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Department of Water Resources Granted Authority to Conduct Testing for Tunnel Project on Private Land Without Having to Pay Rent

Client Alert

A recent California Supreme Court decision increased the authority of the California Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) to enter upon private land.  This Alert provides an update on recent developments that impact local agencies and their authority to use private land.

13 Years and Two Trips to the Court of Appeals Later, A&W Attorneys Help the City of Carson Make New Law

The Subdivision Map Act allows the owner of a rental mobilehome park to convert the park from a landlord-tenant form of ownership to a subdivided condominium-style form of ownership.  A park owner must first obtain the approval of local government which has authority to “approve, conditionally approve, or disapprove” the application after holding a hearing to determine whether the park owner has complied with Section 66427.5 of that Act.

Local Agencies Granted Increased Authority for Drought-Related Civil Fines, May Not Issue Fines for Brown Lawns & Must Update Efficient Landscape Ordinances

Client Alert

The California Legislature and State agencies have been active this year developing various new rules regarding water use in California and local regulation thereof.  This Alert provides an update on several recent developments and proposed legislation that impact local agencies and how they regulate water use within their respective jurisdictions.

Pitchess Motions: California Supreme Court Reversed Court of Appeal Decision in People v. Superior Court (Johnson)

Client Alert

On July 6, 2015, the California Supreme Court unanimously reversed the First District Court of Appeal in People v. Superior Court (Johnson). The decision reaffirms that (1) prosecutors must comply with the Pitchess procedures if they seek information from confidential personnel records and (2) that the prosecution satisfies its Brady duty by disclosing to the defense that a testifying officer’s file may have material exculpatory information in it.

Fourth Appellate District Holds Transfers of Funds Collected As Sewer Service Fees to the City’s General Fund Did Not Violate Prop 218

Client Alert

On June 2, 2015, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District issued its decision in Jack Moore v. City of Lemon Grove et al., (“Lemon Grove”). The Lemon Grove Court evaluated whether transfers of funds collected by the Lemon Grove Sanitation District as sewer service fees to the City’s general fund violated Proposition 218. The Court found the subject transfers did not violate Proposition 218 because the fees were not spent for unrelated revenue purposes, did not exceed the cost of providing service, and were not imposed for general governmental services.

Tiered Water Rates and Proposition 218, "Capistrano Taxpayers Ass’n, Inc. v. City of San Juan Capistrano"

Client Alert

On April 20, 2015, the Fourth Appellate District issued its long-awaited decision in Capistrano Taxpayers Ass’n, Inc. v. City of San Juan Capistrano (“San Juan Capistrano”).  The San Juan Capistrano decision expressly rejects the idea that tiered water rates are inherently unconstitutional pursuant to Proposition 218.  However, the decision also holds that a tiered rate structure unsupported by actual cost of service calculations for each tier is unconstitutional.  As a result, unless San Juan Capistrano is reheard by the Fourth District or reviewed by the California Supreme Court, tiered rate structures may be vulnerable to challenge to the extent they are not tied to identifiable, incremental costs correlating to the tiers.

State Water Board Issues Notice to Amend and Readopt Emergency Drought Water Conservation Regulations

Client Alert

In July 2014, the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) adopted emergency regulations that prohibited all individuals from engaging in certain water use practices and required mandatory conservation-related actions of public water suppliers during the current drought emergency.  The regulations became effective July 28, 2014 and are currently set to expire on April 25, 2015, absent further action.

On March 6, 2015, a notice was issued stating that on March 17 the State Water Board will consider a resolution to readopt the existing emergency regulations with some updates, for an additional 270 days.

Preliminary Injunction Granted for the City of Rialto In Groundwater Litigation

Partner Fred Galante serves as City Attorney for the City of Rialto, and lawyers from Aleshire & Wynder’s Water Practice Group represent the City in a groundwater lawsuit against Fontana Water Company.  Along with co-plaintiffs City of Colton and West Valley Water District, Rialto sought a preliminary injunction against Fontana Water Company to limit the amount of water they extract yearly from a groundwater basin to a specified amount pursuant to a stipulated judgment from 1961.  Fontana Water Company has extracted water in excess of its allotment for several years, which is what the plaintiffs seek to remedy with the litigation.  On February 13, 2015, San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Bryan Foster granted a motion for a preliminary injunction in Rialto’s favor after Partner Wesley A. Miliband and Associate Miles P. Hogan appeared and argued at the hearing on Rialto’s behalf.  Fontana Water Company must comply with the ruling and cannot extract water beyond its entitlement for the remainder of this water year and the pending litigation.  

Court Holds City Electric Utility’s PILOT Is Subject to Proposition 26

Client Alert

On January 20, 2015, the Third District Court of Appeal issued one of few published decisions interpreting Proposition 26.  The Court in Citizens for Fair REU Rates et al. v. City of Redding (Third District Court of Appeals Case No. C071906, decided January 20, 2015), held that the City of Redding’s Electrical Utility’s payment to the City in lieu of taxes (PILOT) is subject to Proposition 26 and that the City did not meet its burden to establish cost of service restrictions mandated by Proposition 26.  The Redding decision does not reject PILOTs as a matter of law, but holds that an agency does not meet its burden to establish compliance with the cost restrictions of Proposition 26 by relying solely on a PILOT rate that matches the ad valorem tax rate.

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