Mello Roos

Mello-Roos is a tax named after two California legislators who found a way around the landmark, tax-limiting Proposition 13.

The tax allowed local governments to generate revenue to pay for projects such as schools, roads and parks in new neighborhoods.

Typically, housing developers create Mello-Roos districts, which can then issue debt and collect taxes. The tax amounts vary wildly from district to district and even house to house.

One inewsource investigation uncovered some homeowners had been incorrectly taxed and overpaid by hundreds or thousands of dollars in Mello-Roos property taxes.

Stay up to date on the latest stories.

REPORTERS

BRANDON QUESTER

Brandon Quester is the director of data and visuals at inewsource. He has worked on data analysis, interactives and graphics for our Mello-Roos coverage.
Contact him at brandonquester@inewsource.org.

LEONARDO CASTAÑEDA

Leonardo Castañeda is a former reporter at inewsource. He worked on data analysis and reporting for our Mello-Roos coverage.

JOANNE FARYON

Joanne Faryon is a former investigative reporter at inewsource. She worked on the reporting for our Mello-Roos coverage.

KEVIN CROWE

Kevin Crowe is a former data reporter at inewsource. He did data analysis, interactives and graphics for our Mello-Roos coverage.

FEATURED STORY

Special property tax lacks robust oversight, accountability

June 20, 2017

San Diego County property owners have paid almost $1 billion since 2011 in Mello-Roos taxes, and not all are created equal. Homeowners in the same neighborhood can pay vastly different amounts.

MORE ON THE INVESTIGATION

Eastlake homeowners pay millions in Mello-Roos school taxes but money goes elsewhere

July 31, 2018

Over the past three decades, the Sweetwater Union High School District has used at least $46 million in special taxes paid by property owners in the Eastlake neighborhood to fund projects in other parts of Chula Vista.

iPads for seventh graders at Sweetwater school district MIA

June 22, 2017

Five years after the Sweetwater Union High School District board spent $4.5 million to put iPads in the hands of seventh graders, nearly all of the Apple tablets are classified as out of inventory, lost or stolen.

Mello-Roos tax records: How we crunched the data

June 20, 2017

The Mello-Roos map is the culmination of months of data mining, cleaning and analysis, followed by equally ambitious application development so San Diego County residents can find the specialized taxes they pay.

City of S.D. says checking Mello-Roos tax bills too costly

May 13, 2014

The city of San Diego’s audit committee has decided it would be too much work and too costly to reconcile the tax bills for people who pay special assessments called Mello-Roos.


Neighborhood kids can’t go to new Poway Unified school, but teachers’ kids can

February 12, 2014

The district is holding a lottery for families who want their children to attend this August, but it excludes homeowners who did not pay for the construction of the school through their Mello-Roos taxes.


Poway Unified parents want answers about who gets a seat at new school

January 22, 2014

The Poway Unified School Board faced some tough questions from parents at a meeting Tuesday night about how their Mello-Roos tax dollars are being spent.


Poway Unified kids can’t attend new school because parents didn’t pay for it

January 21, 2014

A group of Poway Unified School District parents is petitioning the school board because their kids won’t be allowed to attend a brand new school that’s less than a 20-minute walk from their homes.


Poway Unified sells Rancho Bernardo land to health care company

December 17, 2013

Following nine years of debate and deal-making, the Poway Unified School District finally sold an 11-acre parcel of land in Rancho Bernardo to the highest bidder: a healthcare company.


Surprise bid on Rancho Bernardo land: possible seniors’ community

December 11, 2013

The Poway School District is getting close to selling 11 acres of prime real estate in Rancho Bernardo to a San Diego health care company.


Poway school officials front costs with Mello-Roos taxes; vow to pay it back

September 17, 2013

Officials at one of the county’s most respected school districts promised to pay back its Mello-Roos accounts after inewsource found it was spending the special tax dollars to pay a consultant to help sell land it owns outside the Mello-Roos area.


Poway district responds to inewsource probe with Mello-Roos website

September 16, 2013

The online tool is expected to be live by the end of the week and will be found at the school district’s website, Powayusd.com.


Poway schools rely on Mello-Roos tax machine – For lunches, signs and old school repair

August 19, 2013

The Poway Unified School District spends special property taxes called Mello-Roos on everything from catered lunches, to consultant fees, to a new administration building.


Poway school district admits mistakes in some Mello-Roos tax bills

July 25, 2013

The Poway Unified School District conceded Wednesday some homeowners in its district are being taxed incorrectly after an inewsource investigation first uncovered the problem.


Another homeowner overcharged Mello-Roos taxes – this time in Poway school district

July 17, 2013

The mistake was discovered after an inewsource investigation revealed more than two dozen inconsistencies in tax bills in Del Sur, a new development in the northeastern section of San Diego.


Councilman wants independent audit of Del Sur taxes

July 15, 2013

A San Diego councilman is asking for an independent audit of more than 300 property tax bills after an inewsource investigation raised the prospect that homeowners are paying too much – or too little – in special taxes.


Mello-Roos law allows vote of one to decide on new taxes

June 17, 2013

There are currently 232 CFDs collecting taxes in San Diego County. inewsource was able to trace voting records to at least 120 of them. Of those, 113 had no registered voters when the request for voting information was made.


Homeowners overcharged thousands in Mello-Roos taxes

June 12, 2013

The mistakes came to light after we made public an interactive Mello-Roos map – a tool property owners can use to see what they pay in Mello-Roos taxes.


Mello-Roos: The Tax You Choose

May 29, 2013

Find out whether you're one of the thousands of property owners in San Diego County paying an extra tax called Mello-Roos.


State forces schools to shift money around to pay bills

November 30, 2012

Like families trying to make ends meet in a down economy, years of deferred payments from the state have forced school districts to get creative with their accounting.


Homeowners willing to pay higher taxes can buy nicer schools

November 2, 2012

Districts are using a state law called Mello-Roos that allows special districts to charge homeowners thousands per year to build schools, buy buses, even pay for iPads.