EXIDE VERNON BREAKING NEWS: LA County tax assessor says he will review value of properties impacted by lead from Exide smelter weeks after announcing review of Porter Ranch properties
“I have deep concern for those affected by Exide’s contamination of their property,” Prang said. “It is my responsibility to ensure all properties are fairly assessed and provide tax relief when warranted. Consequently, I have ordered my office to identify any and all avenues to help property owners during this difficult time.”
Affected properties are thought to be in Boyle Heights, Vernon, Maywood, Huntington Park, Commerce and other areas.
Property and business owners typically need to fill out a form to request such a review, but Prang’s office will go ahead and pull up the assessment records to take another look, according to Prang spokesman Michael Kapp.
The decline-in-value review looks at whether a property’s current market value is less than the assessed value as of Jan. 1 of the previous year.
Any tax relief would not affect this year’s tax bill, but may affect a future bill, Kapp said. There is also a possibility that depending on when the property was purchased, the decline in value may not be enough to result in a lower tax bill, he said.
Property owners with questions about the review can call the assessor’s office at (626) 258-6001.
Los Angeles County Assessor Jeff Prang said his office will review all of the properties affected by the Porter Ranch gas leak to determine whether property owners may be eligible for property tax relief.
Prang said his office is reviewing whether property owners are eligible for decline-in-value reviews or a reassessment due to misfortune or calamity.
A leaking gas well in Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon storage facility, about a mile from the nearest homes, has caused 4,309 households to leave Porter Ranch due to the sickening smell of gas and other health concerns.
“I appreciate the frustration that many homeowners are feeling that they’re paying property taxes on a home that they have vacated,” Prang told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “Businesses are also affected, confronted with a loss of customers and declining sales revenue.”
Prang said his office will take a “proactive and comprehensive” approach to review all properties that may be affected.
To qualify for decline-in-value relief, the assessor’s office must review comparable property sales in the area to determine if real estate values have declined. Prang said he has data from the month of January and expects that he will have a more accurate picture of whether market values have declined by midyear.
Under misfortune or calamity, a property must be physically damaged by a disaster and the loss of the property value must exceed $10,000.
Prang has the question is how to quantify damage caused by the gas leak. Unlike damage to a home from a flood or earthquake, the affects of the leak on a house are not plainly visible.
But he said there is no denying there has been some effect.
“Common sense seems to indicate that property owners have been negatively impacted in regard to property value,” Prang said.
He said it might take legislative action to broaden the definition of calamity.
Prang also said his office would be reviewing properties near Exide, the now-closed battery recycling plant in Vernon where lead-contaminated soil has affected about 10,000 homes.
In other Porter Ranch-related action, supervisors voted to send a letter to the governor and the California Public Utilities Commission requesting that any money from fines levied against SoCalGas due to the leak be earmarked to mitigate the impacts in the affected communities.
The board also voted to direct its legislative advocates in Washington, D.C., to support legislation to be proposed by California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein to direct a federal review of the cause and response of the gas leak.