Renters belong in assessor's database

Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2007

I would like to point out to Skip Lundstrom (Sunday's Juneau Empire) that thousands of Juneau residents do not show up in the assessor's database.

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The database lists home-property owners, some of whom he might note, if he bothered to look, don't actually live in Juneau or at the listed property address. Renters do not show up in the assessor's database, even though they certainly live in Juneau and pay property taxes through their rent.

There are thousands of renters in Juneau who do "have a horse in the race" when it comes to discussions and decisions about property taxes, including more than a few who actually have kids who need school facilities.

According to the last full census, there were 30,711 residents of Juneau in 2000. There were 12,282 total housing units in Juneau that year, 11,543 of which were occupied. Only 7,356 of the occupied housing units were owner occupied, and 4,187 were renter occupied.

With an average citywide household size of 2.6 people, more than one-third of the residents of Juneau in 2000 were renters and therefore would not show up in the assessor's database.

Does Lundstrom propose that more than one-third of the population of Juneau should have no voice in matters of the city, just because they're not property owners?

And what about those people who do show up in the database but don't live at the property they own? Should they have a say in the results of elections just because they pay property taxes, even if they don't actually live here, or maybe they should have more than one vote if they own more than one property?

Like Brown, whom I know, my husband and I are renters. Therefore, we do not show up in the assessor's database. I can assure Lundstrom, however, that we do pay property taxes, and that means we do "have a horse in the race" and an interest in what happens in this city. My voice, and that of all other renters, carries as much weight as his when it comes to the development of our community.

Rebecca Smith


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