Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2017

California Constitutional Provisions

Article XIII D Assessment and Property-Related Fee Reform

Section 3

Sec. 3. Property taxes, assessments, fees, and charges limited.
(a) No tax, assessment, fee, or charge shall be assessed by any agency upon any parcel of property or upon any person as an incident of property ownership except:

(1) The ad valorem property tax imposed pursuant to Article XIII and Article XIII A.

(2) Any special tax receiving a two-thirds vote pursuant to Section 4 of Article XIII A.

(3) Assessments as provided by this article.

(4) Fees or charges for property related services as provided by this article.

(b) For purposes of this article, fees for the provision of electrical or gas service shall not be deemed charges or fees imposed as an incident of property ownership.

Construction.—A port district cannot impose an assessment to raise funds under Harbors and Navigation Code Section 6365 to satisfy a judgment obtained against it, since the district's assessment would not specially benefit the parcels upon which it would be imposed. Subdivision (a) provides that an assessment may not exceed the reasonable cost of the proportional special benefit conferred on the parcel, and that only special benefits are assessable. Ventura Group Ventures, Inc. v. Ventura Port District, 24 Cal.4th 1089. A non-ad valorem tax may be imposed upon real property if the tax is a "special" tax dedicated to specific purposes and approved "by a two-thirds vote of the qualified electors of" the city, county, or special district imposing the tax. A special tax can be used for more than one purpose without losing its status as a special tax. Neilson v. City of California City, 133 Cal.App.4th 1296.

Inspection Fee.—An inspection fee imposed upon landlords in their capacity as business owners, not in their capacity as landowners, does not fall within the scope of this article, which applies only to exactions levied solely by virtue of property ownership. Apartment Assn. of Los Angeles County, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, 24 Cal.4th 830.

Groundwater augmentation fee.—A groundwater augmentation fee to be charged to operators of wells who extract water from the wells for the purposes of paying the costs of purchasing, capturing, storing, and distributing supplemental water for use, while not a tax or assessment, is a property-related fee or charge "imposed . . . as an incident of property ownership," and, thus, subject to constitutional preconditions for the imposition of such charges. Pajaro Valley Water Mgmt. Agency v. Amrhein, 150 Cal.App.4th 1364.

Water and sewer charges.—Under the rule of construction that the expression of some things in a statute implies the exclusion of other things not expressed, since this section expressly excludes electrical and gas service charges as not being within the category of property-related fees, such expression implies that similar charges for other utility services, such as water and sewer, are property-related fees subject to the restrictions of Article XIII D. Richmond v. Shasta Community Services Dist., 32 Cal.4th 409.