Written by Sidiqa Atira
San Diego’s elected Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk (ARCC) Ernie Dronenburg Jr. and his team were able to accomplish some amazing things in 2020, even amidst the uncertainty, confusion, and lockdowns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. From providing wedding services, to opening energy-efficient buildings, and even saving taxpayers millions of dollars, 2020 was an impressive year for the ARCC.
In March the ARCC boasted the opening of the county’s first-ever archives in the ARCC East County Office. The county archive is the nation’s first zero net energy archive. The archives held in the building contain documents dating back to 1850. These documents include deeds, marriage and death certificates, maps, and other official records.
“The archives will offer county residents and other users the opportunity to conduct research and view publicly available documents, either electronically or by appointment, based on their physical condition.”
Along with historic documents, the office now provides an indoor and outdoor wedding venue deemed the “Marriage Hut”. The “Marriage Hut” was the only marriage location open when other marriage services were forced to shut down. The service allowed front line workers and the military to get married and made San Diego the only county to provide uninterrupted wedding services during the pandemic. And fortunately for the 26,000 newlywed couples that the Clerk’s office serves annually, the online marriage appointment system continues to make it easy for people to make appointments. The online system even won a California State Association of Counties (CSAC) Challenge Award.
Ernie and his team didn’t stop there. Homeowners saved $36 million thanks to the Taxpayer Advocate outreach program and the Exemptions team. Additionally, over 10,000 100% disabled veterans saved $14,000,000 and tax relief was provided to over 5,000 welfare institutions like schools, churches, museums, and other non-profits.
Dronenburg noted, “The 2020 property tax roll highlights the genius of Proposition 13 delivering on its two key promises that property owners can budget for their predictable limited property tax increases that make homeownership achievable, while delivering government a reliable and predictable revenue source for funding key services, like schools and first responders.” Dronenburg continued “Without Proposition 13 many homeowners and seniors on fixed incomes would have seen their property taxes double or triple within the last few years causing them to potentially lose their homes in order to pay their property taxes.” Dronenburg concluded, “Thanks to Prop. 13, no homeowner should lose their home to unaffordable property taxes and no government should lack funding as Prop. 13 has insulated them from the current Coronavirus pandemic or the usual booms and busts of the capital markets.”
The ARCC also converted their El Cajon office into a COVID-19 testing site, won an “orchid” award from the San Diego Architectural Foundation, ranked #1 in California for helping disabled veterans, and recorded almost 1,000,000 instruments; a new record.