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New Standards for MS4 Permit Requirements May Entitle Local Governments to Reimbursement

Client Alert

On December 19, 2017, the Court of Appeal issued a published opinion in Department of Finance v. Commission on State Mandates (2017) 18 Cal.App.5th 661 (petition for review filed Jan. 26, 2018, request for depublication filed Feb. 15, 2018) (“San Diego DOF Decision”).  The County of San Diego and the cities located in that county were seeking a determination that certain municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permit requirements imposed by the Regional Water Quality Control Board (“San Diego Regional Board”) are unfunded state mandates. The Court, applying a 2016 California Supreme Court decision, concluded that six permit requirements are unfunded mandates under the California Constitution and therefore local governments are entitled to reimbursement by the State. The six requirements are listed in the more detailed discussion of the case below.

Groundwater Charges Not Subject to Prop 218

Client Alert

On December 4, 2017, the California Supreme Court published its decision in City of San Buenaventura v. United Water Conservation District, holding that the statutorily authorized groundwater pumping charges imposed on the City of Buenaventura by a local water conservation district, the United Water Conservation District, to fund conservation activities such as replenishing groundwater stores and preventing degradation of water supply, are not subject to Proposition 218.  The Court also held that Proposition 26 is the proper framework for evaluating the constitutionality of the groundwater pumping charge.  The Court also remanded the matter to the Court of Appeal to determine whether the groundwater pumping charges bear a fair or reasonable relationship to the City’s burden on or benefit from the District’s conservation activities, as required by Proposition 26.

SB 231: A Watershed Moment?

Client Alert

On October 6, 2017, the Governor signed SB 231, which clarifies that the definition of “sewer” includes both sanitary sewers and storm sewers. Senator Hertzberg, the bill’s author, and the California Coastkeeper Alliance have called SB 231’s passage a “watershed moment” because SB 231 can make it easier for local agencies to finance projects which collect storm water and treat it for recycling or recharge.

However, at this time, agencies should not rely on SB 231 to pass separate fees or charges solely for storm sewer system operation, maintenance and capital costs.  This client alert explains why and provides context for SB 231.

California Court of Appeal Reaffirms Immunity for Police Pursuits

Client Alert

On August 23, 2017, the California Court of Appeal for the Second District addressed the requirements for a public agency employing peace officers to be entitled to immunity from liability under Vehicle Code Sec. 17004.7 for the conduct of officers during vehicle pursuits.  In Ramirez v. City of Gardena, the Court held in part that an agency’s pursuit policy may meet the standards of Sec. 17004.7 if it “provide[s] guidance to officers concerning factors to consider, even if [it] also leaves room for the exercise of individual discretion . . . .”

New Employer Notice to Employees Requirement for Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking Time Off

Client Alert

On September 14, 2016, the Governor signed AB 2337 into law.  While AB 2337 became effective on January 1, 2017, the new law did not require employers to comply with its notice requirements until the Labor Commissioner developed and posted a model notice on the Department of Industrial Relations’ website.  Employers could then use the model notice to inform their employees of their rights under Section 230.1.  The Labor Commissioner’s Office posted the model notice in May 2017.  This client alert provides an update on the amended law and the new notice requirement placed on supervisors.

DOL Changes CPI Index for LA-RIV-OC in 2018 with New Geographic Areas

Client Alert

Riverside to Become its Own Index

In 2018, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) will introduce a revised geographic area sample for the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”).[i]  Among the changes, Riverside, CA, will become its own index.  Thus, the current Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County statistical area will split into two separate statistical areas: the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim area and the new Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario area.  Any employers negotiating agreements with CPI increases or having existing agreements that carry into 2018 and beyond should note this change and plan for the geographic area sample changes starting on January 1, 2018.

Diploma Mills: How to Prevent Employees from Buying Questionable Degrees

Client Alert

Many public agency employers provide education incentives such as education pay and tuition reimbursement in their collective bargaining agreements with their employee organizations to promote employee pursuit of higher education.  As a result, there have been a growing number of employees obtaining degrees from a variety of different types of educational institutions and in a myriad of ways, ranging from the traditional in-person instruction to online classes to credit for “life experience.” What used to take 2 or 4 years to obtain a postsecondary school education can sometimes be achieved in a matter of months from questionable educational institutions, leading to issues of educational legitimacy and educational value.


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