There is a proposal on the 2020 ballot to reassess commercial real estate every three years instead of when a property changes hands. The assessor of Santa Clara County of all places (the heart of Silicon Valley) claims it would be impossible to implement. He claims it takes three to four years to hire and train assessors.

I Googled the subject, “How to Evaluate Commercial Property” and of the 12 steps required, only one seems to have any subjectivity. The rest are entirely objective. If the process can be mostly reduced to a set of rules, it can be automated.

I read an article recently about a Japanese insurance company that eliminated its entire 1,000 person claims department by using artificial intelligence to settle claims. I got into IT in 1975 when it was in its infancy. The process of collecting data from different file, sorting and reporting, would take days back then. When it was computerized, it took minutes and was considered nothing short of revolutionary. And the capabilities of modern computer systems make the mid-’70s look like the Dark Ages.

This is an area that is ripe for the application of artificial intelligence and computerization. Assessing commercial real estate is not rocket science? I would think a small group of computer scientists and programmers could develop a working system in three months — maybe less. And since the system would be needed by every assessing district in the state, they could recover the cost in a short time. And, no existing assessors would be laid off; new ones would simply not be hired.

Robert Baker

San Mateo

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