Thanks to DOB for sending in this article about how Prop 13 is being challenged :

Nancy Feidelman wasn’t interested in a political discussion when she saw a solicitor on her Oakland doorstep as she was preparing dinner.

But after canvasser Erica Bleicher started explaining her organization’s campaign to roll back a provision of Proposition 13 that benefits corporate commercial interests, Feidelman opened the door, cut a check and wrote a letter to her Assembly representative.

Bleicher’s nearly 2-year-old, Bay Area grassroots organization, Evolve, is getting unusual traction going door-to-door talking about something that has been unmentionable upon penalty of political death for three decades: repealing parts of Prop. 13, the 1978 ballot measure that capped property taxes and set high thresholds for how government can raise taxes.

There’s no doubt how liberal this Grand Lake neighborhood is. “Obamanos” is written across one home’s living room window; a sign saying “We are the 99 percent” sticks in the front yard of another. But across the state, many other Californians – even some Republicans – are ready to talk about changing Prop. 13.

“This has been an issue that has upset the community for years, and the Oakland public schools are suffering,” Feidelman said. Nodding toward Bleicher, she said, “This seems like an immediate, local, direct way to do something about it.”

Evolve, as do some other groups, wants to close a provision of the law that deals with how commercial properties are taxed.

Under the law, an assessment is triggered only if a single entity owns more than 50 percent of the property – a loophole that many corporations easily circumvent, robbing the state of billions of dollars in tax revenue.

Over the years, politicians including former state Sen. Quentin Kopp, an independent from San Francisco, and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, have tried to close this loophole. Ammiano intends to try again.

Today, the atmosphere may be more receptive. The presidential campaign brought a more intense focus on wealth inequities in the United States, education funding continues to drop in California, and the state’s voters are seemingly open to tinkering with the tax structure after approving Proposition 30 in November, which raised taxes.

“I don’t think the public is ready to go crazy on this, but they’re ready to listen to arguments that they wouldn’t have a few years ago,” said Mike Herald, a legislative advocate for the Western Center on Law and Poverty, which advocates for the state’s poorest residents.

“And if anything is going to happen, it is going to have to come from the public,” Herald said. “The Legislature and the governor are not going to be in front on this. They’re going to wait and see where the public is going.”

In addition to Ammiano’s move on commercial property, state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, introduced a bill that would lower the majority required in local elections to raise parcel taxes to fund schools from two-thirds to 55 percent.

That measure would have to pass both chambers by a two-thirds majority and be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown before it could be put before voters on a statewide ballot in the fall of 2014.

That will give organizations like Bleicher’s some time to rally supporters in areas of the state less liberal than Oakland. Evolve organizers believe they’re there.

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