This November, Napa County voters, along with all California voters, will be asked to approve the largest property tax increase in California’s history by approving Proposition 15. Join the Napa County Farm Bureau in protecting Napa county agriculture by voting 'No.'
The measure on the Nov. 3 ballot would weaken Proposition 13, the 1978 tax-reform measure that limits property tax increases, by establishing a “split-roll” tax that would reassess commercial and industrial property, including agricultural facilities and permanent crops.
Voters should be aware: Creating a new split-roll tax with Proposition 15 would result in the largest property tax increase in state history—and would likely mean the end for more multigenerational Napa county ag businesses. This $11.5 billion tax increase on California businesses would come at a time when California farms, ranches and agricultural businesses could lose up to $8.6 billion this year alone due to COVID-19.
Backers of Proposition 15 have tried to claim it exempts agriculture. But make no mistake: Agriculture is not exempt.
The initiative says it exempts agricultural land—but it would raise taxes on what is considered “real property,” such as improvements or fixtures. Even state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in the initiative’s ballot summary, acknowledges that only agricultural lands would be protected from tax increases.
So, what property would be reassessed? Improvements and fixtures liable for tax increases would include barns; mature fruit and nut trees; producing vineyards; wineries; irrigation systems; even solar panels. You could also add processing facilities, machinery garages, and crush facilities—all considered commercial and industrial property under the measure—to the list of property that would be reassessed.
This isn’t just the opinion of Farm Bureau and other opponents. Backers of Proposition 15 acknowledged as much in an “Agricultural Land Fact Sheet” they distributed last February.
Proposition 15 would severely undermine the enormous investments agriculture has made to add value to our commodities. In other words, the improvements farmers and ranchers have made in the last 40 years, whether for product marketability or environmental stewardship, would be exposed to a property tax hike under Proposition 15.
Proposition 15 would create a powerful incentive for local governments striving to maximize property tax revenues to rezone agricultural land to commercial and industrial property and deny variances for agricultural use of the land in that rezoned area.
The proponents concede, “If vacant land is zoned commercial and industrial, it could be reassessed.” This would increase the already powerful incentives to remove land from agricultural use and intensify land use decisions made solely on tax revenue potential.
Proposition 15 and its proposed property tax increases would not only make California agriculture less competitive — it would make our agricultural businesses less viable.
A strong bi-partisan coalition has formed to oppose Proposition 15, including former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown; former California Senate President Pro Tem Gloria Romero; Edwin Lombard, president and CEO of the California Black Chamber of Commerce; Jamie Johansson, California Farm Bureau President; Rob Lapsley of the Hoover Institution and others because they understand the devastating effects Proposition 15 will have on California.
If you want to help assure a brighter future for Napa County agriculture, join the Napa County Farm Bureau and vote 'No' on Proposition 15. Visit napafarmbureau.org/prop15 to join the Farm Bureau coalition.
Napa County Farm Bureau
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