Exactions and Assessments

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,

School impact fees for an apartment complex must be calculated based on the square footage of both the individual units and other space within the interior of the buildings, such as hallways and elevator shafts. 1901 First Street Owner v. Tustin Unified School District, 21 Cal. App. 5th 1186 (2018).

School impact fees under Government Code section 65995 are based on “assessable space,” defined as “all of the square footage within the perimeter of a residential structure, not including any carport, covered or uncovered walkway, garage, overhang, patio, enclosed patio, detached accessory structure, or similar area.” (§ 65995(b)(1).) This square footage is to be “calculated by the building department of the city or county issuing the building permit, in accordance with the standard practice of that city or county in calculating structural perimeters.” (Id.)

The City of Tustin calculated the square footage of an apartment building owned by 1901 First Street using a “net rentable” method — the City’s standard practice at that time — which included the square footage of the individual apartment units but excluded everything else in the building. The school district objected to this method, contending that the statute required all space within the perimeter of the building to be included. The City then revised its square footage calculation based on the perimeter of the building, which resulted in an increase in the fee of over $238,000. First Street sued to recover the difference.
Continue Reading School Fees for Apartment Buildings Not Limited to Square Footage of Individual Units

school halls

The California Court of Appeal yesterday lifted a stay it had imposed in a lawsuit by the California Building Industry Association challenging implementation of “Level 3” school facilities fees. Lifting the stay allows the California State Allocation Board to formally notify the Legislature that it is no longer apportioning State funds for school facilities. Receipt

A Mello-Roos tax on new residential development to finance a wide variety of governmental services was a valid special tax, not a general tax to fund existing municipal services. Building Industry Association of the Bay Area v. City of San Ramon 4 Cal.App.5th 62 (2016)

An analysis performed by the City of San Ramon showed

A Sacramento Superior Court judge has issued a temporary restraining order barring the State Allocation Board from formally notifying the California Senate and Assembly that state funds for new school facility construction are no longer available. The order, issued yesterday, effectively blocks implementation of Level 3 school fees, which would otherwise have been triggered as