix these issues. The only problem is that they’ve tried. Last year the 2020 California proposition 13 and proposition 15 were on the ballot to restructure the original proposition 13, but failed. In fact, every time somebody tries to change it or add it to the ballot, homeowners come away saying NIMBY or not in my backyard. The message is clear. You can build a home and schools, but just way way way way way over there.

California homeowners say that they believe in housing and education for all, but they fail to show that at the polls like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. James Baldwin on The Dick Cavett Show and said, “I don’t know if the real estate lobby has anything against Black people, but I know the real estate lobbies keep me in the ghetto. I don’t know if the Board of Education hates Black people, but I know the textbooks they give my children to read and the schools that we have to go to. Now this is the evidence.” The issues raised by Baldwin are less about Black people than it is about Californians, but Baldwin is unequivocally correct. This is the evidence.

The lasting effects of proposition 13 have created a climate where buying a home in California is so expensive that potential buyers will be forced to compete with a large number of buyers and very few sellers. This is what creates a massive amount of inflation in the market. According to redfin.com, the average home price sold in Los Angeles, October 2021 was $909,500.

When home builders attempt to build new homes to alleviate some of that stress in the market, Californians voters will show up to the local council meetings and create environmental concerns about building new properties in their coveted neighborhoods. California homeowners have always held this ideal that they wanted a single family home with a grass yard and a pool, even though the population is getting out of hand.

Going back to the grass yard and pools, Californians aren’t in a position to have pools. The state resides in a desert and with climate change being a factor, the state has been getting 36% of its water from the Owens River, 52% from Northern California and the Colorado River, and 11% from groundwater. The state has declared that it’s in a drought, but the homeowners still want these illustrious pools over affordable housing and education.

With all this being said, California is not the liberal vacuum that most voters would come to expect. The homeowners don’t want anything to change unless it’s far, far away from tinseltown. It’s no wonder that conservatives voices call this state the liberal elite. With no end in sight, the rest of us will have to pack up for conservative Texas or deal with the unintended consequences.

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