Bay Area Leaders Join Oakland Residents: Now is the time to fix Prop 13

Last Saturday morning over 300 community members, local organizations and elected officials convened at a packed Town Hall in Oakland calling for reform to Prop 13’s commercial property loophole.

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The event, organized by the Make it Fair Coalition, called for a reform that would assess commercial real estate at its full and current market value, while keeping Proposition 13 for residential real estate.

At the event, State Senator Nancy Skinner, State Senator Scott Weiner, and Assemblyman Rob Bonta spoke about the need to reform Proposition 13’s commercial property tax loophole, which currently deprives California of over $9 billion per year in revenue. Richmond City Councilmember Melvin Willis and Alameda Board of Supervisors Member Keith Carson also spoke to the impact that the $369 million in annual revenue to Alameda County would have on local schools and critical services.

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In her remarks, Skinner argued that the Prop 13 commercial loophole “has denied our schools significant funding. Prop 13, from day one, was designed as a corporate giveaway, but it was sold as a protection for homeowners.”

Prop 13 has been at the center of damage, where California has gone from one of the best school systems to one of the lowest” said State Senator Scott Wiener illuminating one of the most significant impacts of decades of disinvestment due to the proposition.

Asm. Rob Bonta delivered a compelling call to action. “The time is now.  We’re in a special place in California. We are able to move an agenda that supports people, but we’re also fighting a federal government that does not.  We need to seize this moment.  A vote of the people will decide – do we want $9 billion to help with our affordable housing crisis, our health care crisis, to fund our schools and help everyone meet their dream of going to college? I think the resounding answer is yes.”

The town hall meeting was hosted by Evolve, League of Women Voters, Policy Link, Oakland Rising, ACCE, SEIU CA, CFT, CTA and California Calls.

View More: signed up to collect petitions in support of Make It Fair and recruit organizational and small business endorsers. The energy was electric in the room, with many declaring excitement about the growing movement to finally tackle what is seen as the third rail of California politics. So far, nearly 100,000 people have signed petitions supporting the reform of the Prop 13 commercial loophole.

You can watch a recording of the town hall here.

Six town halls are scheduled for September and October in communities across the state. The next two town hall meetings are on September 30th in San Bernardino and October 7th in Los Angeles.

Growing Momentum and Urgency to Make It Fair: Close the Loophole and Invest in Local Communities

18920903_1511664572210921_3711719096679288074_oThe Trump Administration’s plan to cut $2 trillion in taxes for the wealthy and multi-national corporations, vastly increase the military budget, and slash safety net, housing assistance and even Meals on Wheels is frightening and unconscionable. These “Robin-Hood-in-Reverse” policies—along with the ongoing efforts to dismantle the ACA—will present California with a massive deficit challenge.

The “Make It Fair” campaign to reform Prop 13’s commercial property tax provisions has new urgency and is gaining momentum:

  • Recent polling reflects deep concerns about cuts to education and health care —and shows higher voter approval for Prop 13 reform compared to a 2015 poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.
  • New research with 2016 data by USC demonstrates a significant increase of billions of dollars over the previously-projected $9 billion, due to rising commercial real estate values.
  • California Calls’ May 2017 Civic Engagement Program, which contacted over 82,000 voters, found the highest levels of support compared to any previous voter survey. A full 84.9% expressed support for closing the corporate property tax loophole to help defend California against Trump’s budget ax.
  • Over 75% of contacted voters also stated they were ready to take action to help reform Prop 13.

With over 25 organizations on the Make It Fair steering committee—including the ACLU, the League of Women Voters, the California Teachers Association, Service Employees International Union, California Calls, PICO, Courage Campaign, Housing California, PolicyLink and California Professional Firefighters, and over 250 organizational endorsers—we are pushing hard to build enough public support and pave the path to the ballot:

  • A series of Town Halls—in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Bernardino and Bakersfield—are planned for the Fall to build public awareness and to secure the commitments of local, regional and state elected leaders.
  • Over 95,000 Californians have pledged to take action to support MAKE IT FAIR through our online petition and California Calls’ Spring Civic Engagement program
  • Media outreach has launched—with OpEds in the Fresno Beethe San Bernardino Sun and the San Diego Union Tribune —with many more in the pipeline for regional outlets.
  • Senators Nancy Skinner and Holly Mitchell have agreed to co-sponsor a Senate Constitutional Amendment, with detailed policy provisions, already approved by Legislative Counsel for a future legislative strategy.

The time is now to MAKE IT FAIR. Click here to join the campaign.

Towards a National Strategy: Building Independent State Based Power

While the spirit of resistance is strong, inspiring, and seemingly more widespread than any we have seen in recent decades, we know that resistance alone is insufficient to reverse the grave threats we face as a nation.

Our movement’s responses have largely been about registering opposition to Trump, and slowing down or mitigating his agenda. Many continue to pursue a one-dimensional view of power: the election of progressive candidates. Without a focus on sustained, day-to-day, bottom-up organizing, this approach is insufficient to match the forces now in power.

Pushing back on the attacks at the federal level is critical, but we must also push forward through offensive battles that reflect our progressive values. Where we can move from defense to offense is at the local and state level. And, key to an effective national strategy is organized, grassroots organizing for state power.

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California Calls has been a leader in the launch of a new state-based Power Caucus to explore new strategies to expand independent political power centered in states as the building blocks to a national strategy. Currently, 20 state-based efforts across 13 states, along with representatives from national networks and movement leaders, are active in the caucus.

Our goal is to develop a clear and collective understanding of what statewide governing power might look like and how it can be built, articulate an alternative vision to the Trump agenda and the dominant narrative of our time and strategize about how to influence the national landscape towards a strategic long-term state-based power building approach.