Rodoni for County Assessor–Support Letter for Rodoni

The following letter was sent to me by long time friend, Robert Zigler.  He gave me permission to publish it.

I have concerns about Jon Brooks if he is elected County Assessor. Actions speak louder than words. He was an expert witness for an opposing party in a case I had that involved appraising approximately 920 acres of ocean front property near Petrolia. To arrive at a market analysis in his restricted appraisal, he used as a comparable sale, among others, a 324 acre parcel located approximately 20 miles south of Fort Bragg to come up with an opinion of value that was 74% higher than the opinion of value made by two local appraisers with a combined 70 years of experience who specialize in agriculture, ranch, dairy, farm and timber land. As many of you know, the value of real property in the Fort Bragg area has no rational comparison to Petrolia property whatsoever. It is an entirely different market. Fort Bragg caters to the weekend warrior looking for a recreational estate an easy 3 hour drive from the Bay Area. If I were a rancher or an owner of acreage, I would be concerned. The case was filed in Santa Clara County and Mr. Brooks was hired to prepare an appraisal for a client who would benefit by a high appraisal. Perhaps Mr. Brooks thought he could slip this one by a Santa Clara County judge, after all, the land would seem cheap compared to Bay Area prices. But Petrolia is neither Fort Bragg, nor San Jose. It demonstrated to me that, as a paid expert witness in a civil suit, he will apply the standards set forth in §11319 of the California Business and Professions Code, the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice Rule 2-2 (c), and the rules and regulations promulgated by the California Director of the Office of Real Estate Appraisers, in such a way as to support a higher appraisal when expedient. I know that governmental agencies are hurting for money. To what extent will a county assessor go and to what means will he or she use to achieve the desired result? I got my answer from Mr. Brooks. I don’t know a lot about Mari Wilson, but as Assistant County Assessor, all I can say is that I have had clients complain to me that the county assessed their property at higher values than those arrived at in the market by arms length, good faith negotiations. Again, I know the county needs money, but the status quo will not cut it if they are going to make up their own opinion of value and ignore the very definition of fair market value. I support Johanna Rodoni for Assessor.

Robert A. Zigler

Attorney at Law

Fortuna, CA 95540

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23 comments

  • Interesting. We are voting for Johanna because most importantly we know her. It is good to see a familiar face in our local agencies.

  • I have great respect for, despite vast political differences with, Mr. Zigler. But I wouldn’t judge a candidate’s qualifications for Assessor based upon a single expert witness testimony even if I thought the comp was inappropriate. And I can’t judge the merits of the testimony as I know nothing about the case, but I suspect that it’s very difficult to come up with any comps for a 920 acre coastal property, and while I don’t think a Mendo property (Albion?) would be a determinative comp, it would certainly be relevant in a comparative determination, and I doubt many urban “weekend warriors” are going to purchase a 300 acre piece – certainly not with the abundance of 20 to 100 acre pieces available and more suited to that use. I would think that the target market of such a large piece would be oriented towards a commercial purpose. There may be eccentric rich people interested, but they might even be more interested in Petrolia And I am not certain that Mendo properties in general are running that much higher than Humboldt. There’s certainly plenty of ranch and farm land in Mendo, even within the expensive areas.

    I’m not necessarily defending Mr. Brook’s testimony. All I know about it is what is in Mr. Zigler’s post. And of course I’m biased for Brooks. Just my two cents.

  • I have great respect for, despite vast political differences with, Mr. Zigler. But I wouldn’t judge a candidate’s qualifications for Assessor based upon a single expert witness testimony even if I thought the comp was inappropriate. And I can’t judge the merits of the testimony as I know nothing about the case, but I suspect that it’s very difficult to come up with any comps for a 920 acre coastal property, and while I don’t think a Mendo property (Albion?) would be a determinative comp, it would certainly be relevant in a comparative determination, and I doubt many urban “weekend warriors” are going to purchase a 300 acre piece – certainly not with the abundance of 20 to 100 acre pieces available and more suited to that use. I would think that the target market of such a large piece would be oriented towards a commercial purpose. There may be eccentric rich people interested, but they might even be more interested in Petrolia And I am not certain that Mendo properties in general are running that much higher than Humboldt. There’s certainly plenty of ranch and farm land in Mendo, even within the expensive areas.

    I’m not necessarily defending Mr. Brook’s testimony. All I know about it is what is in Mr. Zigler’s post. And of course I’m biased for Brooks. Just my two cents.

  • I originally supported Rodoni until her platform started talking about how she was supposedly going to improve everything. That ain’t gonna happen. The county is broke and only Wilson understands how to run the existing office on no dollars. That is fiscally conservative enough for me. It ain’t like they are fraudulently assessing wrong as it is. I like the existing system, it has been like this for years. My property is assessed right. What it could be off, a couple hundred? Fifty bucks? I could care less.

