February 22, 2024

La Jolla Tax Madness

Here’s some La Jolla property tax madness:

My brother sent me this astounding Zillow listing. Check out the property tax history. Is this one of the most egregious Prop 13 injustices in the state?


1890 Spindrift Drive in La Jolla: 5 beds, 7 baths, pool, overlooking the ocean. The owner pays about $8k in taxes annually based on a valuation (~$663k) more-or-less frozen in time in 1978.

Now it’s on the market for $22.5 million, nearly 40x the fake valuation used for calculating taxes. If it sells for that price the new owner will pay property taxes of about $23k per month, nearly 3x what the current owner pays annually!

Really drives home the perversity of this system. Also makes me wonder whether support for Prop 13 might be a little softer if people could see how deeply unfair it is. I mean, probably not. The Prop 13 monster is enduringly popular. But maybe worth a try? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

One idea: maybe there should exist something like an inverse of the (surprisingly garish, and not actually very informative) Howard Jarvis tax calculator. Jarvis wants to tell the landed gentry of California how much more they’d be paying without Prop 13…

What if recent home buyers could see how much lower their taxes would be if all properties were assessed at market values? That is, if we lowered the rate to whatever would keep total revenue constant. (Which isn’t how reform would or should work, just illustratively).