It's all in the language. All you need to do is pick a good cause - schools, firefighters, environment etc.. say it would help (whether it will or not) and concoct a heart-wrenching tragedy that your prop will prevent to have the compassionate voters to pass it. Who's thinking of the chips that may fall at that time? Property tax increases are an easy solution in SF where the majority of renters are happy to stick it to "rich" homeowners without giving it a second thought that those affected might be their own family members.

Consider prop A passed last year to allow SFUSD to collect exorbitant amounts (over $200) in property taxes in addition to the existing school facility tax. The prop writers did not make any exceptions putting a heavy burden on everybody regardless of the situation or income status including seniors, disabled etc.

Theoretically, seniors 65+ can get an exemption, but must first jump through hoops and send in before July 1 a request on a form supposedly mailed out in May by the SFUSD. Many of them do not receive the form (easy to guess why...) and the excuse provided is: "They can hear about it in the news or remember or learn about it from neighbors"!

The property tax bills sent out in October already incorporate the additional charges and by then it's too late to file an exemption or even obtain the form required. This effectively entraps the most vulnerable forcing them to pay or lose their home.

The situation is even worse for disabled and early retirees, even teachers who were encouraged to take early retirement and accept reduced pensions saving the board $$$ in salaries and benefits, but who now must carry this ever increasing burden till the day they die. There is no recourse for them to change the status quo. Even the president of the teachers' union is not moved - why protect the disabled and the retired when they subsidize the young fee paying members?

The SFUSD set a hotline 415-522-6770 to answer questions and fend off complaints (last year the phone rep admitted having to listen to crying disabled individuals and other affected callers). The person in charge is Chris Almentrout, director, Development and Local Gov.Relations department (241-6121) If you manage to get him on the phone, don't expect compassion and understanding.

As one of the forum commentators observed, voters have been subsidizing schools for decades, but the quality of American education lags behind some of the poorest nations on the planet. How do they do it?

Moreover, Doug Caplan's "Redevelopment Boondoggle" in last Sun. Chronicle reveals how "more than 10c of every $1 in property tax collected in California last year - more than 4 billion - was intercepted and spent before reaching the school district". Did voters or those who endorse props know about that? Obviously, voters are too busy to read various props on the ballot, let alone inquire about those who might be affected. But the media endorsement authors MUST check these details before issuing their verdicts.

Why the SFUSD "overlooked" those who can least afford it? For the same reason the budget cuts target mostly those who don't have the funds and organizational skills to protest. "THE PROP PASSED AND NOTHING CAN BE DONE".

Why don't we have a flexible system to allow corrections of unfair "mistakes" affecting thousands or rules preventing these unintended casualties in the first place?

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Marie's Community Living Campaign Blog said...

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