If you own a home or other property in California, property taxes are a fact of life. The state law enforces taxation on all property that is not deemed exempt. Taxes are used to provide services to residents in the county, like Los Angeles County. These services consist of police, fire, education, parks, and more.
The Impact of Prop 13
In California, Proposition (Prop) 13 dictates that property taxes cannot exceed 1% of the assessed value of a property. Property is assessed based on the purchase value of a home initially. Assessment updates are typically made when a home changes ownership or when additions are made to the home and surrounding property.
While a general 1% property tax is the maximum allowable in California, voters decide on special taxation based on where they live. While some areas of California see a tax rate under 1%, some pay more based on their location and special taxes approved by voters.
Prop 13 also dictates that the assessed value of a home cannot increase by more than 2% in a year. This was an incredibly impactful decision in the 1970s, as assessments were increasing faster than the incomes of homeowners.
Property Tax Variations
With Long Beach, Lakewood, and Signal Hill all residing so closely, why are there discrepancies in property tax rates? Simply put, it depends on what each city has decided to add to the general 1% tax levy.
For instance, if voters in Lakewood approve a local property tax rate of 1.5 cents per square foot to pay for upkeep on parks while Long Beach approves a measure allowing 1.3 cents per square foot, then the tax rate could be higher in Lakewood.
Property tax rates can change frequently, depending on the measures voted on during voting cycles. Thus, it is challenging to nail down a consistent number for each area. On average, people are paying around 1.2 to 1.5% in the Long Beach, Lakewood, and Signal Hill, California area.