Fashion Valley mall in San Diego’s Mission Valley. Courtesy Simon Property Group

Preliminary election results Tuesday night show California voters split on the split-roll proposition to fund schools and government services with increased business property taxes. With 99% of precincts reporting, the no votes were only slightly outweighing the yes votes on Proposition 15.

The night began with a nearly even divide, but results showing voters rejecting the ballot measure inched up as the night went on with 51.7% of voters giving the measure their thumbs down.

Liberal politicians and public employee unions have long chafed at how the landmark Proposition 13 in 1978 halted regular increases in property taxes. This new proposition is an end-run, allowing commercial and industrial property to be reassessed regularly in order to increase taxes.

The proposition applies to property valued at $3 million or more in an effort to protect small businesses. However, most small businesses rent space in more expensive shopping centers and industrial buildings, whose owners will pass on the increases under typical triple-net leases.

Proponents say the state needs more money for education and government services, while opponents say small businesses already reeling from the pandemic will bear the brunt and residential property will be the next target.

— Staff report

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