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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.

CA Supreme Court Case Permits Use of Pitchess Motions in Administrative Disciplinary Appeals

Client Alert

On December 1, 2014, the California Supreme Court held, in Riverside County Sheriff’s Department v. Stiglitz,et al. (Stiglitz), that a hearing officer in an administrative appeal of discipline of a correctional officer has the authority to rule upon a discovery motion for peace officer personnel records, commonly referred to as a Pitchess motion.

Governor Brown Signs Historic Groundwater Legislation - The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

On September 16, Governor Jerry Brown approved a trio of bills - AB 1739 (Dickinson), SB 1168 (Pavley), and SB 1319 (Pavley), collectively the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act - that address the regulation of groundwater in California, with the primary aim of sustainable management of unadjudicated groundwater basins throughout the state.  

State Water Board Issues Notice of Proposed Emergency Rulemaking for New Drought Water Conservation Regulations

Client Alert

On July 8, 2014 the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) issued a notice of proposed emergency rulemaking for regulations that would prohibit all individuals from engaging in certain water use practices and would require mandatory conservation-related actions of public water suppliers during the current drought emergency.

Peace Officer Retirement Identification Issues and the Related Endorsement to Carry a Concealed Weapon

Client Alert

This Client Alert provides a broad overview of the rights of retired peace officers when it comes to retirement identification certificates and carrying concealed firearm endorsements under California and federal law. The decision to deny or revoke a retired peace officer’s retirement identification or firearm endorsement should not be made before discussing with legal counsel.  Please feel free to contact our office with any additional questions.


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