In an unusual move in the world of California’s direct democracy, the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) filed a new initiative for the 2020 ballot to achieve a goal similar to the initiative they already qualified for 2018. One conclusion: polling must be weak on Proposition 5, the measure on the November 2018 ballot.

Proposition 5 would allow seniors 55 and over to move to another home anywhere in the state and receive a property tax break to encourage the move, thus freeing larger homes for young families. The idea is to remove any property tax shock from seniors who would like to move but are concerned about giving up their Proposition 13 property tax protection—something the realtors label as a “moving penalty.” The realtors argue freeing up more homes will help with the state’s housing crisis.

However, the measure received a blow from the Legislative Analyst’s Office when the analyst calculated that Proposition 5 would eventually cost local governments and schools $2 billion a year. That information will be passed to voters in the initiative’s summary and the opponents campaign.

According to a C.A.R. press release, the new initiative was filed “in the event the ‘moving penalty’ is not eliminated this November.” In other words, if Prop 5 fails.

To offset the projected revenue loss under Prop 5, the realtors added two new features to the proposed 2020 initiative. One would require reassessment of property that is acquired through intergenerational transfers of primary residents and other inherited property that is used as income producing property.

The second measure would mimic a law that was scuttled in the legislature that would address change of ownership of certain commercial property transfers that use creative means to avoid property reassessment to full market value.

Both of these additional provisions would raise tax revenue to counter the revenue loss projected by the LAO.

The realtors also believe the commercial property feature would help defeat a split roll initiative aimed for the 2020 ballot that proposes to fully re-assess commercial property. (The C.A.R. release said that the split roll initiative has already qualified for the 2020 ballot but that has not occurred, yet.)

Depending when the realtors launch their new initiative, they could still take advantage of the low signature requirement still tied to the gubernatorial vote from the 2014 election. The number of signatures required to qualify an initiative would be adjusted after the gubernatorial vote in 2018, projected to be greater than the 2014 gubernatorial vote totals.

The realtors’ surprise strategy has the feeling of hoisting a white flag even before the campaigning has begun.