    Rodoni coulda got my vote at least just not saying anything. I voted for her for supervisor, she should run for that again.

  • I originally supported Rodoni until her platform started talking about how she was supposedly going to improve everything. That ain’t gonna happen. The county is broke and only Wilson understands how to run the existing office on no dollars. That is fiscally conservative enough for me. It ain’t like they are fraudulently assessing wrong as it is. I like the existing system, it has been like this for years. My property is assessed right. What it could be off, a couple hundred? Fifty bucks? I could care less.

    Rodoni coulda got my vote at least just not saying anything. I voted for her for supervisor, she should run for that again.

  • Until I had it corrected recently my property was 60k over assessed.

    I’ll be voting for Jon Brooks.

  • Until I had it corrected recently my property was 60k over assessed.

    I’ll be voting for Jon Brooks.

  • Robert A. Zigler

    In response to Eric Kirk’s post calling into question the factual premise behind my critique of Mr. Brooks’ appraisal, some more details are as follows: The appraisals were made in 2004 but appraised as of 1997 values. There were plenty of local sales to use for a comparative market analysis. My appraiser looked at 21 sales in the area. He chose the four most comparable parcels for his market analysis: 470 acres north of Blocksburg which sold for $885 per acre, 650 acres in the Mattole Valley that sold for $515 per acre, 980 acres in about 4 miles southeast of Ferndale, which sold for 735 per acre and 1042 acres in Maple Creek that sold for $625 per acre to arrive at a value of $783 per acre after deducting for the improvements [$860 with improvements]. My main appraiser’s work was reviewed by another local appraiser with 35 years experience specializing in ranch land whose impartial analysis was thoroughly critiqued in a lengthy deposition and who had appraised the property on 4 separate occasions since 1993 . On the other hand, Mr. Brooks looked at 4 local properties but most significantly he use a Fort Bragg parcel which sold for $4,548 per acre. [Yes, the Fort Bragg market is vastly different from Humboldt county.] Mr. Brooks arrived at a land value of $1,400 per acre. The improvements were valued similarly. And as I said previously, he came up with a value 74% higher than the two local experts. Mr. Brooks’ specialty is residential and commercial, not ranch land and acreage. Personally, i was appalled that he would use Fort Bragg property. That is precisely why I felt compelled to comment. I have nothing but good about Mr. Brooks from other appraisers. but my whole point is that, when it was expedient, in this particular case, he went to great lengths to support his high value appraisal, even delving into a completely different market. I do not question Mr. Brook’s qualifications, but I know the county needs money. Will he do the same thing again? With that said, I also respect the opinions of Mr. Kirk. We shall agree to disagree on this one.

  • Robert A. Zigler

    In response to Eric Kirk’s post calling into question the factual premise behind my critique of Mr. Brooks’ appraisal, some more details are as follows: The appraisals were made in 2004 but appraised as of 1997 values. There were plenty of local sales to use for a comparative market analysis. My appraiser looked at 21 sales in the area. He chose the four most comparable parcels for his market analysis: 470 acres north of Blocksburg which sold for $885 per acre, 650 acres in the Mattole Valley that sold for $515 per acre, 980 acres in about 4 miles southeast of Ferndale, which sold for 735 per acre and 1042 acres in Maple Creek that sold for $625 per acre to arrive at a value of $783 per acre after deducting for the improvements [$860 with improvements]. My main appraiser’s work was reviewed by another local appraiser with 35 years experience specializing in ranch land whose impartial analysis was thoroughly critiqued in a lengthy deposition and who had appraised the property on 4 separate occasions since 1993 . On the other hand, Mr. Brooks looked at 4 local properties but most significantly he use a Fort Bragg parcel which sold for $4,548 per acre. [Yes, the Fort Bragg market is vastly different from Humboldt county.] Mr. Brooks arrived at a land value of $1,400 per acre. The improvements were valued similarly. And as I said previously, he came up with a value 74% higher than the two local experts. Mr. Brooks’ specialty is residential and commercial, not ranch land and acreage. Personally, i was appalled that he would use Fort Bragg property. That is precisely why I felt compelled to comment. I have nothing but good about Mr. Brooks from other appraisers. but my whole point is that, when it was expedient, in this particular case, he went to great lengths to support his high value appraisal, even delving into a completely different market. I do not question Mr. Brook’s qualifications, but I know the county needs money. Will he do the same thing again? With that said, I also respect the opinions of Mr. Kirk. We shall agree to disagree on this one.

