Berkeley voters have always been very generous when it comes to taxing themselves, regularly providing the two-thirds majority required to approve new property taxes. But a citizens' tax revolt just may be brewing in the People's Republic. Residents who bought their homes back in the 1970s are sitting pretty thanks to Prop. 13, but there's a new generation of B-town homeowners who've paid sky-high prices for their homes and are stuck with huge tax bills to boot.
According to the city's housing department, 15 percent of Berkeley's single-family homes turned over from 1999 through 2003. The median sales price in 2003 was $560,000, and a small two-bedroom house in the hills valued at more than $500,000 owes nearly $7,500 in property taxes this year. That includes $225 for library services, but Measure L asks for another tax hike to further subsidize library operations. In all, Berkeley voters are being asked to approve five city tax increases on Nov. 2 -- three parcel taxes, a utility users' tax, and a transfer tax when homes are sold -- plus regional measures.
Click on the graphic at right to see how we compared property tax bills for Berkeley and Concord, based on Berkeley's average assessed value of $266,278. Recent homebuyers, of course, pay roughly twice these amounts.
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