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Smart Voter
State of California June 8, 2010 Election
Proposition 13
Limits on Property Tax Assessment. Seismic Retrofitting of Existing Buildings
State of California

Legislative Constitutional Amendment - Put on the Ballot by the Legislature - Majority Approval Required

Pass: 4,310,719 / 84.9% Yes votes ...... 764,423 / 15.1% No votes

See Also: Index of all Propositions

Results as of Jun 29 4:19pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (22894/22894)
Information shown below: Summary | Fiscal Impact | Yes/No Meaning | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Should the California Constitution be amended to provide that all earthquake safety upgrades be exempt from property tax reassessment until the property is sold?

Summary Prepared by the State Attorney General:
Provides that construction to seismically retrofit buildings will not trigger reassessment of property tax value. Sets statewide standard for seismic retrofit improvements that qualify.

Fiscal Impact from the Legislative Analyst:
Minor reduction in local property tax revenues related to the assessment of earthquake upgrades.

Meaning of Voting Yes/No
A YES vote on this measure means:
Earthquake safety improvements made to unreinforced masonry (such as brick) buildings would not result in higher property taxes until the building is sold.

A NO vote on this measure means:
Earthquake safety improvements made to unreinforced masonry buildings would continue to be excluded from property taxes but for only up to 15 years.

Impartial Analysis from the Legislative Analyst


Local property taxes are based on each property's assessed value. When a property is purchased, it is generally given an assessed value equal to its purchase price. As long as a property has the same owner and there is no new construction on the property, its assessed value generally remains the same, except for a small annual increase for inflation. New construction generally causes a reassessment if it adds a building, adds space, converts a building to a new use, or renovates the building to make it like new. The property's assessed value is increased to reflect the value added by the new construction. In contrast, the assessed value is not increased for normal maintenance and repair, such as replacing a leaky roof.

Currently, there are several specific exclusions in the State Constitution from the new construction rule. Among them are two separate provisions regarding earthquake safety modifications on existing buildings. The first one excludes earthquake safety upgrades on "unreinforced masonry buildings" (such as those made of brick or cement blocks) that are required by local ordinances. Such upgrades are excluded from reassessments for a period of 15 years. The second excludes from reassessment other earthquake safety modifications to any type of building and has no time limit. Both exclusions apply only until the property is sold.


This constitutional amendment deletes both of the existing exclusions and replaces them with a single exclusion for all earthquake safety upgrades. The exclusion would not be time-limited and would last until the property is sold. This amendment has the practical effect of removing the 15-year limit to the exclusion for safety upgrades on unreinforced masonry buildings.

Fiscal Effects

This measure would allow properties with masonry buildings currently receiving an exclusion from reassessment of 15 years for earthquake upgrades to extend this exclusion. It would also allow any properties with future masonry upgrades to receive exclusions with no time limits. This would reduce local property tax revenues to the extent that properties are no longer reassessed at higher values after 15 years. Many county assessors, however, have indicated that they either: (1) do not track the number of years that unreinforced masonry upgrades have received an exclusion or (2) classify these upgrades as maintenance or repair. In addition, many properties sell before the 15-year period is up, which triggers a reassessment of the entire property. For these reasons, the loss to local property taxes as a result of this measure is probably minor.

Arguments Submitted to the Secretary of State

Summary of Arguments FOR Proposition 13:
Proposition 13 makes a necessary change to our state's constitution in order to eliminate a dangerous disincentive for property owners to upgrade un-reinforced masonry structures in order to improve earthquake safety. This proposition promotes fairness by eliminating the unequal treatment of different types of property which undergo seismic safety improvements.

Summary of Arguments AGAINST Proposition 13:
No argument against Proposition 13 was submitted.
Contact FOR Proposition 13:
Senator Roy Ashburn's Support Proposition 13 Committee
P.O. Box 11444
Bakersfield, CA 93389
(661) 861-8100

Contact AGAINST Proposition 13:
No contact information was provided.

  What is Prop 13?

Video Overview

League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
  • Pros and Cons - a nonpartisan explanation of this state proposition, with supporting and opposing arguments. Also available in Spanish (PDF)
  • Easy Voter Guide - brief summary of this state proposition
Official Voter Information Guide

Secretary of State

Legislative Analyst's Office Campaign Finance Data

Secretary of State

Additional Information

From Other Organizations

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