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Davis, California

Monday, February 26, 2024

Seismic retrofitting in Prop 13 demolishes tax reassessment

The supporters of Proposition 13 believe the seismic retrofitting bill will easily pass into law on June 8 – for the safety of California.

With no official opposition to the bill, Prop 13 expects to make seismic retrofitting of all buildings accessible without property tax reassessments.

Currently, certain buildings qualify for an exemption from reassessment, but some buildings, such as those with un-reinforced masonry, potentially face increased property taxes after renovations to make buildings earthquake compliant.

Prop 13 would give property owners little reason to avoid a seismic retrofit, property tax-wise, supporters say.

Sen. Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield) has been working to pass this into law for many years and in 2007 passed a bill to put Prop 13 onto June 2010’s ballot.

“There was a fiscal disincentive for people to upgrade their buildings,” said Ashburn’s Capitol director Andrew LaFlamme. “[Prop 13] removes a dangerous disincentive that exists.”

For the safety of California, Prop 13 is expected to pass this June – especially after months of earthquakes occurring worldwide, said acting board member of the Board of Equalization Barbara Alby, who is a supporter of the proposition.

“It’s a public safety issue,” said Alby, California’s District 2 boardmember. “If this were not to pass, it could cause people harm.”

Rep. Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) also supports Prop 13.

“I support this measure because it will improve public safety and provide common-sense tax relief to those who need it most,” Yamada said. “Proposition 13 will simplify and establish a single, statewide standard for exempting specific seismic safety improvements from property tax reassessments until the properties are sold.”

At UC Davis, students may not be property owners, but they use and visit university-owned buildings all day.

UC Davis architect Clayton Halliday said there are some seismic issues with the main reading room in Peter J. Shields Library on campus. This summer the library, along with the Segundo high-rise dormitories will undergo seismic retrofits. Other campus projects have improved campus’ earthquake safety including renovations to Kerr, Briggs and Chemistry buildings.

At UC Davis Medical Center, facilities and construction manager Tom Rush said some areas of the hospital are non-compliant with earthquake regulations. The medical center in Sacramento will also improve its earthquake safety this summer as part of its on-going efforts to keep the hospital and surrounding buildings safe from natural disaster.

In terms of Prop 13, these seismic renovation projects mean UCD buildings are not subject to property tax, so the proposition will have little effect on campus and for the university after seismic retrofitting efforts, according to UCD Capital Resource Management officer Karl Mohr.

SASHA LEKACH can be reached at city@theaggie.org.


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