By Jeff Prang
From the Assessor’s Office
It’s that time again that my Office undertakes its most important function of the fiscal year that lays the groundwork for the very property taxes that pay for our vital public services: The Assessment Roll.
I wrote about last year’s Assessment Roll in my last column. The Roll for 2020 has been closed, and it reflects solid growth for Santa Clarita and the rest of the county. However, the Roll is pre-COVID, and I will explain that in a bit.
First off, though, let me repeat myself from my last column by saying this comprehensive tally values more than 2.5 million real estate parcels in Los Angeles County and results in the very tax dollars that goes to pay for vital public services, such as health care, police, fire, schools, and even librarians, to name just a few. I am constitutionally mandated to close the role by the end of the Fiscal Year on June 30.
I am pleased to announce that the 2020 Assessment Roll has a total net value of $1.7 trillion, indicating the 10th year of consecutive growth. That value places $17 billion in the hands of the county to be used for public services. This year the Roll has an added dynamic, however, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Locally, Santa Clarita for 2020 came in at $37.2 billion for taxable values, which is a 5.8% increase over last year’s numbers. That includes 62,603 single-family homes, 492 apartment complexes, 4,657 commercial-industrial parcels for a grand total of 67,752 taxable properties. Growth is steady in the valley.
More importantly, that $37.2 billion translates into about $370 million for vital public services such as public safety, healthcare and public education for Santa Clarita.
However, these figures are pre-COVID and here’s how that works. Assessments are based on the value of property as of the lien date of January 1, 2020, which was a couple of months prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. Next year’s lien date of Jan. 1, 2021, will tell a different story.
We need to be realistic and although we don’t know yet for sure how next year will look, the pandemic has devastated the economy to levels only seen during the Great Depression. The reduction in sales tax revenue, housing market slow down and high unemployment is going to most likely have an adverse effect on the economy.
Moreover, when COVID 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 percent of our workforce teleworking on any given day and the transition has proved challenging.
Some basics: 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.
This year’s Roll comprises 2.58 million real estate parcels as well as business assessments countywide. That includes 1,882,121 single-family homes, 250,089 apartment complexes, 247,562 commercial and industrial properties and more than 205,000 business property assessments.
The 2020 Roll also grew by $95.9 billion (or 5.97%) over 2019. In addition to the values of the County’s 2.38 million real estate parcels, this total amount reflects $87.91 billion in business personal property, which includes boats, machinery, equipment and aircraft.
Since the Roll is the inventory for all taxable property in the County, it can provide some insight into the health of the real estate market. Although there was a slowdown in sales, there was continued growth in property values. The Roll is also driven in large measure by real property sales, which added $49.6 billion to the Roll as compared with 2019; the CPI adjustment mandated by Prop. 13, adding an additional $30.8 billion; and new construction added $13.4 billion.
Finally, as we move forward during this critical period I hope everybody stays safe and heathy. This is a tumultuous time in our history. No question about that, but to repeat 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. Upon taking office, 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.