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What Would Prop 15 Mean For Retailers? We Visited One Of California’s Top Malls To Find Out

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Among the many propositions facing California voters this election is Prop 15, which can be boiled down to one basic question: Are commercial property owners paying their fair share in taxes?

The ballot measure aims to raise as much as $11.5 billion for California schools and local governments. It would do that by raising taxes on larger commercial properties — particularly those that have been held under the same ownership for many years.

Many tax experts say California’s current system favors older, legacy businesses while saddling newer property owners with higher costs. But business groups opposing Prop 15 argue there’s nothing unfair about the existing rules, which they say provide certainty and encourage long-term investment in California real estate. University of North Texas adjunct professor of real estate Marc Moffitt told us:

“This particular reform really goes to the heart of the issue of equity."

To better understand Prop 15’s effect on long-held California businesses, LAist visited one of California’s top malls. South Coast Plaza is an upscale retail center in Costa Mesa that has been owned by the same family business since the 1960s. While it’s hard to say how much the property’s tax bill could rise under Prop 15, it is clear that under the current rules, some parts of the mall pay much less than others.
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