Service Charges and Property Taxes

Reserve your seat for one of four seminars taking place in early 2016.

In January and February 2016 Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will present its 15th annual educational program for clients and colleagues interested in current land use, environmental, and real estate issues affecting commercial and residential development, agriculture, real estate transactions, easements, mining

 By William W. Abbott

Griffith v. Pajaro Valley Water Mgt. Agency (October 14, 2013) ___ Cal.App.4th ___. 

The long saga of the groundwater augmentation strategy for Pajaro Valley in Santa Cruz County has reached its next, and possibly final stopping point. The underlying saga is a telltale forecast of what lies ahead for California, with the inevitable conflicts generated by resource allocation and management. In Griffith, the specific conflict stems from the intersection of groundwater management strategies designed in part to better manage water resources and to reduce saltwater intrusion with the citizen rights created by Proposition 218.Continue Reading Court Affirms Groundwater Augmentation Charge Exempt From Proposition 218 As A Water Service Charge

By William W. Abbott

As developers pursue infill or re-use opportunities, a predictable question regarding impact fees will arise: To what extent is the developer entitled to a credit for the existing uses onsite which ultimately are displaced by a new project? At least in the case of school facilities, we know from the recent decision in Cresta Bella, LP v. Poway Unified School District (July 31, 2013, D060789) ___ Cal.App.4th ___,that the burden is on the agency to justify the fee, and in the absence of sufficient justification, that the developer may be entitled to a fee refund. Continue Reading School District Failed to Document Justification For Applying Full School Fees to Demolition of and Development of a Multi-family Project

By Glen C. Hansen

For nearly twenty years, Fifth Amendment takings challenges to adjudicative land-use exactions and permit conditions have been governed by the dual Supreme Court cases of Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, 483 U.S. 825 (1987),and Dolan v. City of Tigard, 512 U.S. 374 (1994). In Nollan, the Court held that a government could, without paying the compensation, demand the easement as a condition for granting a development permit the government was entitled to deny, provided that the exaction would substantially advance the same government interest that would furnish a valid ground for denial of the permit. The Court further refined that requirement in Dolan, holding that an adjudicative exaction requiring dedication of private property must also be “‘roughly proportional’ . . . both in nature and extent to the impact of the proposed development.” However, Nollan and Dolan involved the dedication of real property interests. In Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, ___ U.S. ___, 2013 U.S. Lexis 4918 (2013), the Court held in a 5-4 decision that “the government’s demand for property from a land-use permit applicant must satisfy the requirements of Nollan and Dolan even when the government denies the permit and even when its demand is for money.” Continue Reading The U.S. Supreme Court’s Nollan/Dolan Jurisprudence Is Catching Up With The California Supreme Court in Ehrlich v. Culver City

By William W. Abbott

In California Building Industry Assn. v. City of San Jose (June 6, 2013, H038563) ___ Cal.App.4th ___, the City of San Jose adopted an inclusionary ordinance, requiring that new residential projects include units affordable to specified income ranges. Alternatively, the ordinance permitted the developer to pay an in lieu fee or dedicate land. The California Building Industry Association (“CBIA”) filed suit, challenging the validity of the ordinance on its face on the basis that the ordinance lacked any nexus to the deleterious effects of new residential development. CBIA did not allege that a compensable takings had occurred, but rather argued that the City lacked sufficient justification for the ordinance. The trial court agreed with CBIA and invalidated the ordinance. The City appealed.Continue Reading Appellate Court Reverses Trial Court Invalidation Of Local Inclusionary Ordinance; Remanded For Further Review

By William W. Abbott

Schmeer v. County of Los Angeles (February 2, 2013, B240592) ___Cal.App.4th ___. The County of Los Angeles enacted an ordinance prohibiting retail stores from providing plastic carryout bags and requiring the stores to charge customers 10 cents for each paper bag provided. Among other provisions, the ordinance provided that the money received by the store for recyclable paper carryout bags must be retained by the store and used only for (1) the costs of compliance with the ordinance; (2) the actual costs of providing recyclable paper bags; or (3) the costs of educational materials or other costs of promoting the use of reusable bags.Continue Reading 10 Cent Per Bag Charge Included as Part of An Ordinance Encouraging Use of Recyclable Grocery Bags Was Not Subject to Proposition 26

A selling property owner is not automatically entitled to carry forward an older property tax base to replacement property simply because the buyer is carrying out economic activity as part of a redevelopment plan.
Continue Reading Property Owner Fails to Establish Basis For Maintaining Older Property Tax Assessment Following Property Transfer

Agencies forming assessment districts must disclose basis for assessment of public and private properties; the required engineer’s report must provide and identify special and general benefits, and provide rationale for special benefits and corresponding benefits.
Continue Reading Finding the Special in Special Benefits after Proposition 218

In this case, the water district imposed a rate structure whereby “irrigation only” users paid disproportionately higher rates for the same amount of water use. The water district asserted that this was permitted under Article X section 2 of the Constitution, which promoted water conservation and allowed, through statute, allocation-based water rates. The appellate court disagreed that Article X section 2 gave the district a “pass” from the requirement in Proposition 218 that fees shall not exceed the proportional cost of providing the service. Therefore, the court held that the disproportionate rate structure was invalid.
Continue Reading Water Conservation Does Not Trump Proportionality Requirement of Prop 218