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Proposition 19, titled “The Home Protection for Seniors, Severely Disabled, Families, and Victims of Wildfire or Natural Disasters Act,” was a measure on the November 2020 ballot that amended the state constitution to change the rules for how property is taxed. The measure began as an initiative sponsored by a trade group, the California Association of Realtors. That initiative was replaced by a similar measure passed by the state Legislature at the last possible moment before the deadline for the November ballot.

The measure that went before voters as Prop. 19 was Assembly Constitutional Amendment 11. It was first brought to the Legislature on June 20, 2020, as a gut-and-amend, which is a maneuver that replaces all the text of a previously introduced bill, thus evading the normal vetting process of noticed policy hearings and public comment. The new ACA 11 was passed by the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee on June 23, passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 24, passed by the Senate on June 25 and passed by the Assembly on June 26.

If the Legislature had taken more time to consider this measure and hold substantive hearings, people and the lawmakers themselves might have realized that it would have a devastating effect on families that suffer the loss of a parent and then face reassessment of family properties to full market value, losing “the Prop. 13” protection that had kept the tax bills affordable.

ACA 11, now Proposition 19, had two main elements. The first was expanded “portability” of base-year property taxes. Homeowners who are 55 years of age or older, who are victims of a wildfire, or who are disabled may now move to a replacement home anywhere in the state, of any value, and take the base-year property tax assessment of the old home with them to a new home up to three times.

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