Tag Archives: property

Selling state buildings now means auctioning our future

Just when you think things can’t get worse in California comes the worst fiscal idea yet from Sacramento – selling off landmark state buildings to plug a fraction of this year’s budget gap, then turning around and renting the space at a premium from the state’s new landlords.

The lame duck Schwarzenegger administration is pushing this scheme to drum up some fast cash. The plan calls for selling 11 state properties comprising some 24 buildings, including the California Supreme Court and state offices in Los Angeles, Oakland, Santa Rosa and Sacramento. A private investment group called California First LLC is set to pay $2.3 billion for our state buildings which, after paying off the outstanding bonds used to construct the buildings, would net the state just $1.2 billion.

But selling these buildings will actually end up costing California’s taxpayers $1.4 billion over the next 35 years, according to the respected and non-partisan Legislative Analysts Office. That’s because, after selling the properties, the state would then have to lease them back to house its workers – at nearly double the current cost of repaying the construction loans. This deal makes such little sense that the report done by the usually taciturn Legislative Analysts Office called it “poor fiscal policy.”

As the current Assessor-Recorder of San Francisco with a background in appraisal, I understand why the private investors are so anxious to ink this deal. They are getting both premium properties priced at the bottom of the real estate market and a built in cash flow from their state governments tenants. They will quickly recoup their investment through the rents alone. That doesn’t even account for the hundreds of millions of dollars in appreciation likely over the next decades.

The investors win. But the taxpayers are faced with a guaranteed loss.

Who would propose such a scheme? Certainly no person with even a basic understanding of economics or investment would make such a deal.

In fact it’s deal only politicians looking for a quick fix could support. Which is why Californians are lucky that concerned citizens have taken the case to court trying to block this scheme. And, they have won a hard fought, but still temporary, injunction against the sale.

These public advocates may have won a legal battle. But the fact that the scheme was proposed, advanced so far, and is still alive shows just how far Sacramento politicians will go to avoid making hard choices.

Our state is virtually bankrupt. But bankrupt ideas are not the answer.  

Let’s keep up the pressure so California can keep these valuable assets. And next time Sacramento tries to make this kind of political calculation, lets make sure they pick up a calculator first. These numbers don’t add up.

Modoc County Votes to Raise Property Taxes

A portion of Modoc County voters on Tuesday approved the creation of a hospital district and a parcel tax of $195 per year to save its bankrupt medical center.

The hard-red rural county (population 9,184) is the largest per-capita recipient of state spending. Their tiny medical center has been losing money for a decade, despite the county supervisor’s cutbacks in service and improper allocation of state funds intended for education and transportation.

The County requested a $12.5 million loan from the state after a State Controller’s audit revealed that the supervisors had misallocated… $12.5 million dollars. The new hospital district will generate $3.1 million per year and be governed by its own board, independently of the the County.

Modoc has 5,667 registered voters, Only 3,724 voters whose properties lie within the new district participated in the mail-in election. Turnout among those was 63%. The vote to create the district passed by 70% and the vote for the parcel tax passed by 68%.

Two myths have been busted in Modoc:

1) The myth of Republican fiscal competence, and

2) The myth that California voters will not tax themselves to fund government-run services.


ACA 8 in Assembly Appropriations Committee on Aug. 30

Upon the call of Chairman Leno, the Assembly Appropriations Committee will meet tomorrow, and ACA 8 will be one of the proposals taken up. I have no doubt it will pass the Appropriations Committee, but I expect Vice Chairman Mimi Walters and Doug La Malfa to tear the proponents apart

Regardless, it will still pass out. Whenever someone says that the legislative Democrats in California are too liberal (and in the case of eminent domain, they are), I say “no, they’re just partisans.” It doesn’t matter if a Republican makes an exceptional point on something, it won’t persuade any legislative Democrats

Reggie Jackson in Monterey

The Monterey County Herald Article in PDF format:


To sum up, Reggie Jackson (baseball legend) has proposed a hotel development. He has a year to try purchasing the land, and his agreement with the city allows eminent domain to be used as a last resort.

This would require people in 17 homes, 4 businesses, and the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church to relocate.

I’m sorry, but he should try to buy those properties in a voluntary transaction, and if anyone says no, TOO BAD! That’s what property rights are about. He could then send in thugs to force them to sell, and the government should be there to protect them from the thugs. Now the government is the thugs

Any sale made from this is a sale under threat of condemnation. It’s like saying “give me this piece of property for this amount now, or I’ll go in and force you to give it to me for this amount.” To say it only qualifies as a “taking” when the force happens is like saying a robbery only occurs when the gun is fired

5th Amendment “Nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” A hotel is not a public use