On April 25, 2017, Dr. Benumof's clients Jerry Jackson and Chuck Schmidt filed a class-action Proposition 218 lawsuit against the City of Lincoln, CA over the City's use of tiered water rates. The suit was filed in Placer County Superior Court. The Lincoln News Messenger reported on the lawsuit on May 3, 2017; the full article can be accessed at:
At the center of the litigation, the City of Lincoln uses a five-tiered water rate structure based on gallons per month used:
- The Tier 1 charge is $1.78 per 1,000 gallons for 0 to 5,000 gallons used;
- The Tier 2 charge is $2.90 per 1,000 gallons for 5,001 to 14,000 gallons used;
- The Tier 3 charge is $4.84 per 1,000 gallons for 14,001 to 21,000 gallons used;
- The Tier 4 charge is $8.86 per 1,000 gallons for 21,001 to 35,000 gallons used, and
- The Tier 5 charge is $12.04 per 1,000 gallons for more than 35,000 gallons used.
Under Proposition 218, no property-related fees, such as water and sewer fees, may exceed the cost attributable to the property-owners land. Furthermore, these fees may not be used for purposes other than providing the property-related service — for example, for fire, police, and ambulance services.
Dr. Benumof was the lead trial and appellate attorney for the Capistrano Taxpayers Association, Inc. in the benchmark-setting Proposition 218 case Capistrano Taxpayers Association, Inc. v. City of San Juan Capistrano (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 1493, where the Fourth District Court of Appeal held that the City's tiered water rate structure for water service violated article XIII D, section 6 of the California Constitution, also known as Proposition 218. Dr. Benumof was also the co-lead trial attorney for the successful Petitioner in Glendale Coalition for Better Government v. City of Glendale (2017) (Los Angeles Superior Court, Case No. BS153253), a case that went to trial in January 2017.
If you are a taxpayer or property-owner and believe your local government has imposed fees, charges, and/or taxes in violation of Proposition 218, please contact Dr. Benumof at KKBS for a free consultation.