  • I’ll be happy when the election is over. So will the gal at the post office.

  • I’ll be happy when the election is over. So will the gal at the post office.

  • Over for awhile, the Big One’s still coming. Can’t wait to see what That brings.

  • Over for awhile, the Big One’s still coming. Can’t wait to see what That brings.

  • HMMMM, Brooks thinks ocean front land  is worth more than grazing
    land.  And also thinks oceanfront land in Petrolia is worth about a
    third of ocean front land in Mendocino.  I dunno, sounds pretty
    reasonable to me.

  • HMMMM, Brooks thinks ocean front land  is worth more than grazing
    land.  And also thinks oceanfront land in Petrolia is worth about a
    third of ocean front land in Mendocino.  I dunno, sounds pretty
    reasonable to me.

  • The case referred to by the Attorney supports Jon Brooks as the most qualified candidate for election in the Assessor’s Office race. The Attorney and Mrs. Rodoni would have you believe that they are correct in undervaluing a property for tax purposes and thereby depriving our community of needed funding for our schools and services.

    Jon Brooks is known for impartiality, experience and highest level of professionalism found in the Appraisal Institute’s Code of Professional Ethics and the Appraisal Foundation’s Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.
    The Attorney and author of the letter cites a case in which he was hired to defend the below market sale value of a coastal property in Petrolia. To do so he hired two Appraisers who were not qualified to appraise such complex property. The two Appraisers hired by the Attorney arrived at estimates of market sale value for the coastal property in Petrolia that were not supportable because they were compared to inland properties in locations such as the mountainous Blocksburg and Maple Creek. The opposing party hired Jon Brooks because of his widely known and well supported professional reputation for expertise in Humboldt County real property and holder of MAI designation. The Court used the testimony of Jon Brooks as an Expert Witness to find that his higher opinion of property value was the actual property value because of the coastal location.

    As a local California Real Estate Appraiser, I know that voting for Jon Brooks as Humboldt County Assessor is the right thing to do on June 8th. Jon Brooks has the proven expertise, experience and management skills needed to fix our poorly rated and poorly run Assessor’s Office. As finding in the case referred to by the Attorney shows, Jon Brooks will make sure our properties are valued at what they should be so that everyone is treated equally.

  • The case referred to by the Attorney supports Jon Brooks as the most qualified candidate for election in the Assessor’s Office race. The Attorney and Mrs. Rodoni would have you believe that they are correct in undervaluing a property for tax purposes and thereby depriving our community of needed funding for our schools and services.

    Jon Brooks is known for impartiality, experience and highest level of professionalism found in the Appraisal Institute’s Code of Professional Ethics and the Appraisal Foundation’s Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.
    The Attorney and author of the letter cites a case in which he was hired to defend the below market sale value of a coastal property in Petrolia. To do so he hired two Appraisers who were not qualified to appraise such complex property. The two Appraisers hired by the Attorney arrived at estimates of market sale value for the coastal property in Petrolia that were not supportable because they were compared to inland properties in locations such as the mountainous Blocksburg and Maple Creek. The opposing party hired Jon Brooks because of his widely known and well supported professional reputation for expertise in Humboldt County real property and holder of MAI designation. The Court used the testimony of Jon Brooks as an Expert Witness to find that his higher opinion of property value was the actual property value because of the coastal location.

    As a local California Real Estate Appraiser, I know that voting for Jon Brooks as Humboldt County Assessor is the right thing to do on June 8th. Jon Brooks has the proven expertise, experience and management skills needed to fix our poorly rated and poorly run Assessor’s Office. As finding in the case referred to by the Attorney shows, Jon Brooks will make sure our properties are valued at what they should be so that everyone is treated equally.

  • Robert A. Zigler

    One last counter. My appraisers with 70 years combined experience determined the best and highest use was as a recreational estate, so my point still stands. Also, the second appraiser was called in as an independent to review the other two appraisals. Mr. Brooks was paid to come with an appraisal at a value much higher than the selling price, and he did so by using Fort Bragg properties to come in 74% higher. It was expedient to do so, and he did. That worries me.

  • Robert A. Zigler

    One last counter. My appraisers with 70 years combined experience determined the best and highest use was as a recreational estate, so my point still stands. Also, the second appraiser was called in as an independent to review the other two appraisals. Mr. Brooks was paid to come with an appraisal at a value much higher than the selling price, and he did so by using Fort Bragg properties to come in 74% higher. It was expedient to do so, and he did. That worries me.

  • Mr Zigler’s comment speaks to the issue of competency. Jon Brooks was able to support his opinion of the market value for the property in the Court Case because his expertise and experience made him competent to do so and the Court found that his value was the correct value. The appraisers hired by Mr. Zigler, the defense attorney, were not able to support their opinions for the market value of the coastal property and the Court found their opinions were significantly under the correct value.

