March 4, 2015

PLF goes to court tomorrow to challenge illegal tax on homeowners

By Anthony L. Francois Senior Attorney

Tomorrow morning I will be arguing in Contra Costa Superior Court against an illegal tax levied against new homeowners by the City of San Ramon, California. San Ramon used California’s Mello-Roos Act, the purpose of which is to fund new public facilities and new public services, to impose a parcel tax of more than $500 on select homeowners (above and beyond the usual property tax that these homeowners also pay) who will only get the same old public services that un-taxed homeowners receive.

This parcel tax is illegal. It is does not pay for any municipal services that are additional to those every other homeowner in the city gets for their property tax. So the homeowners singled out by the City will pay extra property taxes, but will get the same municipal services already provided to existing homeowners who do not pay the parcel tax.

This arrangement might be legal if the double-taxed homeowners were given an opportunity to vote on the parcel tax, and approved it. But that did not happened here. The City misused a special provision of the Mello-Roos Act to impose the new parcel tax on up to 2,500 undeveloped properties throughout the City, based on the single vote of one landowner. The City violated state law and the California constitution by imposing this special tax, as we will argue in court tomorrow.

Update: the Court has postponed tomorrow’s hearing until March 19, 2015.

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