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California Proposition 31, Fire Safety Exemptions (1984)
Proposition 31 amended the "new construction" provisions of Article XIII A of the California Constitution. It did this by authorizing the California State Legislature to pass legislation to the effect that the term "newly constructed" does not apply to the construction or addition of any:
- Fire sprinkler system
- Fire extinguishing system
- Fire detection system
- Fire-related egress improvement
constructed or installed after the enactment of Proposition 31. According to Proposition 31, these fire-safety-related home improvements could be excluded from the property tax assessment value of a home as long as the home did not change hands.
However, at the point that a building to which such improvements had been made did change hands, it could be reappraised at its full market value for property tax purposes.
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- The construction or installation of any fire sprinkler system, other fire extinguishing system, fire detection system, or fire-related egress improvement, as defined by the Legislature, which is constructed or installed after the effective date of this paragraph.
Proposition 33's official ballot summary said, "Under the present provisions of the Constitution, real property is reassessed for taxation purposes when new construction occurs. Exceptions are made for reconstruction after a disaster and for certain solar energy and seismic safety construction. This measure allows the Legislature to add additional exceptions for the construction or installation of any fire sprinkler system, other fire extinguishing system, fire detection system, or fire-related egress improvement, as defined by the Legislature, which is constructed or installed after the effective date of this measure. Summary of Legislative Analyst's estimate of net state and local government fiscal impact: By itself, this measure has no state or local fiscal impact because it only authorizes the Legislature to enact a measure to implement its provisions. If the Legislature enacts implementing legislation, there would be an unknown loss of property tax revenues to local governments estimated to be less than $5 million annually. Implementation would increase state government expenditures to compensate local school districts government income tax revenues due to lower property tax deductions. The income tax revenue increases would be only a small portion of the property tax revenue losses."
The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:
- "By itself, this measure has no state or local fiscal impact because it only authorizes the Legislature to enact a measure to implement its provisions.
- If the Legislature enacts implementing legislation pursuant to the authority granted by this measure, there would be an unknown loss of property tax revenues to local governments. The magnitude of the revenue loss would depend, in part, on the definitions of "fire sprinkler system" and "fire extinguishing system" and other terms adopted by the Legislature, and the value of the fire-related improvements that otherwise would have been made by property owners. We estimate that the loss of revenue statewide would be less than $5 million annually.
- This measure also would affect state expenditures and revenues, in two ways. First, if the Legislature used the authority provided in this measure, the state would automatically incur additional costs since under existing law it must provide local school districts with funding to compensate them for any loss of property tax revenue that they experience. Second, state income tax revenues would increase because affected property owners would have lower property tax payments to deduct from income on their state income tax returns. The increase in revenues, however, would amount to only a small portion of the loss in property tax revenues."
Path to the ballot
The California State Legislature voted to put Proposition 31 on the ballot via Senate Constitutional Amendment 58 (Statutes of 1984, Resolution Chapter 56).