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SB-231 Local government: fees and charges.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 04/19/2017 09:00 PM
SB231:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  April 19, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 231


Introduced by Senator Hertzberg

February 02, 2017


An act to amend Section 53750 of, and to add Section 53751 to, the Government Code, relating to local government finance.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 231, as amended, Hertzberg. Local government: fees and charges.
Articles XIII C and XIII D of the California Constitution generally require that assessments, fees, and charges be submitted to property owners for approval or rejection after the provision of written notice and the holding of a public hearing. Existing law, the Proposition 218 Omnibus Implementation Act, prescribes specific procedures and parameters for local jurisdictions to comply with Articles XIII C and XIII D of the California Constitution and defines terms for these purposes.
This bill would define the term “sewer” for these purposes. The bill would also make findings and declarations relating to the definition of the term “sewer” for these purposes.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NO   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 53750 of the Government Code is amended to read:

53750.
 For purposes of Article XIII C and Article XIII D of the California Constitution and this article, the following words have the following meanings, and shall be read and interpreted in light of the findings and declarations contained in Section 53751:
(a) “Agency” means any local government as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 1 of Article XIII C of the California Constitution.
(b) “Assessment” means any levy or charge by an agency upon real property that is based upon the special benefit conferred upon the real property by a public improvement or service, that is imposed to pay the capital cost of the public improvement, the maintenance and operation expenses of the public improvement, or the cost of the service being provided. “Assessment” includes, but is not limited to, “special assessment,” “benefit assessment,” “maintenance assessment,” and “special assessment tax.”
(c) “District” means an area that is determined by an agency to contain all of the parcels that will receive a special benefit from a proposed public improvement or service.
(d) “Drainage system” means any system of public improvements that is intended to provide for erosion control, for landslide abatement, or for other types of water drainage.
(e) “Extended,” when applied to an existing tax or fee or charge, means a decision by an agency to extend the stated effective period for the tax or fee or charge, including, but not limited to, amendment or removal of a sunset provision or expiration date.
(f) “Flood control” means any system of public improvements that is intended to protect property from overflow by water.
(g) “Identified parcel” means a parcel of real property that an agency has identified as having a special benefit conferred upon it and upon which a proposed assessment is to be imposed, or a parcel of real property upon which a proposed property-related fee or charge is proposed to be imposed.
(h) (1) “Increased,” when applied to a tax, assessment, or property-related fee or charge, means a decision by an agency that does either of the following:
(A) Increases any applicable rate used to calculate the tax, assessment, fee, or charge.
(B) Revises the methodology by which the tax, assessment, fee, or charge is calculated, if that revision results in an increased amount being levied on any person or parcel.
(2) A tax, fee, or charge is not deemed to be “increased” by an agency action that does either or both of the following:
(A) Adjusts the amount of a tax, fee, or charge in accordance with a schedule of adjustments, including a clearly defined formula for inflation adjustment that was adopted by the agency prior to November 6, 1996.
(B) Implements or collects a previously approved tax, fee, or charge, so long as the rate is not increased beyond the level previously approved by the agency, and the methodology previously approved by the agency is not revised so as to result in an increase in the amount being levied on any person or parcel.
(3) A tax, assessment, fee, or charge is not deemed to be “increased” in the case in which the actual payments from a person or property are higher than would have resulted when the agency approved the tax, assessment, fee, or charge, if those higher payments are attributable to events other than an increased rate or revised methodology, such as a change in the density, intensity, or nature of the use of land.
(i) “Notice by mail” means any notice required by Article XIII C or XIII D of the California Constitution that is accomplished through a mailing, postage prepaid, deposited in the United States Postal Service and is deemed given when so deposited. Notice by mail may be included in any other mailing to the record owner that otherwise complies with Article XIII C or XIII D of the California Constitution and this article, including, but not limited to, the mailing of a bill for the collection of an assessment or a property-related fee or charge.
(j) “Record owner” means the owner of a parcel whose name and address appears on the last equalized secured property tax assessment roll, or in the case of any public entity, the State of California, or the United States, means the representative of that public entity at the address of that entity known to the agency.
(k) “Sewer” means services and systems provided by includes systems, all real estate, fixtures, and personal property owned, controlled, operated, or managed in connection with or to facilitate sewage collection, treatment, or disposition for sanitary or drainage purposes, including lateral and connecting sewers, interceptors, trunk and outfall lines, sanitary sewage treatment or disposal plants or works, drains, conduits, outlets for surface or storm waters, and any and all other works, property, or structures necessary or convenient for the collection or disposal of sewage, industrial waste, or surface or storm waters. “Sewer system” shall not include a sewer system that merely collects sewage on the property of a single owner.
(l) “Registered professional engineer” means an engineer registered pursuant to the Professional Engineers Act (Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 6700) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code).
(m) “Vector control” means any system of public improvements or services that is intended to provide for the surveillance, prevention, abatement, and control of vectors as defined in subdivision (k) of Section 2002 of the Health and Safety Code and a pest as defined in Section 5006 of the Food and Agricultural Code.
(n) “Water” means any system of public improvements intended to provide for the production, storage, supply, treatment, or distribution of water from any source.

SEC. 2.

