The city council of California City, Calif., proposed a $75-per-parcel property tax to be placed on the ballot. The tax proceeds would be used for fire, police, parks, water and street purposes.

The town has more than 50,000 subdivided (mostly vacant) parcels but only 3,800 registered voters. At the election, more than 70 percent of the voters approved the $75-per-parcel special tax.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

However, non-resident property owner N.L. Neilson sued to challenge the tax vote result because he and most of the other vacant parcel owners could not vote on the tax increase that affected them. He argued the non-residents should have been allowed to vote.

If you were the judge, would you rule the 3,800 registered voters could enact a $75-per-parcel tax on 50,000 properties?

The judge said yes!

Although the number of eligible voter residents and the number of vacant property parcels is disproportionate, the judge began, there has been no law violation.

The equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution does not require non-resident landowners be given the right to vote on local issues such as property taxes, he explained. Votes are given only to residents within the jurisdiction, and non-resident landowners are not entitled to vote, he emphasized.

Therefore, this $75 parcel tax that was approved by more than 70 percent of the voters is valid, and a non-resident landowner has no right to overturn the result of that voter decision, the judge ruled.

Based on the 2005 California Court of Appeal decision in Neilson v. City of California City, 35 Cal.Rptr.3d 453.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

***

What’s your opinion? Send your Letter to the Editor to opinion@inman.com.

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