Exactions and Assessments

The California Supreme Court ruled that water rates and other local utility charges are considered “taxes” for the purpose of California Constitution Article II, Section 9 and therefore exempt from the referendum process. Wilde v. City of Dunsmuir, No. S252915 (Cal. Supr. Ct., August 2, 2020).

The City of Dunsmuir adopted new water rates

San Francisco voters have approved a Vacancy Tax Ordinance, which imposes a tax assessment on vacant commercial space beginning January 1, 2021. The tax applies to any commercial space that is “unoccupied, uninhabited, or unused for more than 182 days whether consecutive or non-consecutive in a tax year.” The tax is intended to help reinvigorate

When imposing a school impact fee on residential development, a district need not separately analyze particular subtypes of projects; the authorizing statutes simply require a reasonable relationship between the need for the school facilities and the type of development project — in this case, residential. Tanimura & Antle Fresh Foods v. Salinas Union High School

The San Francisco Jobs Housing Linkage Fee (JHLF) is set to more than double under the “Housing for SF Workers” ordinance recently passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (Ordinance). Mayor London Breed refused to sign the Ordinance, but even without the Mayor’s signature, Housing for SF Workers becomes effective on December 15, 2019.

The court of appeal held that the City of Alameda’s development fee for parks and recreation was invalid and unenforceable because there was no reasonable relationship between the fee charged and the burden from new development. Boatworks, LLC v. City of Alameda, 35 Cal. App. 5th 290 (2019). The City improperly inflated mitigation fees

Twenty years was a reasonable period of time for a public agency to accept a right-of-way dedication offer by physically occupying the property. Prout v. Department of Transportation, 31 Cal. App. 5th 200 (2019).

Prout developed a 165-acre residential subdivision that fronted State Highway 12 in Calaveras County. In 1989, Prout submitted to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) an application for an encroachment permit to connect his subdivision’s private road to Highway 12. Caltrans approved the encroachment permit conditioned upon Prout dedicating a 20-foot-wide strip of vacant land along Highway 12 (1.31 acres total) as public right-of-way. Final subdivision maps recorded in 1990 labeled the 20-foot strip as “area in the process of being deeded to Caltrans for highway purposes.” However, “the matter simply ‘fell through the cracks,’” and the 20-foot strip was never transferred by deed to Caltrans. In the subsequent years, Prout never was assessed or paid property taxes on the 20-foot strip, and he did not fence the area within his subdivision parcels.

Two decades later, while planning for work to improve Highway 12, Caltrans discovered that the 20-foot strip of land had never been transferred by deed. Caltrans requested that Prout sign a deed to convey the strip of land; Prout refused. Caltrans proceeded with widening Highway 12 to include the 20-foot strip of land, completing the work in 2011.

Prout filed an inverse condemnation action against Caltrans, alleging that Caltrans owed him just compensation for physically occupying the 20-foot strip of land. Caltrans filed a cross-complaint for breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and specific performance, alleging that Prout had accepted the benefit of the encroachment permit but refused to finalize the dedication and deed of the 20-foot strip. In response, Prout argued that if the dedication of the 20-foot strip was a condition of the encroachment permit (as claimed by Caltrans), it was an illegal exaction.
Continue Reading Public Agency Could Validly Accept Dedication After Twenty Years By Physically Occupying the Property

The Sixth District Court of Appeal invalidated a school district’s Level 1 development fee because the underlying fee study did not properly calculate anticipated growth and included the cost of hypothetical new schools that the district had no plans to build.  Summerhill Winchester v Campbell Union School District, No. H043253 (6th Dist., Dec. 4,