SF Assessor Phil Ting’s “Close the Loophole” event last night was a pretty big success. Turnout was exceptional with an overflow crowd at the SF LGBT Center’s Ceremonial Room. It’s clear that a lot of people are very, very frustrated with Prop 13. If you missed it, and would like to get more involved, here is the Close The Loophole website and here is the Facebook Page.
Phil Ting spoke for a relatively short time, maybe 15 minutes or so. He briefly explained where his focus lay, the split roll. Basically, the split roll would pull commercial properties out of Prop 13, and change the system for assessing and taxing those properties. Because of the way commercial properties are transferred, in small percentages at a time or by selling a whole company, etc., they can be transferred without being reassessed. Thus, the “loophole” to which Phil Ting refers in his Close the Loophole campaign. All in all, a splitting of the rolls would in the current fiscal year bring in about $7.5 Billion for local governments. It would not resolve the budget crisis in one chunk, but that money spent wisely could have helped us mitigate the crisis.
The key to this meeting however, was building a working group to begin the process towards moving past talk and into action. Let us not hold any illusions, messing with Prop 13 will not be an easy task. Business organizations will spend millions of dollars to defeat a split roll initiative, with some political folks suggesting that the No campaign for a split roll campaign measure could raise over $100 million. It’s tough to beat such a large and spendy No campaign, very hard indeed. The only way that happens is to a) have a substantial budget of our own and b) build a grassroots wave of support.
So, after Mr. Ting spoke, the group broke up into work groups to discuss important features of the campaign. I joined the fundraising group, and we went over ideas of whom to reach out to and how we could raise the kind of money that we would need to pass this measure. A coalition group had some good ideas of natural allies and an online organizing group worked on building support through the Politics 2.0 toolset. A policy group also went through ideas, both on the split roll and a further ideas that could be included in a package of reform.
After getting back together to share ideas from the work group, the group committed to reconvening in September. But, we’ll need to have more groups like this across the state. So, let’s work on getting similar events set up elsewhere. If you have access to a meeting space, and would like to host an event, let’s get that going. Feel free to post something here, or shoot me an email. I’ll do my best to help you organize an event.