Gov. Jerry Brown hinted Thursday that if the budget talks with Republicans break down, the initiative fight that would follow would not be limited to Brown's plans to raise sales, vehicle and income taxes. He said he expects labor groups to pursue changes to Proposition 13, tweaking the current caps on commercial property taxes, if no bipartisan deal can be reached.
First the good perfessor (that killjoy McKenzie guy) gets some press accompanying his latest book, Beyond Privatopia: Rethinking Residential Private Government with early media accounts honing in on the book's suggestion that HOAs are unsustainable and could face extinction.
Now comes California Gov. Jerry Brown -- who has predicted a ballot box mother of all initiative wars (Brown prefers the term "war of all against all") -- as the state remains mired in a partisan fiscal standoff and unable to enact a budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. Brown told a gathering of 250 apartment owners and developers today that sacred political cows such as Proposition 13 may be put up for alteration by the electorate in this bellum omnium contra omnes. (The audience is notable given that apartment owners provided much of the support and funding for the successful 1978 initiative).
What does Prop. 13 have to do with HOAs? By sharply limiting property tax increases, the ballot initiative spurred local governments to find creative ways to protect property tax revenue while limiting services. As self financing privatized local governments, HOAs nicely accomplish that objective since the HOA property owners pay property taxes but require fewer services.
In the current economic/political climate, I'm betting voters wouldn't think twice about carving out commercial properties from Prop. 13's provisions limiting ad valorem property tax increases. If Prop. 13 is changed to provide more property tax revenue to California local governments, one of the major drivers of privatized local government in the form of mandatory HOAs could be reduced. And what happens in California (like the property tax revolt of Prop. 13) tends to influence other states.