Ace Auto Care, the car repair shop owned by Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido’s family, is behind $18,399.36 in property taxes, public records show.
Records show the Pulidos did not pay the shop’s property tax bills between 2008 and 2010, resulting in thousands of dollars in delinquency penalties. The family made a payment in September of $4,465.86, its first in three years.
Jose Pulido, Miguel Pulido’s younger brother, said he has been the only family member to run the shop in recent years.
He said he refused to pay the property tax to protest the special tax district that funds Downtown Inc., the organization charged with sprucing up and securing the city’s downtown core.
Other property owners against the tax have also withheld their property tax payments. Records show, however, that the Ace Auto Care’s delinquent taxes extend to 2008, the year before the special tax was first levied.
Jose Pulido said he will start making regular property tax payments. He said his next payment of $1,300 will be made in December.
The special tax has caused the Pulidos’ property tax bill to more than double, as have bills of many other downtown property owners.
Jose Pulido said he regrets his protest, because now there is no way to quash the debt, even though his shop was removed from the tax district. Downtown Inc. leaders shrank the district boundaries to placate a group of anti-tax property owners, a tactic that ultimately proved unsuccessful.
“I was pissed off at Miguel because guess who ended up paying?” Jose Pulido said.
Miguel did not return a call or text message seeking comment for this story.
The tax was approved in a 2008 property owners election. Critics of the special tax insist that city government and a handful of large property owners had an unfair advantage because voting power was allocated according to how much tax each owner would pay.
Proponents say Downtown Inc. is vital to transforming the downtown district into a successful and vibrant location.
Jose Pulido took over the shop in 2008 on condition that he run the shop by himself, he said. He doesn’t like the squabbling that occurs when more than one family member works at the shop, he explained.
Jose Pulido also acknowledged that the rest of the Pulido family hasn’t shared in the small profit that the shop has made since he took over. And he said family members had promised to help pay the delinquent taxes but haven’t yet.
“There have been some profits now, so they’re [family members] going to start hounding me,” Jose Pulido said.
This isn’t the first time the Pulido family has been delinquent with its taxes at the auto care shop.
OC Weekly’s Gustavo Arellano first reported the family’s property tax problems in 2003 when their shop, then called Ace Muffler Shop, faced more than $14,000 in tax liens. Arellano then reported in 2009 that the shop faced a $10,789 tax lien and that the shop’s business license was suspended.
Jose Pulido first spoke out against the tax in an interview by Voice of OC earlier this year. With about 60 other property owners, he signed a petition demanding an end to the tax.
Jose has said his signature put him at odds with his brother, who has expressed support of Downtown Inc.
But Jose has added that he’s not worried about it. “You don’t always see eye to eye on everything — but that’s family.”