I don’t normally get long winded on political issues, and rarely find a school bond I don’t support. Until now. Proposition 13 is poorly written and will have severe negative consequences for RBUSD and districts like ours across the state. I’m sure the very large districts will do just fine with this proposition. Those with declining enrollment may not have a pressing need for construction – unless some of their buildings are very old. This bond measure has a double whammy that means that Redondo Beach residents will pay increased taxes to support this bond, yet the schools in RBUSD will never see any benefit – and get hurt by it.
First of all I want to clarify that this has nothing to do with the original (1978) Proposition 13, or the “split roll” modifications that are being proposed for the November ballot. Here’s the summary from the Legislative Analyst’s Office:
Sounds good, doesn’t it? But the devil is in the details and you have to actually read the full text of both the proposition and AB48 to see where the issues are. This was likely written for the benefit of the large urban districts like LAUSD, Fresno USD, San Diego USD, and Long Beach USD.
Let’s look at the issues.
Priority of matching funds
The first thing that the measure does is change the priority for funding projects. Currently, eligible applications are brought to the State Allocation Board for approval on a first-come, first-served basis. This means when RBUSD is looking for matching funds from a project we do (like building the new classrooms at the high school or Washington Elementary), we file forms with the state and wait. We are in line with everyone else. We have no more or no less priority than any other project. It’s just based on when you submit your application.
This will change. The new law would create a point system, awarding more points (and priority) to districts with both a lower gross bonding capacity (basically property value divided by enrollment) and high numbers of unduplicated* students. This means that districts with very large student populations, districts with large unduplicated counts, and districts with lower property values will have first priority at funding. Some of these larger districts have all three and will score far higher than smaller, urban districts like we have here in the South Bay and in the Bay Area up north.
Gross bonding capacity is calculated by multiplying the applicable school district’s total assessed value by the school district’s specified tax cap. According to the LA County Tax Assessor, Redondo Beach has an assessed valuation of $17.515 Billion. The law also changes the cap from 2.5% to 4%. That means that with a cap of 4% of $17.515 the gross bonding capacity of Redondo Beach would be just over $700 Million. Divide this by the slightly more than 10,000 students, and our gross bonding capacity per enrollment is about $70,000. Read the below section 17070.59 (a) and you will see this puts RBUSD at the bottom with one point for bonding capacity. The unduplicated student count in RBUSD is 18.3%, which gives RBUSD two points from 17070.59 (b) and zero points from 17070.59 (c) for a total of three priority points. Compare that to the at least 8 (or more) points the large districts will have.
Not only is RBUSD near the bottom in funding per student we receive from the state through LCFF, we will be last to receive bond monies from the state for upkeep or expansion of our facilities. If a mandate for full day kindergarten comes through while we are at our present level of attendance, we will be hard pressed to house these new classes without adding classrooms.
See below for the point calculations and the table at the end with as many hard numbers as I could gather. the hard part is figuring the assessed value of the property within the school district. I used the LA County Tax Assessor 2019 Annual Report for assessed valuation of LA, Long Beach, and Redondo Beach properties. RBUSD 100% matches the borders of Redondo Beach, but I cannot say for sure about the Los Angeles and Long Beach borders. San Diego Unified is a subset of the legal city of San Diego borders, and I was unable to find enough Fresno information for a direct comparison.
The above would not be quite so bad, but for the next whammy which eliminates or reduces developer fees for multifamily projects (see excerpt from AB48 below in grey) that are near major transit stops. Developer fees are used by the school district to fund the construction or reconstruction of school facilities due to the impact of the development within the school boundaries. This is why the district has not objected to the Legado, Foundry, or Galleria projects. These projects were to bring in millions in developer fees.
The bill would exempt multifamily residential developments (such as apartment complexes) that are located no further than 1/2 mile from a major transit stop, and reduce by 20% from specified amounts for any other multifamily housing developments from fees for the construction or reconstruction of school facilities. The Galleria includes a major transit hub, so that covers that for sure. A “major transit stop” is defined in law as “The intersection of two or more major bus routes with a frequency of service interval of 15 minutes or less during the morning and afternoon peak commute periods.”
Looking at the schedules, I see that the 232 line (Long Beach to LAX) that stops in front of Legado does have a few 15 minute intervals during the morning and evening commute times. That might be enough to qualify. The intersection of 190th and Hawthorne has two bus lines, and combined they may have a frequency high enough for this, but individually, none are 15 minute intervals. Does the above mean BOTH lines need service intervals of 15 minutes or less, or does it mean that the service interval for any individual bus will be 15 minutes or less?
Are the bus lines heading down Hawthorne and 190th, or PCH and PV Blvd major transit? If so, there go those fees. If not, then the fees would be reduced by 20% for these projects. Just these three projects combined account for close to $2 million in fees to RBUSD that is now at risk.
The answer we get from the proponents of Proposition 13 and AB48 is that we are rich. We can just pass our own bond or parcel tax and get the money from our residents that way. Not only will the residents of Redondo Beach be paying for this statewide bond measure, they may also end up paying extra for RBUSD facilities while not ever seeing any of the benefits from the state bond their taxes are paying for.
Raw Data from Assessor data for value and CDE for student information. Bonding capacity is assuming reported city valuation matches school district boundaries:
|Total # |
* Pupils who (1) are English learners, (2) meet income or categorical eligibility requirements for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program, or (3) are foster youth “Unduplicated count” means that each pupil is counted only once even if the pupil meets more than one of these criteria
See part 2 of my analysis, where I address the issue of equity.