For virtually any Californian living outside of key congressional swing districts, his or her vote will have the most profound impact when it comes to the suite of 11 propositions on the ballot for Nov. 6. Several are hotly contested. If passed, propositions effectively become law under the California state constitution. Thus, state legislators have limited recourse to challenge propositions.
Recently, I was able to find a handy online voter guide provided by the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), entitled the “Immigrant Political Power Project Ballot Recommendation.” As I perused the group’s Instagram account, I found a post equivocating U.S. immigration policy to Auschwitz. Frankly, I could write a whole column on just that, but for this piece I’ll focus on the ballot measures at hand. Let’s review a couple of the one-liners CHIRLA has provided on the propositions to get a gauge of how they stand on the issues; then, I’ll offer my take.
Anti-Proposition 5 excerpt: “Tax break for homeowners over 55 buying expensive houses”
My take: This claim is wildly off-base. Many seniors in California are trapped in homes that have rapidly appreciated over the past 25 years; this proposition would free them from the excessive tax burdens of California’s property tax rates. Proposition 5 allows seniors to take their tax base with them to a home that is either the same, less or more expensive than they one they live in while maintaining their tax base (which is one percent of assessed value and which never accrues more than two percent in any year due to restrictions imposed by Prop 13 from 1978). Additionally, Proposition 5 would eliminate the ability of counties to block seniors from moving in with their ostensibly lower property tax rate. Many counties outside of the Bay Area and Los Angeles/Orange County had opted out, thus forcing seniors to stay in these counties. Imagine switching from a $500 + two percent a year accrual property tax on a home you bought in 1970 for $50,000 to a $6000 + two percent a year accrual for a $600,000 home you buy today – this is a 12-fold increase that would happen if a senior moved into a new home. Based on a quick inflation calculation, $50,000 in 1970 is approximately equivalent to $325,000 in value today. Most coastal counties as well as regions including the Bay Area and Los Angeles have seen such property value increases. Today, California has an average home value of $600,000. Seniors who want to move from a city to a quieter area, from a two-story to a single-story home, or closer to children and grandchildren will all benefit from this flexibility. To the left, however, any tax break is anathema, let alone one that helps society’s most vulnerable group.
My vote: YES on Prop 5
Pro-Proposition 10 excerpt: “Expands right to pass local rent control.”
My take: If you do anything this Nov. 6, vote against Proposition 10. It will only serve to deepen the housing crisis. Proposition 10 would allow local government to impose rent control on all residential units (eg apartments, condos, and single family homes) that have been restricted in scope since the Costa-Hawkins Act of 1995. Proponents of Proposition 5 are blind to the role of incentives – rent control of the type they desire will likely lead to the brakes being put on new residential units for years to come. Their preferred method of change from Venezuela to Vietnam is blunt trauma. Why build when you are guaranteed below-market rates? Construction costs are already extremely high in California, and the expansion of rent control will only lead to the deterioration of housing quality and fewer units built. This growth stagnation is exactly what California cannot afford. Proposition 10 is a classic example of impulsive policy-making on the left. Even Gavin Newsom, Democratic heir apparent to the Governor’s mansion, opposes it. Don’t fall into the trap of system one thinking by supporting Prop 10.
My vote: OPPOSE Prop 10
In conclusion, there is much at stake for California when it comes to voting on propositions. I recommend to do as I did, and research each at ballotpedia and decide for yourself how you will vote.
Contact Max Minshull at mminshul ‘at’ stanford.edu.