Howard Jarvis

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Howard Jarvis
Born(1903-09-22)September 22, 1903
DiedAugust 11, 1986(1986-08-11) (aged 82)
Resting placeForest Lawn - Hollywood Hills
EducationUtah State University
Occupationbusinessman, lobbyist, politician
EmployerLos Angeles Apartment Owners Association
Known forProposition 13
Political partyRepublican Party
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 a tax policy 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%.

Politics and Proposition 13[edit]

Jarvis employed use of the California initiative process of which "Prop 13" was made into law and the initiative became popular with California homeowners. "Prop 13" placed a ceiling on property taxes which had previously been assessed relative to assessed value based on current market valuation of real property by county assessors. That the initiative process of Proposition 13 created a different formula for property taxes (1% of purchase price of property) was popular with the 1970s single family homeowner of California. Jarvis argued an assessed value of property based on unattained gain that exceeds the original home purchase price is an unrealized gain and homeowners found "Prop 13" appealing since it was based on the actual purchase price of real estate. During the inflationary period of the 1970s assessments had increased each year and single-family homeowners who had purchased their homes in an earlier time claimed the new tax assessments unaffordable. The "Prop 13" initiative sets a formula for property taxation at 1% of the purchase price of real estate.

Proposition 13 (officially named the People's Initiative to Limit Property Taxation) was an amendment of the Constitution of California Section 1. (a) The maximum amount of any ad valorem tax on real property shall not exceed one percent (1%) of the full cash value of such property. Property values could be reassessed every year indexed to inflation with a cap of 2% per year. The one percent (1%) tax to be collected by the counties and apportioned according to law to the districts within the counties.

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]

In California, municipal enactment of rent controls followed the high inflation of the 1970s (causing rents to continually rise)[5]:1 and the statewide Proposition 13, which set property tax rates at 1%, and capped yearly increases at 2%. Leading the campaign to enact Prop 13, Jarvis tried to get tenants to vote for Prop 13 by claiming that landlords would pass tax savings along to tenants; when most failed to do so, it became an additional motivating factor for rent control.[5]:2


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.[6]

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, spends the entire movie sitting in an empty cab waiting for the driver to return, with the meter running all the while. Jarvis has the final line in the movie, which he says after the end credits. Still sitting in the cab with the fare at $113 and still rising (equivalent to $351 in 2019), having not moved at all, he looks at his watch and says "Well, I'll give him another twenty minutes, but that's it!"

Year Title Role Notes
1980 Airplane! Man in Taxi


  • 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.

Additional sources[edit]

  • 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. ^ a b Forbes, Jim; Sheridan, Matthew (1999-06-01). "The Birth of Rent Control in San Francisco". San Francisco Apartment Association. Archived from the original on 2008-07-20. Retrieved 2018-08-05.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2013-08-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

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