Last fall, the real estate website Trulia released a report on California’s Proposition 13, the 1978 voter initiative that reduced property taxes and set a cap on annual increases. Using tax records, census information and its own data, Trulia found that Prop. 13 benefited longtime residents of affluent towns the most.

The main provisions in the initiative set the tax rate at 1 percent, allow for a property’s value to be reassessed when it is sold and cap annual increases at 2 percent. But statewide, property values have increased an average of 9.5 percent per year, which incentivizes people to stay in their homes, by paying an effective tax rate below 1 percent of the new value of their homes.

Here’s how Trulia sums it up:

“The more prices appreciate in a community, the lower effective property tax rates become, which in turn, provided incentives for existing homeowners to stay put. Cities with more new housing growth, on the other hand, will likely have higher effective tax rates because a larger share of new residents and thus more properties recently assessed at current market value.”

How’d North County fare?

According to the site, the communities paying the highest effective tax rate are San Marcos, at 1 percent, with a median home value of $483,000, followed by Ramona (0.9 percent, $434,000), Carlsbad (0.8 percent, $692,000) and Vista (0.8 percent, $436,000).

The communities with the lowest rates are Solana Beach (0.6 percent, $1.07 million), and Encinitas (0.6 percent, $792,000).

In a report on affordable housing, KPBS found that Vista and San Marcos were by and large leading North County in market-rate housing production.

In the past two years, Vista constructed nearly 2,034 homes, while San Marcos added 1,007. The next nearest city was Carlsbad, which built 588 homes.

Mostly what it comes down to is space. As KPBS’s Allison St. John wrote, “One reason San Marcos had little trouble getting (a recent) project approved is there are no older neighborhoods nearby to object to the 60 new families who have moved in.”

The contrasts with places like Encinitas, where voters rejected a plan that would have resulted in greater density in the largely built-out city, and Solana Beach, which has been trying for years to build an affordable housing project.

Affordable Homes Ain’t What They Used to Be

The same cities that have built the most homes are also building the most affordable ones too, according to KPBS.

San Marcos and Vista led, with 184 and 137 affordable units built since 2014, respectively.

And as St. John reports, these aren’t the cheap, blighted properties many people think of when they hear “affordable housing.” They include the fixtures and amenities you might expect at luxury apartments.

“Take the Promenade at Creekside, a new apartment complex with more than 60 units in downtown San Marcos … Like many new affordable housing complexes, the Promenade at Creekside has amenities you might normally expect in a luxury condo complex: a workout room, a small theater, a pool and a playground,” St. John writes.

While building affordable housing is often less profitable for developers, the projects come with tax subsidies, and take advantage of long waiting lists for affordable housing, which virtually guarantees tenants for years.

Introducing the Concerned Coastal Communities Coalition

Del Mar, Carlsbad and Oceanside are joining a larger body of Orange County cities to form a group known as the Concerned Coastal Communities Coalition.

The coalition’s primary goal is to focus on getting spent fuel out of San Onofre, but it’s also discussed funding for maintaining beaches, and regulating short-term vacation rentals and sober living homes.

Short-term vacation rentals have long been a headache in coastal cities, but there’s been growing talk about regulating sober-living homes, which are protected under federal law. Residents often object to sober-living homes for the same reason they do apartments: traffic, density and transient people who they believe bring down the neighborhood.

Oceanside hosted the coalition last fall, and weeks later held a town hall to discuss sober-living homes, attended by Rep. Pat Bates, from Laguna Nigel, Rep. Darrell Issa and Assemblyman Rocky Chavez.

The group functions by building relationships between the cities, getting a consensus about what policy it’d like to see and lobbying state agencies, as well as businesses like AirBnB, which may not give the same attention to some of the smaller cities as it does to larger ones.

“Some cities have had luck communicating with (short-term rental companies), while others have not,” read notes sent to the San Clemente City Council. “Newport Beach has had conversations with them about their ordinance, while Seal Beach has been getting ignored.”

At its City Council meeting this week, Oceanside will consider paying $7,200 per year to Townsend Public Affairs, a lobbying firm that represents the group. The city managers of Carlsbad and Del Mar did not respond to say whether their cities also hired Townsend.

Also in the News

• Encinitas has picked the former mayor of Sierra Madre to fill a vacant City Council seat. (The Coast News)

• A Carlsbad city councilman and chair of the board of the North County Transportation District is bent on trenching the train tracks through Carlsbad. (The Coast News)

• Oceanside’s appointed city treasurer has worn many hats – including husband of the assistant city attorney. (Union-Tribune)

• Conservationists are suing the county over zoning in the Cleveland National Forest. (Union-Tribune)

• The expansion of Dunkin Donuts into Southern California is pushing out a beloved doughnut shop in Oceanside. (10News)

Ruarri Serpa

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

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