Challenging local government taxing schemes

November 10, 2015 | By DAMIEN SCHIFF

Yesterday we filed our opening brief on appeal in Building Industry Association — Bay Area v. San Ramon.  The case, pending in the California court of appeal in San Francisco, concerns a challenge to a property tax levied by a City of San Ramon community facilities district.  Our appeal contends that the tax is illegal, for three reasons.  First, the tax violates the Mello-Roos Act’s authorization for community facilities district special taxes, because the tax’s proceeds will not be used to pay for any new or enhanced service to the City residents who pay the tax.  Second, the tax violates the California Constitution’s prohibition on special districts levying “general” taxes.  And third, the tax’s implementing ordinance unconstitutionally retaliates against City residents by threatening them with serious financial liabilities should they succeed in repealing the tax.