Laws, Regulations & Annotations
Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2013
Additional Government Code Provisions
Provisions Relating to Voter-Approved Special Taxes
TITLE 5. LOCAL AGENCIES
DIVISION 1. CITIES AND COUNTIES
PART 1. POWERS AND DUTIES COMMON TO CITIES AND COUNTIES
Chapter 1. General
Article 3.5. Voter-Approved Special Taxes*
50076. "Special tax" does not include fees. As used in this article, "special tax" shall not include any fee which does not exceed the reasonable cost of providing the service or regulatory activity for which the fee is charged and which is not levied for general revenue purposes.
Construction.—This section provides a narrow exception to Article XIIIA, Section 4 of the Constitution. Any fee which falls within the definition of a service or regulatory fee, i.e., one which can be shown to be reasonably related to the cost of the service for which it is imposed, is not a "special tax" under Article XIIIA, Section 4 and thus, is exempt from the two-thirds voter approval requirement. However, the local agency seeking to avoid the general rule has the burden of establishing that its fee fits the exception. Beaumont Investors v. Beaumont-Cherry Valley Water District, 165 Cal.App.3d 227. The determination of whether a particular fee is a development fee or a special tax under Article XIIIA, Section 4 is a question of law, and a local agency seeking to impose such a fee bears the burden of demonstrating that the fee it seeks to impose is excepted from the two-thirds voter approval requirement. Carlsbad Municipal Utility District v. QLC. Corporation, 2 Cal.App.4th 479. A mitigation fee payable by a developer as a condition of a city's approval of land-use changes allowing building is not a special tax under Article XIIIA, Section 4 of the Constitution or under this Section. Ehrlich v. City of Culver City, 15 Cal.App.4th 1737. A city seeking to establish that its fire hydrant fee fit the exemption did not meet its burden of proof where the record failed to establish whether the method employed by the city for determining the amount of the fee bore a fair and reasonable relation to the payer's benefit from the fee. Bixel Associates v. City of Los Angeles, 216 Cal.App.3d 1208.
* Article 3.5 was added by Stats. 1979, Ch. 903, in effect September 22, 1979.