LA at a Glance
In 1978, California voters passed Proposition 13, which substantially reduced property tax rates. As a result, the maximum levy cannot exceed 1 percent of a property’s assessed value (plus bonded indebtedness and direct assessment taxes). Increases in assessed value are limited to 2 percent annually, and only the following four events can cause a reappraisal:
  • A change in ownership
  • Completed new construction
  • New construction partially completed on the lien date (January 1)
  • A decline in value

There are various property tax exemptions that may be applicable to you. Visit http://assessor.lacounty.gov/extranet/guides/exemptions.aspx for more information.

SALES AND USE TAXES
Voter approval of Proposition 30 in 2012 instituted the statewide base sales and use tax rate increase 0.25 percent as of January 1, 2013. The higher tax rate will apply through December 31, 2016. The increase puts areas of Los Angeles County as high as 10 percent and areas of Ventura County as low as 7.5 percent. The sales tax rate increase does not apply to sales of motor vehicle gasoline, which currently has a sales tax rate of 2.25 percent plus applicable district taxes. The sales tax rate increase does apply to sales of diesel fuel. Neighboring cities and counties have different tax rates, so check with your local government office before you move.

SEAT BELTS AND CHILD SAFETY
California's Mandatory Seat Belt law requires drivers and all passengers to use a safety restraint system while riding in a motor vehicle. All children under age 8 are required to use a child safety seat in the back seat that is appropriate to their age and weight. Children under the age of 8 who are 4'9" or taller may be secured by a safety belt in the back seat. Children 8 years and older must be properly secured in an appropriate child passenger restraint system or safety belt.

USE OF CELL PHONES
California has a Hand-Held Wireless Telephone: Prohibited Use law that states that a person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless used with a hands-free listening and talking device. Emergency exclusions apply, but violation of the law is punishable by $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. Texting while driving also falls under this law.

LIQUOR LAW
Following federal law, no one under the age of 21 may purchase or consume an alcoholic beverage. Relatively unrestricted, the law in California makes beer, wine and liquor available at grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations and warehouse clubs. There are no statewide holiday restrictions. Liquor stores are open every day of the week and can be sold between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. Bars close at 2 a.m. in California. City and county governments can set different sale hours. Some counties and cities require sellers to place the containers in paper bags upon sale.

TRANSPORTATION
The intercity transportation system in Los Angeles serves as a regional, national and international hub for passenger and freight traffic. The system includes the United States’ largest port complex, an extensive freight system and a passenger rail infrastructure, including light rail and subway lines, numerous airports and bus lines and an extensive freeway and road system.

The city also constantly is improving itself and looking for ways to make traveling even easier. In 2006, the city completed the extensive Transportation Expansion Project (T-REX) on time and under budget. T-REX added pedestrian bridges, 19 miles of light rail and widened 17 miles of highway throughout the busiest parts of the Denver metro area. Denver currently is expanding the light rail system and plans to add 122 miles of rail by 2017. The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) also has developed a regional transportation plan to address environmental impact, the maintenance of current infrastructure and the planned and orderly growth of future infrastructure projects.

— Freeway System and Local Lingo
There are a dozen major freeways that crisscross the region.
  • 110 Freeway: California’s first freeway was the 110 Freeway, also known as the Pasadena Freeway or the Arroyo Seco Parkway. Opened on January 1, 1940, it links Downtown Los Angeles to Downtown Pasadena. It can be quite dangerous because there is no shoulder, the lanes are narrow, the turns are sharp and the ramps are short because it was designed for much slower era with less traffic. Commercial vehicles more than 6,000 pounds are prohibited from using this freeway.
  • The 101: Also referred to as the Santa Ana Freeway, the Hollywood Freeway and the Ventura Freeway U.S. Route 101 is a major parallel freeway or highway with Interstate 5 between Los Angeles and San Francisco as an alternative to the Interstate for most of its length.
  • Interstate 5: Also referred to as the Golden State Freeway, Interstate 5
  • Interstate 10: This is a major east-west highway that runs east from Santa Monica through Los Angeles and San Bernardino to the border with Arizona. In the Los Angeles area, it is known as the Santa Monica Freeway and the San Bernardino Freeway.
  • Interstate 105: Referred to as The 105, this interstate highway runs east-west through Los Angeles County from near the Los Angeles International Airport to Norwalk. Officially known as the Glenn Anderson Freeway, it is also referred to as the Century Freeway.
  • Interstate 210: Interstate 210 and State Route 210 form the Foothill Freeway in the Greater Los Angeles area. The western portion of the route is an auxiliary interstate highway while the eastern portion is a state highway. The entire route was upgraded to interstate standards in 2007.
  • Interstate 405: Locally referred to as The 405, it is a major north-south interstate in Southern California. A bypass of Interstate 5, it runs along the western and southern parts of the Greater Los Angeles area from Irvine in the south to near San Fernando in the north. The entire route is known as the northern segment of the San Diego Freeway.
  • Interstate 710: Locally referred to as the Seven-Ten, this is a north-south auxiliary interstate freeway that runs 23 miles through Los Angeles County. Officially known as the Long Beach Freeway, it runs north from Long Beach to Valley Boulevard, just north of I-10 near the boundary between Alhambra and Los Angeles. South of I-5, it follows the Los Angeles River, rarely wandering more than a few hundred feet from the riverbed.

Other major roadways include the Seaside Freeway (SR-47), the Glendale Freeway (SR-2), Antelope Valley Freeway (SR-14), the Pomona Freeway (SR-60), the Marina Freeway (SR-90), the Gardena Freeway (SR-91), the Terminal Island Freeway (SR-103) and the Ronald Reagan Freeway (SR-118).

   
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