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Property Owners Contest Assessments

September 26, 1993

* I read with great astonishment the article ("Reassessment Is Tough for O.C. Homeowners" Sept. 13) where the Orange County assessor, Bradley L. Jacobs, was interviewed on property values here in Orange County.

Mr. Jacobs was quoted as saying, "The number of appeals has nothing to do with the quality of assessments. It has to do with the state of public confusion."

There is certainly confusion, Mr. Jacobs, but I do not feel it is totally with the public.

I own two properties in Orange County. I have a house in Mission Viejo that is appraised at $188,000 and similar models are selling for about $168,000. My townhouse in Laguna Niguel is appraised by the county assessor at $151,000 and other models have recently sold for about $134,000.

I have appealed both appraisals, but not because I am confused.

I have done so because the "very careful, very efficient" appraisals Mr. Jacobs refers to are not applicable in my case, nor do they apply to the vast majority of Orange County residents who have filed appeals. The assessor's office deals with abstracts while the homeowner must deal in reality. Therein lies the "confusion."

CARL O. HUBBELL

Laguna Niguel

* A cursory reading of your article "Reassessment Is Tough for O.C. Homeowners" might lead the reader to believe that the county assessor's office is merely a benign bureaucracy overwhelmed by a morass of additional work.

In fact, the assessor is using unconscionable valuations to increase the tax base and hence the revenue collected.

I recently purchased a home. The assessor placed a valuation on the property of $65,000 more than the sales price. This is 13.4% higher than the market value as expressed by the purchase price. No explanation has ever been given to justify this figure. When I deal with a private individual or business, I am prepared to take the risk that I may encounter an unethical practice. Government, however, has the responsibility to treat each of its citizens fairly. When it ceases to do so, we are in real trouble.

Needless to say, my appeal is pending.

THOMAS A. GRAY

Newport Beach

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