By Jeff Prang
Los Angeles County Assessor
To say this has been a difficult year for everyone is an understatement of obvious proportions. Tough, tough year, for sure.
But there’s good news a plenty now with vaccinations in full swing and Los Angeles County leaving the most restrictive Purple Tier behind and welcoming the more open Orange Tier. Yes, we still need to mask up and practice social distancing but things are, indeed, looking up.
And so I come before you today to let you know we are in the final stages of fulfilling the Constitutional mandate and the most significant item I do as your Assessor: The 2021 Assessment Roll.
As I visited with you last year about this same time, some of you may be scratching your 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 goes to pay for vital public services, such as police, fire, schools, and even libraries, to name just a few.
Last year’s Assessment Roll came in at nearly $1.8 trillion that put nearly $18 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 1,200 employees went into a massive teleworking mode of operations. We had at any given time about 85 to 95 percent of our workforce teleworking. The transition has proven to be challenging but our workforce has risen to the occasion.
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 2,379,772 taxable real property parcels, 175,522 business property assessments, 28,581 boats and 3,052 aircraft.
As an example, Santa Clarita had an assessed value of $37.2 billion for 2020 that included 62,603 single-family homes, 492 apartments and 4,657 commercial-industrial parcels. That’s 67,752 total parcels.
That was a 5.8 percent increase over 2019, which came in at $35.1 billion, and put Santa Clarita as the fifth highest valued city in the County. The highest was Los Angeles at $695.947 billion.
Again for the 2020 Assessment Roll, the hardworking and dedicated staff of the Assessor’s Office processed 314,000 deeds, assessed more than 125,000 transfers, enrolled more than 71,000 new construction, reviewed about 73,000 decline-in-value parcels, and prepared more than 20,000 Assessment Appeals Board cases.
Moreover, in 2020, Assessor business personal property staff canvassed more than 382,000 business locations and processed over 130,000 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, include education, public safety, infrastructure improvements (filling potholes) and now more than ever, public health services.
The 2021 Assessment Roll will be released shortly and, yes, you can expect it will be affected by the pandemic. We will know more as the details are finalized.
For more information about the Assessor’s Office and the many tax savings programs we offer, please visit our website at assessor.lacounty.gov
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 1,200 employees and provides the foundation for a property tax system that generates $17 billion annually.