Howard Jarvis

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Howard Jarvis
Born Howard Arnold Jarvis
(1903-09-22)September 22, 1903
Magna, Utah
Died August 11, 1986(1986-08-11) (aged 82)
Los Angeles, California
Resting place Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills
Alma mater Utah State University
Occupation businessman, lobbyist, politician
Employer Los Angeles Apartment Owners Association
Known for Proposition 13
Home town Magna, Utah
Political party Republican Party
Religion The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Spouse(s) Myrtle Corrine Fickes (1924–)
Carrie Louise Martin
Estelle Garcia (c. 1965)[1]
Parent(s) James Ransom Jarvis
Margaret Bolton McKellar

Howard Arnold Jarvis (September 22, 1903 – August 12, 1986) was an American businessman, lobbyist, and politician. He was an anti-tax activist responsible for passage of California's Proposition 13 in 1978.

Early life and education[edit]

Jarvis was born in Magna, Utah, and died in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from Utah State University. In Utah he had some political involvement working with his father's campaigns and his own. His father was a state Supreme Court judge and, unlike Jarvis, a member of the Democratic Party. Howard Jarvis was active in the Republican Party and also ran small town newspapers. Although raised Mormon, he smoked cigars and drank vodka as an adult. He moved to California in the 1930s due to a suggestion by Earl Warren.[2] Jarvis bought his home at 515 North Crescent Heights Boulevard in Los Angeles for $8,000 in 1941.[3] By 1976, it was assessed at $80,000.[2] He married his third wife, Estelle Garcia, around 1965.[1]

Political career and Proposition 13[edit]

Jarvis was a Republican primary candidate for the U.S. Senate in California in 1962, but the nomination and the election went to the moderate Republican Thomas Kuchel. Subsequently, he ran several times for Mayor of Los Angeles on an anti-tax platform and gained a reputation as a harsh critic of government. An Orange County businessman, he went on to lead the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and spearheaded Proposition 13,[4] the California property tax-cutting initiative passed in 1978 which slashed property taxes by 57%.

Jarvis and his wife collected tens of thousands of signatures to enable Prop. 13 to appear on a statewide ballot, for which he garnered national attention.[4] The ballot measure passed with nearly two-thirds of the vote.[4] Two years later, voters in Massachusetts enacted a similar measure.[4]

Impact on rent control laws[edit]

Regarding the motives of Jarvis in promoting Proposition 13 and the role its passage had in rent control subsequently being enacted in most large cities in California, Greg Katz has written: "There was little doubt from his rhetoric that Howard Jarvis, who penned Prop. 13 with his on-again-off-again political ally Paul Gann, hated taxes of all kinds. But his intentions were, at best, turbid; Jarvis was at the time employed by the Los Angeles Apartment Owners Association as a lobbyist. In a fundraising letter to the landlords that employed him, he claimed, 'We are the biggest losers' if Prop. 13 fails. (Not to mention: The "Yes on 13" headquarters were located in a Los Angeles Apartment Owners Association office.) He tried to persuade renters to vote for Prop. 13 by saying it would drive down rents, by decreasing the property taxes that landlords paid. Post-13 news reports found rents weren’t going down, despite Jarvis’s promises – apparently landlords were just pocketing their property tax savings. That revelation prompted many of the rent controls still in effect around California."[5] San Francisco community activist Calvin Welch has stated "Jarvis was the father of rent control."[6][7] Mark Evanier has dubbed him a "horrible man" and summed up Jarvis' years as a lobbyist for landlords with these words: "He spent a lot of time 'n' money trying to ram through bills that said, in essence, that if I'm your landlord, I can do any damn thing I want to you, including tearing up contracts and raising your rent or evicting you whenever I feel like it." [8]


In 1979, Jarvis received the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.[9]

Film appearance[edit]

In 1980, he had a cameo appearance in the film Airplane!, playing an incredibly patient taxicab passenger. This was an inside joke that people outside California were probably unaware of since Jarvis, a champion of fiscal responsibility, spent the entire movie sitting in an empty cab waiting for the driver to return, with the meter running all the while. Jarvis had the final line in the movie, which he said after the end credits. Still sitting in the cab with the fare at $113 and still rising (equivalent to $323 in 2015), having not moved at all, he looks at his watch and says "Well, I'll give him another twenty minutes, but that's it!"


  • Jarvis, Howard; Robert Pack (1979). I'm mad as hell : the exclusive story of the tax revolt and its leader. New York: Times Books. pp. 310 pp. ISBN 0-8129-0858-9. OCLC 5170210. 


  • Smith, David A. (Summer 1999). "Howard Jarvis, Populist Entrepreneur: Reevaluating the Causes of Proposition 13". Social Science History (Duke University Press) 23 (2): 173–210. doi:10.2307/1171520. JSTOR 1171520. 


  1. ^ a b "Estelle Jarvis, 91; Aided Husband's Effort to Put Proposition 13 on Ballot". Los Angeles Times. May 2, 2006. pp. B–10. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  2. ^ a b "Maniac or Messiah?". Time. June 19, 1978. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  3. ^ Curwen, Thomas (April 30, 2006). "A history of paradise". Los Angeles Times. pp. S–16. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  4. ^ a b c d Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York, New York: Basic Books. p. 325. ISBN 0-465-04195-7. 
  5. ^ The Crushing Blow of Howard Jarvis, Los Angeles CityBeat Jan. 23, 2008
  6. ^ The Birth of Rent Control in San Francisco, San Francisco Apartment Magazine June 1999
  7. ^ Smith, David A. (Summer 1999). "Howard Jarvis, Populist Entrepreneur: Reevaluating the Causes of Proposition 13" (PDF). Social Science History (Duke University Press) 23 (2): 173–210. doi:10.2307/1171520. Retrieved April 18, 2009. 
  8. ^ California Rolled News From me (blog) July 9, 2009
  9. ^

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