The summer of the 2020 Assessment Roll

This year, Los Angeles County’s assessment roll has an added dynamic: the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sweltering hot days of summer are here and so is the most significant item I do as your assessor: the 2020 Assessment Roll.

Some may be scratching their head and wondering what is the Assessment Roll?

Others are more than familiar with the comprehensive tally that values more than 2.5 million real estate parcels in Los Angeles County that results in the very tax dollars that go to pay for vital public services, such as police, fire, schools and even librarians, to name just a few. 

Last year’s Assessment Roll came in at nearly $1.7 trillion, which put $17 billion in the hands of the county — to be used for those public services I just mentioned. This year, the roll has an added dynamic: the COVID-19 pandemic. 

When the pandemic hit and we were all put under quarantine as required by the “Safer At Home” protocols, my force of nearly 1,400 employees went into a massive teleworking mode of operations. We have 85% to 95% of our workforce teleworking and the transition has proved challenging.

“The Roll” as it is known, contains the assessed value of all real estate and business personal property in the County’s 88 cities along with the unincorporated areas. It also breaks down the number of single-family residential homes, apartments and commercial-industrial parcels.

Last year, the roll countywide consisted of 2,376,551 taxable real property parcels, 177,212 business property assessments, 27,720 boats and 3,114 aircraft.

As an example, Santa Clarita had an assessed value of $35.1 billion for 2019 that included 62,331 single-family homes, 491 apartments and 4,678 commercial-industrial parcels. That’s 67,500 total parcels. 

That was a 7.8% increase over 2018, which came in at $32.6 billion and put Santa Clarita as the fifth-highest valued city in the county. The highest was Los Angeles at $652.916 billion. 

Again for the 2019 Assessment Roll, the hardworking and dedicated staff of the Assessor’s Office processed 325,000 deeds, assessed more than 120,000 transfers, enrolled over 71,000 new construction, reviewed about 91,000 decline-in-value parcels, and prepared more than 26,000 Assessment Appeals Board cases.

Moreover, in 2019 alone assessor business personal property staff canvassed more than 38,000 business locations and processed nearly 124,000 property statements. 

All this effort goes into the Assessment Roll that is the foundation of Los Angeles County’s property tax system. Local property taxes are generated based upon the Roll and are used to fund critical local government services, as mentioned earlier but deserves repeating, including education, public safety, infrastructure improvements (filling potholes) and, now more than ever, public health services.

The 2020 Assessment Roll will be released in the coming months and, yes, you can expect it will be affected by this unprecedented health crisis. We will know more in a few weeks.

As we move forward during this critical time, I hope everybody stays safe and healthy. This is a tumultuous time in our history. No question about that, but as what has been said so many times before during emergencies that demand the best from us, this could be our finest hour. 

Los Angeles County Assessor Jeff Prang has been in office since 2014. Prang implemented sweeping reforms to ensure that the strictest ethical guidelines rooted in fairness, accuracy and integrity would be adhered to in his office, which is the largest office of its kind in the nation with 1,400 employees and provides the foundation for a property tax system that generates $17 billion annually.

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