 Section 53751 is added to the Government Code, to read:

53751.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) The ongoing, historic drought has made clear that California must invest in a 21st century water management system capable of effectively meeting the economic, social, and environmental needs of the state.
(b) Sufficient and reliable funding to pay for local water projects is necessary to improve the state’s water infrastructure.
(c) Proposition 218 was approved by the voters at the November 5, 1996, statewide General Election. general election. Some court interpretations of the law have constrained important tools that local governments need to manage storm water and drainage runoff.
(d) Storm waters are carried off in storm sewers, and careful management is necessary to ensure adequate state water supplies, especially during drought, and to reduce pollution. But a court decision has excluded found storm water from those subject to the voter-approval provisions of Proposition 218 that apply to property-related fees for sewer and water, fees, preventing many important projects from being built.
(e) The court of appeal in Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Ass’n v. City of Salinas (2002) 98 Cal.App.4th 1351 concluded that the term “sewer,” as used in Proposition 218, is “ambiguous” and declined to use the statutory definition of the term “sewer system” system,” which was part of the then-existing law as Section 230.5 of the Public Utilities Code.
(f) The court in Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Ass’n v. City of Salinas (2002) 98 Cal.App.4th 1351 failed to follow long-standing principles of statutory construction by disregarding the plain meaning of the term “sewer.” Courts have long held that statutory construction rules apply to initiative measures, including in cases that apply specifically to Proposition 218 (see People v. Bustamante (1996) (1997) 57 Cal.App.4th 693, 693; Keller v. Chowchilla Water Dist. (2000) 80 Cal.App.4th 1006). When construing statutes, courts look first to the words of the statute, which should be given their usual, ordinary, and commonsense meaning (People v. Mejia (2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 586, 611). The purpose of utilizing the plain meaning of statutory language is to spare the courts the necessity of trying to divine the voters’ intent by resorting to secondary or subjective indicators. The court in Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Ass’n v. City of Salinas (2002) 98 Cal.App.4th 1351 asserted its belief as to what most voters thought when voting for Proposition 218, but did not cite the voter pamphlet or other accepted sources for determining legislative intent. Instead, the court substituted its own judgment for the judgment of voters.
(g) Neither the words “sanitary” nor “sewerage” are used in Proposition 218, and the common meaning of the term “sewer services” is not “sanitary sewerage.” In fact, the phrase “sanitary sewerage” is uncommon.
(h) Proposition 218 exempts sewer and water services from the voter-approval requirement. Sewer and water services are commonly considered to have a broad reach, encompassing the provision of clean water and then addressing the conveyance and treatment of dirty water, whether that water is rendered unclean by coming into contact with sewage or by flowing over the built-out human environment and becoming urban runoff.

(g)

(i) Numerous sources predating Proposition 218 reject the notion that the term “sewer” applies only to sanitary sewers, sewers and sanitary sewerage, including, but not limited to:
(1) Section 230.5 of the Public Utilities Code. Code, added by Chapter 1109 of the Statutes of 1970.
(2) Section 23010.3, which was first added by Chapter 1193 of the Statutes of 1963.
(3) The Street Improvement Act of 1913 (repealed by Chapter 346 of the Statutes of 1963). 1913.
(4) The California Supreme Court stated in Los Angeles L.A. County Flood Control District Dist. v. Southern California Cal. Edison Co. (1958) 51 Cal.2d 331, where the California Supreme Court stated that “no distinction has been made between sanitary sewers and storm drains or sewers.”
(5) The term, Many other cases where the term “sewer” has been used interchangeably to refer to both sanitary and storm sewers in many other cases, including, include, but are not limited to, County of Riverside v. Whitlock (1972) 22 Cal.App.3d 863, Ramseier v. Oakley Sanitary Dist. (1961) 197 Cal.App.2d 722, and Torson v. Fleming (1928) 91 Cal.App. 168.
(6) Dictionary definitions of sewer, which courts have found to be an objective source for determining common or ordinary meaning, including Websters Webster’s (1976), American Heritage (1969), and Oxford English Dictionary (1971).

(h)

(j) Prior legislation has affirmed particular interpretations of words in Proposition 218, specifically Assembly Bill 2403 of the 2013–14 Regular Session (Chapter 78 of the Statutes of 2014).
(k) In Crawley v. Alameda Waste Management Authority (2015) 243 Cal.App.4th 396, the Court of Appeal relied on the statutory definition of “refuse collection services” to interpret the meaning of that phrase in Proposition 218, and found that this interpretation was further supported by the plain meaning of refuse. Consistent with this decision, in determining the definition of “sewer,” the plain meaning rule shall apply in conjunction with the definitions of terms as provided in Section 53750.

(i)

(l) The Legislature reaffirms and reiterates that the definition found in Section 230.5 of the Public Utilities Code is the definition of “sewer” or “sewer service” that should be used in the Proposition 218 Omnibus Implementation Act.
(m) Courts have read the Legislature’s definition of “water” in the Proposition 218 Omnibus Implementation Act to include related services. In Griffith v. Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency (2013) 220 Cal.App.4th 586, the Court of Appeal concurred with the Legislature’s view that “water service means more than just supplying water,” based upon the definition of water provided by the Proposition 218 Omnibus Implementation Act, and found that actions necessary to provide water can be funded through fees for water service. Consistent with this decision, “sewer” should be interpreted to include services necessary to collect, treat, or dispose of sewage, industrial waste, or surface or storm waters, and any entity that collects, treats, or disposes of any of these necessarily provides sewer service.