President's weekly report — March 28, 2014
Endangered Species Act — Saving Lolita
We had an adverse decisionthis week from the Court of Appeal in SDS Family Trust v. California Coastal Commission. The Court ruled that the family could not challenge the mile-long easement imposed on its property because the family should have appealed years ago, when another conditioned permit was issued. We think the Court misunderstood the facts here, and are assessing our options.
Property Rights — Mandatory “Affordable Housing”
Several amicus briefs were filed in our challenge to mandatory “affordable housing” mandates in California Building Association – Bay Area v. San Jose. The requirement that builders of market-rate homes build or subsidize “affordable housing,” here with fees over $100,000 per unit, reflects the economic illiteracy of the proponents. This amicus brief from the National Association of Homebuilders is especially helpful in demonstrating that these mandates raise the market price of homes — only exacerbating any shortage of affordable housing.
Property Rights — Illegal Taxes
We filed our complaint and petition for writ of mandate in California Building Industry — Bay Area v. City of San Ramon. In this case the City is imposing a new special property tax district, which will levy a tax on landowners of undeveloped lots without providing any additional services. The Mello-Roos Act specifically forbids such a “pay something – get nothing” special property tax. And because the proceeds will be used for general government services, the tax also violates California’s Proposition 218, which requires voter approval for “general” taxes. While we have sympathy for the fact that San Ramon is feeling a bit tight these days because its having trouble coming up with the money to pay for its generous pension promises to its employees, forcing landowners to cough up illegal taxes is not the way to pay off this debt.
Environment — Clean Air Act
We filed our opening brief this week in the D.C. Circuit in California Construction Trucking Association v. EPA, our challenge to EPA’s Light Duty Vehicle Regulations. Those are the regulations designed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gasses believed to contribute to global warming. All regulations must be enacted in accordance with specific procedures set out by statute. Here, these regulations bypassed as specific step — preadoption review by the Science Advisory Board. Our clients will be severely impacted by these regulations so it is only fair that they be adopted pursuant to lawful procedures.
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