Mello-Roos Property Taxes
Special Property Tax Lacks Robust Oversight, Accountability
Here's a simple summary of how Mello-Roos generally works:
A developer who wants to build housing submits paperwork to form a community facilities district. Voters who own land in the prospective development vote to pay Mello-Roos taxes to fund roads, community buildings and schools. Because no one yet lives in the area, the developer is usually the only one to vote. So taxes are often established by a vote of one person.
(Rob) Gutierrez, of the taxpayers' association, said Mello-Roos tax rates can't be set based on a percent of a property's value, the way normal taxes are. That has led to some creative taxation. He said he found one Mello-Roos district in Santa Barbara that taxed property owners for the number of bedrooms in a house. That can be difficult to determine in a college town.
"So you've got this property next to a college, (University of California, Santa Barbara), and, you know, where do college kids sleep on the property? Probably anywhere," he said.
, in the Santa Barbara neighborhood of Isla Vista, changed its assessment in 2013-14 to charge $93.30 for every "room available for sleeping" within a home, according to Gutierrez' research. If you're wondering about the area surrounding the major universities in San Diego County, there are no Mello-Roos districts near San Diego State University, University of California San Diego or the University of San Diego. California State University San Marcos has several nearby Mello-Roos properties.
More commonly, Mello-Roos taxes are based on square footage or the property type, such as an apartment or senior housing.
first looked into Mello-Roos taxes in 2012 and 2013, focusing on the Poway Unified School District. That investigation uncovered
of special taxes by the school administration, such as renovations at the district offices and upgrades at non-Mello-Roos schools. ...
Over the next several weeks and months inewsource will dive into the data and stories surrounding MelloRoos. ... We can't look into every single Mello-Roos district in the county, so we want to hear from you about questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.
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The Untold Story Behind the Sweetwater Schools Scandal
EXCERPT: An investigation into the Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent eventually snowballed into a massive scandal that resulted in convictions for several school leaders and dominated the news for years. Missing from most of those stories was the small, devoted group of parents and community members who set the whole thing in motion.
"The culture of the district was basically based on retaliation, intimidation. Those are the two words that I can think of," said former Sweetwater school board member Bertha Lopez.
Exactly six years have passed since Sweetwater schools superintendent Jesus Gandara was terminated at 2 a.m. on June 21, 2011 following seven hours of closed-door meetings. ...
An investigation of Gandara's activities, as well as the Sweetwater school board and contractors by the San Diego County District Attorney's Office would last a few years and end in various criminal charges, including felony bribery and conspiracy. A couple Sweetwater leaders landed behind bars. ...
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