Tuesday, December 1, 2009

City Fines Archdiocese of San Francisco $14.4 Million

The City of San Francisco is hard up for cash, so they’ve decided to steal it from the Archdiocese of San Francisco because they can – nakedly, in broad daylight, without the slightest plausible legal pretense. The Church is openly hated and condemned in San Francisco for its support of Proposition 8 and its defense of human sexual morality in general. The City can steal from the Archdiocese because the City needs the money and because it makes the citizenry happy to stick it to the evil Catholic Church.

Here’s some backstory from a previous post:

When you sell a piece of property in many California jurisdictions, including San Francisco, the seller must pay a rather exhorbitant tax for the privilege which is based upon the value of the property. It is akin to a sales tax on a home or commercial property.


The San Francisco Archdiocese owns hundreds of lots in San Mateo, Marin and San Francisco counties. The exceedingly vast majority of these properties are the lots which make up a parish plant, i.e., church, school, parish hall, parking lot, rectory. . .


The Archdiocese has historically held title to these properties under two names - The Roman Catholic Welfare Corporation and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, a Corporation Sole.


In December, 2007, San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer announced a corporate restructuring within the archdiocese and by May 2008, almost all properties in question had been consolidated under the title of the Archdiocese of San Francisco Parish and School Juridic Persons Juridic Property Support Corp.


Since this is not a sale or transfer to a different organization or person, no transfer tax is invoked and no transfer tax has ever been invoked in the history of the state for such a transaction.

That is, until City Assessor Phil Ting gauged the likely public reaction to an outright theft from the Prop. 8 supporting Catholic Church and realized it would not only be profitable, but popular. Last year Ting, unlike assessors in Marin and San Mateo Counties, decided to charge the Archdiocese a transfer tax on all Archdiocesan properties in San Francisco. This includes properties such as Mission Dolores, which have been owned by the Church since before there was a State of California or a taxing authority in San Francisco.

They are still owned by the Church. No money changed hands. Yet, the City is charging the Archdiocese the second largest real estate transfer tax in history, as if the Archdiocese were a real estate investor selling a profitable high-rise office building.

The Archdiocese appealed Ting’s decision to an appeal board which yesterday agreed to take $14.4 million from the Church. The Archdiocese will now take the issue to court. Archdiocesan spokesperson Maury Healy told the San Francisco Chronicle:

“The board members, all of whom are City Hall administrators rather than members of the judiciary, apparently faced tremendous pressure in view of the city's desperate need for revenue . . . We are glad that having exhausted the required administrative process we can finally proceed to a formal, neutral civil court forum . . . We trust that the civil court will carefully consider the applicable law, devoid of the sensationalism and politics that the archdiocese thus far has faced.”

Pray for the persecuted Church in San Francisco. This is just one of many assaults the Church has suffered there recently. Hat Tip to A Shepherd’s Voice who has more background here and especially here.