Finance Commission | Median House Price Surpasses $1.4 Million in South Pasadena, Churches Get off Tax Rolls

Of the top 10 property owners in South Pasadena, only two are based in town

The median price for a detached, single family home in South Pasadena during 2020 was $1,445,500, an increase of 9.23 percent from 2019, according to HdL Coren & Cone, the City’s revenue management consultant. And while prices have risen, the number of sales has declined. Only 100 houses were sold in 2020, compared to 120 the year before, HdL said.

Over the past 5 years, the median price has increased 16 percent.

Meantime between 2019/20 and 2020/21, the total assessed value of the city’s 7,045 taxable parcels (residential, commercial, and industrial) increased 5.5 percent, or $281 million to $5.412 billion. That’s just a little below the county-wide average of 6 percent.

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The assessment increase has two drivers, Interim Assistant City Manager Elaine Aguilar told the city’s Finance Commission on Jan. 28: allowable inflation adjustments under Proposition 13 and new assessments made in connection with property that changed hands during the year.

Prop. 13 allows for an inflation adjustment of up to 2 percent, she said. Just over a third of the $281 million city-wide assessment increase was because the change in the regional consumer price index hit the 2 percent lid. Aguilar said for the current 2021-22 tax year, the CPI is expected to come in at only 1 percent, reducing the city’s share of property tax revenue.

The remainder of the $281 million increase is due assessment adjustments. The biggest of these was the $10.4 million added to the rolls due to Greenbridge Partners’ purchase of the 2.6-acre parcel and office building at 625 Fair Oaks, where Greenbridge has been authorized to construct an 86-unit luxury senior housing a facility. Other big increases were WWNC’s purchase of the 35-unit residential property at 1653 Amberwood Dr., which added $6.6 million to the rolls; and Allen Apartments Investors LLC’s acquisition of the 32-unit residential structure at 635 Prospect Ave, which added $6.2 million.

Some downward adjustments to the assessment rolls were also made, including for two religious organizations, which are exempt from property tax. “They didn’t apply for their exemption so they got taxed, and now they are coming off the tax rolls because they should not have been taxed,” Aguilar told the Finance Commission.

One reduction, for $2.2 million, was for a “residential” property owned by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. There are several such parcels in town affiliated with the Holy Family Church campus, but the HdL newsletter did not make clear which one got the exemption. The other, for $2.3 million, was for the Rialto Theatre/Mosaic Church.

A $1.9 million assessment reduction was also made pursuant to an appeal by Jagatara Properties, which owns a parcel at 1020 Mission.

Greenbridge Partner’s purchase of 625 Fair Oaks made it the city’s top property owner, as the parcel now has a taxable value of $31.9 million, or 0.59 percent of the city’s total. WWNC and its management affiliate, WNC Apartment Ventures LLC, also made the top-ten list, with $14.5 million and $14.2 million, respectively. The city’s other top property owners — each with taxable holdings between $12 and $17 million — are: WF Property Holdings, LP; Gelt Storage 919 Mission LLC; DC El Centro Holdings LLC; the Jerry B. and Roberta L. Flurry Trust; LDW Pico Properties LLC, Casa De General LLC; and 99 Pasadena Avenue LLC.

Of the top 10 owners, only Casa De General and 99 Pasadena are based in South Pasadena.

South Pasadena generally gets a larger share of property tax collected by the county than other cities, due mainly to the age of the city. Of the county’s 88 cities, South Pasadena was 7th to incorporate. Even so, Aguilar noted, the city only gets 24 cents of every property tax dollar collected.

For the FY 2020-21 budget the city is due to adopt this month, it is projecting secured property tax revenue of $11,543,829, which is nearly $200,000 more than the adopted 2019-20 property tax revenue budget.

Despite the pandemic, property tax defaults remain under 3 percent, she added.



Ben Tansey is a journalist and author. He grew up in the South Bay and is a graduate of Evergreen State College. He worked in Washington State as a reporter in a rural timber community and for many years as an editor for a Western electric energy policy publication based in Seattle.