EDITOR: I want to fix our schools as much as anyone, but before we raise taxes or add a parcel tax, let's look at Proposition 13. Having moved to Sebastopol four years ago, I can't help but feel resentful that my property tax burden is about the same as five of our neighbors combined. Because they have lived here much longer, their taxes are tied to values assessed decades ago.
It isn't fair to be subjected to additional taxes when such inequity exists. The premise for Proposition 13 — runaway housing prices and skyrocketing property taxes — is no longer true. Other states protect seniors by locking in their property taxes when they reach retirement age. With Proposition 13, we grant this benefit not only to residents but also to commercial properties, many of which have even changed ownership.
I'm happy to pay my fair share, and I'm not asking for a tax cut. I'm just asking for everyone else to pitch in at the same level. When there is equity in property taxes and the schools need more money, I'll be happy to pay more. But Proposition 13 is the elephant in the room, and it's time to address it. Until then, I'm voting no on Propositions 30 and 38 and Measure O.
JOANNE L. MUMOLA WILLIAMS
EDITOR: With the Sebastopol general plan update process about to take place, the coming City Council elections take on added importance.
What kind of town do we want? Sebastopol might want to follow the model of Healdsburg and Sonoma; their general plans favor local businesses and prohibit downtown drive-thrus and formula and chain stores. We don't want dead-end, minimum-wage jobs but instead jobs that lead to careers for our kids. CVS/Chase has none of that.
I believe City Council candidates Robert Jacob and John Eder hold positions most in tune with these ideas, and if they can join other progressive and visionary thinkers, we can plan the kind of future for Sebastopol that will maintain our cherished and viable small-town character.