January Meeting Preview

Happy New Year!

The Club is kicking off 2014 with an important January meeting:


Club Meeting

6:00 p.m.

Zion Presbyterian Church
545 Ashbury Ave

Executive Board Reorganization

It’s time for the executive board reorganization. Sadly, we are saying goodbye to Scott Lyons as our Club President, Hilary Crosby as our immediate past President, Marty Suess as our Vice President of Membership and Jason Freeman as our Vice President of Media (although all of them won’t be far away). We thank them for their tireless service and dedication to the Club. Club members present at the meeting will be electing new officers. The list of nominations is below:

Executive Board Nominations

  • President
    • Carla Hansen
  • Executive VP
    •  Greg Lyman*
  • VP of Membership
    • Mister Phillips
  • VP of Media
    • Scott Lyons
  • Treasurer
    • Brad and Pat Craftel*
  • VP of Programs
    • Gabe Quinto*
  • VP of Publications
    • Carla Hansen*
  • VP of Records
    • Vacant


2014 Budget

The Club is closing the 2013 books with a $1,225 surplus! Club members will consider the approval of the 2014 budget. Please see budget overview on the Club’s website. The executive board is requesting Club members reauthorize the expenditure of funds within the proposed 2014 budget categories plus 10%. 

Upcoming Events and Meeting Topics

Club members will get a good look at the 2014 events and meeting calendar. Because it’s an election year, we’ll have special endorsement meetings and plenty of opportunities for precinct walking and phone banking. There are a few meetings where topics have not been finalized. Do you want a specific topic or discussion covered? Feel free to share your ideas at the meeting.

Save the date for our endorsement meeting on Saturday, February 22. The meeting will feature a panel of the AD 15 candidates and a few State-wide candidates will stop by. In order for your endorsement vote to count, you must be a full-voting member by January 27th.

Complete the membership form included in the newsletter or go to http://ecdclub.dev.haveabyte.com/ and become a member through Paypal.  

Congratulations to El Cerrito Councilmember Rebecca Benassini  and Scott Lyons on the birth of their twin boys on January 9!

Prop 13 Reform Gains Momentum

by Scott Lyons

In 1978, Californians passed Proposition 13, which capped annual increases in property tax assessments at 2% and allowed market-value reassessments only on a change of ownership. The proposition did what it was intended to do, and has held down tax revenues even as property values across the state skyrocketed.

The results have been dismal. Reduced budgets have forced local agencies to raise sales taxes, to run an endless series of one-off parcel tax measures, and to cut services. Our per-pupil school spending, for example, is ahead of only Nevada and Utah, according to Education Week magazine.

Worse, the measures enacted by Prop 13 applied not only to residences but also to commercial properties. And because ownership changes on commercial properties are very rare, the share of property tax paid by commercial property owners has dropped substantially as their tax assessments have fallen behind their market values.

Evolve-CA's chart of property tax payments in Contra Costa county.
Evolve-CA’s chart of property tax payments in Contra Costa county.

A new grassroots organization, Evolve California, is pushing for reform of Prop 13 and has begun making presentations to local government agencies and groups. According to their data, the share of Contra Costa property tax payments paid by homeowners rose from 48% in 1970 to over 73% in 2009, reflecting the decline in the commercial share. Evolve is asking groups to pass a resolution calling for support of “commercial property tax reform that will require non-residential commercial properties to be reassessed regularly while maintaining residential property owners’ protections under Prop 13.”

At the Oct 25 meeting of the West County Mayors’ Conference, chaired by El Cerrito Mayor Greg Lyman, a discussion about possibly scheduling a Prop 13 item on a future agenda drew a large and unfriendly crowd. Despite that, the mayors agreed to schedule several presentations on Prop 13 at their next meeting, Nov 21 at 8 AM at El Cerrito City Hall. Evolve will be among the presenters. The meeting is open to the public.

This is a great opportunity for ECDC members to voice support for Prop 13 reform and for splitting the rolls, as the Evolve resolution asks. There will be many attendees opposed to reform, so please plan on attending and adding your voice to those calling for fixes to this disastrous law.