    There is no great mystery as to why the Mr. Zigler lost his case! Historical evidence indicates that coastal property in the Petrolia area is worth more than property found inland from that section of the coast. Mr. Zigler made the bad argument for the low value because he was hired by his client to do so. When Jon Brooks gives an opinion of market value you can depend on him to impartially prove exactly why that property is worth what it is.

    It should encourage the voters for Jon Brooks that the only criticism Mr. Zigler is able to make of Mr. Brooks is that he lost in Court because he obtained two appraisals that were not preformed competently enough to support their market values. It also encourages me that the posting by Mr. Zigler demonstrates one key difference between Mr. Brooks and Mrs. Rodoni. Mr. Brooks will manage the Assessor’s office and make sure property values are accurately reported and taxed because of his appraisal experience. Mrs. Rodoni has no appraisal experience and has no idea what she is doing when it comes to assessing properties; therefore, Mrs. Rodoni has no way to determine when an assessment is wrong. Wouldn’t you rather have an assessor who can make sure our county assessments are completed accurately?

    If Mrs Rodoni was competent in determining if a property was value is wrong she never would have circulated Mr. Zigler’s letter. Appraisal guidelines state that an appraiser must be competent in the type of appraisal they are completing. An appraiser who is experienced with inland land appraisals may not be competent in the appraisal of coastal properties because they lack the necessary experience to complete the appraisal process and arrive at an accurate and supportable opinion of market value. In Mr. Zigler’s case, Jon Brooks was not paid to come up with an appraisal value higher than the fraudulent sale price that lead to the lawsuit against Mr. Zigler’s client. Mr. Brooks was paid to complete an appraisal assignment without bias and to offer evidence as the Expert Witness of the Court.

    Mr. Zigler knows that if Jon Brooks was actually paid to arrive at an opinion of value higher than the truly supportable market value of the property then the case would be reviewed by the Office of Real Estate Appraisers and by the Appraisal Institute. What really worries Mr. Zigler is that defending his clients lowball market sale values that rip off people who don’t know any better will be that much harder when Jon Brooks is Assessor.

  • Mr Zigler’s comment speaks to the issue of competency. Jon Brooks was able to support his opinion of the market value for the property in the Court Case because his expertise and experience made him competent to do so and the Court found that his value was the correct value. The appraisers hired by Mr. Zigler, the defense attorney, were not able to support their opinions for the market value of the coastal property and the Court found their opinions were significantly under the correct value.

    There is no great mystery as to why the Mr. Zigler lost his case! Historical evidence indicates that coastal property in the Petrolia area is worth more than property found inland from that section of the coast. Mr. Zigler made the bad argument for the low value because he was hired by his client to do so. When Jon Brooks gives an opinion of market value you can depend on him to impartially prove exactly why that property is worth what it is.

    It should encourage the voters for Jon Brooks that the only criticism Mr. Zigler is able to make of Mr. Brooks is that he lost in Court because he obtained two appraisals that were not preformed competently enough to support their market values. It also encourages me that the posting by Mr. Zigler demonstrates one key difference between Mr. Brooks and Mrs. Rodoni. Mr. Brooks will manage the Assessor’s office and make sure property values are accurately reported and taxed because of his appraisal experience. Mrs. Rodoni has no appraisal experience and has no idea what she is doing when it comes to assessing properties; therefore, Mrs. Rodoni has no way to determine when an assessment is wrong. Wouldn’t you rather have an assessor who can make sure our county assessments are completed accurately?

    If Mrs Rodoni was competent in determining if a property was value is wrong she never would have circulated Mr. Zigler’s letter. Appraisal guidelines state that an appraiser must be competent in the type of appraisal they are completing. An appraiser who is experienced with inland land appraisals may not be competent in the appraisal of coastal properties because they lack the necessary experience to complete the appraisal process and arrive at an accurate and supportable opinion of market value. In Mr. Zigler’s case, Jon Brooks was not paid to come up with an appraisal value higher than the fraudulent sale price that lead to the lawsuit against Mr. Zigler’s client. Mr. Brooks was paid to complete an appraisal assignment without bias and to offer evidence as the Expert Witness of the Court.

    Mr. Zigler knows that if Jon Brooks was actually paid to arrive at an opinion of value higher than the truly supportable market value of the property then the case would be reviewed by the Office of Real Estate Appraisers and by the Appraisal Institute. What really worries Mr. Zigler is that defending his clients lowball market sale values that rip off people who don’t know any better will be that much harder when Jon Brooks is Assessor.

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