By Steve Levy
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About this blog: I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to the area in 1963 when I started graduate school at Stanford. Nancy and I were married in 1977 and we lived for nearly 30 years in the Duveneck school area. Our children went to Paly. We moved ... (More)
About this blog: I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to the area in 1963 when I started graduate school at Stanford. Nancy and I were married in 1977 and we lived for nearly 30 years in the Duveneck school area. Our children went to Paly. We moved downtown in 2006 and enjoy being able to walk to activities. I do not drive and being downtown where I work and close to the CalTrain station and downtown amenities makes my life more independent. I have worked all my life as an economist focusing on the California economy. My work centers around two main activities. The first is helping regional planning agencies such as ABAG understand their long-term growth outlook. I do this for several regional planning agencies in northern, southern and central coast California. My other main activity is studying workforce trends and policy implications both as a professional and as a volunteer member of the NOVA (Silicon Valley) and state workforce boards. The title of the blog is Invest and Innovate and that is what I believe is the imperative for our local area, region, state and nation. That includes investing in people, in infrastructure and in making our communities great places to live and work. I served on the recent Palo Alto Infrastructure Commission. I also believe that our local and state economy benefits from being a welcoming community, which mostly we are a leader in, for people of all religions, sexual preferences and places of birth. (Hide)
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Older Homeowners and Local Property Taxes
Uploaded: Apr 9, 2011
One of the main arguments in 1978 for passing Proposition 13 was that rising property taxes threatened older homeowners who were retired and living on a reduced income. While they might be "house rich", they were "cash poor" and thus might be forced out of their homes through rapidly rising property taxes.
But now we have reverse mortgages. I think the older argument no longer has merit for homeowners with substantial equity in homes bought 20 to 40 years ago.
These homeowners CAN access the cash value in their equity through a reverse mortgage.
I see no reason to give a break to homeowners who are both relatively affluent and sitting in a home worth 5 to 10 times what their original purchase price. We owned such a home in Palo Alto before we moved downtown.
Similarly, I see no reason to give tax breaks to affluent seniors like the ability to opt out of parcel taxes though, fortunately, many Palo Altans voluntarily pay these taxes.
This generational inequity will only get worse as more baby boomers retire and we have to fund services for children--who will determine our future--services that are currently under great stress.
If older residents are in difficult financial circumstances, I can, perhaps, see some merit in age-based tax breaks but not for more affluent older residents. We should be paying our fair share.
And soliciting the votes of older residents for taxes while telling them they don't have to pay or they won't pay much because they have Prop 13 protected assessed values doesn't seem quite fair either.
What is it worth to you?
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