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07/21/2010

One year ago: Alexander H. Pope

July 21, 2010 |  6:00 am

Alexander-pope Alexander H. Pope was the Los Angeles County assessor who was responsible for implementing property tax rollbacks mandated by the controversial Proposition 13. He died one year ago at age 80 of complications of Parkinson's disease at his home in Berkeley.

The debate over Proposition 13, a landmark property tax relief initiative in California, was a firestorm. Pope had only a few months on the job before it passed in 1978, and there were many questions about how it should be implemented. The Times described him at the time as on "the firing line."

His colleagues spoke well of how he handled the pressure. According to Mark Ryavec, who served as special assistant and then chief deputy assessor, Pope was the first assessor in the state to reduce property tax assessments on a systematic basis when condominium values declined across the county in the early 1980s.

"Instead of waiting for taxpayers to come forward and submit an application to have their assessed value reduced, he ordered staff to do a countywide review of all condominium prices, and in the end, reduced taxes on about 10,000 condominiums," Ryavec said.

Before he was country assessor, Pope was a lawyer, the legislative secretary for Gov. Pat Brown (1959-1961), a member of the California Highway Commission (1966-1970) and a member of the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners (1973-1978). After serving as country assessor, he became executive director of the California Citizens Budget Commission.

For more, read Alexander H. Pope's obituary by The Times.

--Michael Farr

Photo: Alexander H. Pope speaks at a news conference. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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