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School Parcel Tax Increase Will Vary Widely From House to House

Under a tentative new parcel tax structure floated by the Alameda Unified School District in an October 14th presentation, homeowners across Alameda, based on a sampling of individual homes may see their school parcel tax increase anywhere from 7% to over 300%

In an October 14th presentation, available here, the Alameda Unified School District presented an initial outline of two possible tax structures, one based on a rate of 31.7 cents per “Lot Square Feet” “Building Square Feet” in the parcel, and the other based on a rate of 12.3 cents per “Building Square Feet” “Lot Square Feet” in a parcel. At a recent AUSD Board of Trustees candidates forum, two-term Trustee Mike McMahon, who is running for his third term on the Board, predicted that the District would ultimately adopt a “Building Square Feet” tax structure, so that’s what we have focused on here.

Action Alameda News identified a sample of homes across Alameda, primarily by selecting from home-sale listings across a range of prices and neighborhoods in Alameda. In our sample, the home that would see the lowest increase resulting from a new parcel tax under the “Building Square Feet” structure would see a 7% increase. The homeowner facing the largest increase would see their parcel tax amount more than quadruple. We checked the properties’ building size and lot size through the City of Alameda website here and we verified their 2010-2011 parcel tax amounts via the County website. Here are the properties:

  • East-end This sample 2600-block Central Avenue 2 bedroom home is 1,058 sq ft on a lot of 2,556 square feet. Currently, the homeowners pay $309/year for Measures A and H, and would pay $335/year under the District’s tentative new structure of 31.7 cents per square foot of building improvements.
  • Gold Coast The owners of this 2,318 sq ft, 3 bedroom home on a 5,000 sq ft lot on the 1100 block of San Antonio Avenue in the Gold Coast would pay $735/year, representing a 138% increase.
  • Bay Farm Island Owners of this 4,062 sq ft, 4 bedroom home on a 4,824 sq ft parcel on Castlebar Place on Bay Farm Island would see their school parcel tax more than quadruple from $309/year to $1,288 per year, a 317% increase
  • BayPort In Bayport, a homeowner of the 4 bedroom home on the 300 block of Ansel Avenue that we sampled would pay $703/year under the new structure, a 128% increase.
  • Central Alameda On Benton Street, we identified a 1,782 sq ft, 3 bedroom home on a 8,305 sq ft lot that would face an 83% increase in their school parcel tax, to $565/year.
  • Central Alameda – Condo We wanted to sample a condominium as well, and identified a 2 bedroom condo on the 1800 block of Central Avenue in MLS listings. We could not locate the unit number in the City’s database, but the listing indicated that it is a 1,140 sq ft unit. We checked other units in the same building to verify that they pay Measures A and H currently. The annual parcel tax for the 1,140 sq ft unit would increase from $309 to $361, a 17% increase.
  • West-end We identified a 3 bedroom, 2,348 sq ft house on the 1500 block of 3rd Street on a 5,100 sq ft lot. However, when we went to check the County tax records for the property, there is no indication that this property is being billed by AUSD for Measures A and H – the amounts aren’t listed on the tax bill. (The owners may be seniors with an exemption, but they have would have to live in the property to qualify for the exemption; we identified two other properties under title to the same owner, one in Alameda and another in San Ramon.)

    The owner of this property would pay $744/year under the new structure, or a 141% increase over the current parcel taxes, if they were being billed for it.

    The house next door is a 1,040 sq ft, 3 bedroom structure on a 5,000 sq ft lot, and would pay $330/year under the new structure, a 7% increase.

The Alameda Unified School District Board of Trustees is expected to vote on a new parcel tax measure on November 30th.

This is a limited sample of the some 20,000 properties in Alameda. Action Alameda News invites readers to look-up their own property on the City’s website here and post their new parcel tax amount under the 31.7 cents per square foot of building improvements structure. The field “BldgArea” on the City’s report provides the number you need to multiple against 31.7 cents to arrive at your tentative new annual parcel tax amount.

7 comments to School Parcel Tax Increase Will Vary Widely From House to House

  • That’s new. It didn’t ask for a password last week, or through the weekend. Perhaps the City never meant for that web page to be exposed, and they password protected it in response to this article.

    Readers can try looking up their property in the parcel database prepared by AFT, available here:

    (This publication has asked AUSD for a detailed parcel database – one record for every parcel – many times, and AUSD has not provided one.)

  • anon

    (In)Access Alameda at work :)

  • Hot r

    I thought you thought a tax based on the size of the parcel would be fair? Would it be better to rely on assessed value?

  • Hot r – the article doesn’t say the increases are unfair, it says they vary widely from property to property.

  • Note that the second paragraph has been corrected – the District’s proposal was 31.7 cents per building square feet, not lot square feet as originally reported in the 2nd paragraph.

  • Hot R, as a senior player at AUSD, should know that a parcel tax cannot be based on assessed valuation, one of the few terms to prevent these end-runs on Prop. 13, along with the 2/3 majority, which helped defeat Measure E.

    If Alameda home and business owners understand how much they will pay under this new rate, they may be even more reluctant to write AUSD the next blank check, especially if there is no accountability this time around either. What is “fair” may not be “equitable.” But at least this time the Gold Coast may not get off so lightly trying to keep Franklin open.

    Without reforms, I’m not sure I can support any new school parcel tax, no matter how hard they grind that P.R. mill about “Excellence.”

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