Letters to the Editor
A Taxing Proposition
Re "Riches to Rags" (The Fly, Jan. 16): It is time for the legislators to visit neighborhoods to find out why the property taxes are shifting to homes that pay two-thirds of the revenue. In 1978 it was split 50/50 with commercial, according to the Santa Clara County tax collector annual report. Most of the pundits blame Prop. 13 for the state's fiscal calamity. In our neighborhood, state 10 percent and federal 15 percent capital gains along with the little discussed "Step-Up-in-Basis-at-First-Death" provisions, all work together to keep millions of California homeowners locked-in that would otherwise consider selling for a litany of reasons.
Why would an elderly couple facing $100,000.00 to $500,000.00 capital gains sell when they are paying only $1,900.00 in yearly property taxes? Besides, the "Step-Up-in-Basis-at-First-Death" allows a current surviving spouse at any age to sell all their assets free of capital gains. The $250,000.00 per person exemption has been far exceeded by millions of homes.
Is there a partial long-term solution to the revenue crisis? I've never understood why California has to react in lock step with federal legislation. Why not allow all seniors age 65 and older to sell their homes when they choose, free of state and federal (25 percent) capital gains taxes, similar to current surviving spouses? It would be fair, bipartisan, and wouldn't require modifying Prop. 13 which is apparently politically untouchable. Wouldn't it free up billions, maybe trillions of dollars over an extended period? Isn't this a quicker way to replace old Prop. 13 homeowners with new ones, instead of waiting for a death?
Re "New Power Generation" (Cover Story, Oct. 31): Just a note to recognize Erin Sherbert's efforts in writing the article. Ms. Sherbert did a deservingly commendable job in researching and reporting recent an incident in San Jose regarding the name "Little Saigon."
I have been led to the article via a Google search of the event. However, Ms. Sherbert's efforts and attention to details have certainly steered me into bookmarking your website and learning more about your organization and what your writers have to say.
Again—excellent job. I tip my hat to Erin Sherbert on a job well-done.
Sugar Land, Texas
Name Your Terms
Re "Pushing Limits" (The Fly, Jan. 16). "So if state voters pass it in February, it would give Mountain View Democrat Lieber another six years in the assembly."
This article argues that Prop. 93 would lengthen terms as opposed to shortening them, using Lieber as an example, but it does nothing to explain why.
I don't think articles like this should be published unless they can support their statements or at least attempt to explain the reasoning to the reader. I am extremely disappointed.
Take a look at our endorsements on page 15 for the lowdown on how Prop. 93 would affect term limits. Lieber's case was an example of how legislators who will otherwise term out will get another chance to run—which is a separate provision of the initiative—not of how their terms will be recalibrated.—Editor
Re Pete Sampras come to HP (Sports, Dec. 19): Terrific news! Pete has nothing more to prove to the world, but I would like to see him play in this event. I admire him more than Roger Federer. He is awesome and I love to see his "dunking shots."
Good SmitRe "Get Smitten" (Cult Leader, metroactive.com): The review catches the spirit of the movie (Smitten) and the essential spirit of what art is in an authentic way. It is sensitively written and reflective of the instincts of the visual world.
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