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Rising Property Taxes
(The Story of California City)
by Stephen Seal

Another reason so many property owner are choosing to give their property back to the County is the alarming rate at which their property taxes are increasing.

A classic example of this is the City of California City, California. If my memory serves me corrrectly, this is the 8th largest city in the United States (when measured by the amount of land encompassed within the city limits). The population is probably only about 20,000.

If you own property in California City, you may already be aware of this, but the vast majority of the property owners who own property in California City do not actually live in California City. In fact, only about one percent of the properties inside the city limits even have structures (homes or offices) on the property. When California City was being planned, and when most people purchased property there, California City was introduced as the “next Palm Springs.” Obviously, this has never come to fruition.

One of the major problems that has occurred lately relates to property taxes. Because most of the property owners do not live in California City, they are not allowed to vote on important matters pertaining to their land. For example, four years ago, the voters/residents of California City passed a Special Assessment to pay for community services such as police, fire, ambulance, road maintenance, etc… The only problem with this Special Assessment is the fact that approximately ninety-nine percent of the property owners, who are paying the increased property tax bill, do not benefit in any way from the higher taxes. They don’t live anywhere near California City. And, not only was the Special Assessment passed by the voters four years ago, but last year residents of California City voted to extend it for another three years!

The Special Assessment has effectively doubled, tripled, or quadrupled the annual property taxes on almost all of the vacant lots in California City. Obviously, you as a property owner do not enjoy paying skyrocketing property taxes while you are not using the land. This alone has caused many property owners to stop paying the taxes on their property. Because so many property owners have chosen to abandon their property, rather than pay the escalating property taxes, the value of their land has fallen drastically.

A recent photo I took while visiting California City, California

What is happening in California City?

Well… ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. We are not purchasing property in California City because we expect a new freeway to go through the city, nor is a new shopping mall being constructed downtown. There is nothing happening in California City. We simply buy land in the desert and keep it. We are waiting for the value of the land to increase, maybe during the next 20-30 years. Please understand, we are NOT offering to purchase your property because we anticipate a sharp increase in property values in the near future. We are offering to purchase your property because we plan to sell it in 20-30 years for a profit.


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