It is beyond the means of readers of this column to buy all the real estate in Scotts Valley, but that doesn’t make the advice of the multi-billionaire real estate developer any less valid.
I wasn’t able to reach Zell to ask his opinion on Measure A, which, if approved by 55 percent of voters on June 3, will authorize the Scotts Valley School District to borrow $35 million for safety upgrades and to build a new middle school.
Property owners would pay $57 per $100,000 of assessed value every year until the loan is paid off in about 25 years.
Last month, I looked at the numbers. This month, I planned to ask local Realtors if they think Measure A is a good deal for property owners, even if they have no kids who will attend the new school.
But I’ve had second thoughts.
Local realtors might be reluctant to say anything negative about the plan because they don’t want to upset anyone in education-obsessed Scotts Valley. Being anti-schools in Scotts Valley is like being anti-garlic in Gilroy.
So I spoke with Realtors outside the city, who are less worried about ruffling local feathers.
“I can see both sides,” said Frank O’Mahony, a Realtor in Santa Fe, N.M., home to many retirees. “Why pay a few hundred dollars a year extra to educate someone else’s kids?”
In his previous job, O’Mahony worked for the state of New Mexico, recruiting companies to the state.
“We lost several relocation opportunities because the companies thought the quality of schools in New Mexico was not what they needed,” he said.
“Quality schools are part of the infrastructure that attracts people willing to pay more for your property,” he said. “You have to invest in streetlights, cops on the beat, roads and good schools. The cost is minimal compared to the investment in quality of life.”
Closer to home, Barbara Stewart is a realty broker in Los Gatos who recently handled a sale of a home in the Cupertino School District, where test scores are the highest in the region. The house was listed at $925,000, drew 56 offers and sold for $1.33 million.
Stewart said the exact same home three blocks away — which would be outside the Cupertino district — would have sold for about $1 million. She said she sees a similar situation in Los Gatos, where schools also have high test scores.
A few hundred dollars a year, Stewart said, is little to pay compared with the cost of sending a child to private school, where tuition can run $25,000 to $50,000 a year.
Even closer to home, Wayne Shaffer is a broker in Santa Cruz who owns property in Scotts Valley: a nine-unit apartment building, an office building and some commercial land with total assessed value of about $3 million.
He won’t have kids attending Scotts Valley schools, but he’ll be paying an extra $1,700 a year if Measure A passes.
“It’s a negative,” Shaffer said. “But having great schools makes Scotts Valley a safer community.”
He said he doesn’t plan to raise rents to offset his higher costs. High vacancy rates prevent him from raising office rents, and he doesn’t like to raise rents on families.
But, if one of his apartment tenants moves out, the new tenant will pay more rent, he said.
Personally, as a Scotts Valley homeowner, I’m not thrilled about being on the hook for hundreds of dollars a year in extra taxes to pay for a school my kids will be too old to attend.
But a new school will support property values and help keep Scotts Valley a safe and thriving place, so I’m voting yes.
- Mark Rosenberg is a financial adviser with Financial West Group in Scotts Valley, a member of FINRA and SIPC. He can be reached at 831-439-9910 or firstname.lastname@example.org.