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Measure H case: The decision

Submitted by on 1, June 4, 2010 – 4:40 amOne Comment

Wanted to post a quick follow-up once I got my hands on the actual decision by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Mark Burr on the Measure H invalidation suits before him in court. In a nutshell, Burr ruled against the plaintiffs, saying that Measure H is indeed uniform and the exemptions it offers to senior homeowners and some other people with disabilities are kosher.

From the ruling:

Assuming that the Legislature did not intend the word “uniformly” to have the same meaning as when the term is used in other taxing schemes, Plaintiffs do not explain what kind of uniformity the Legislature intended to require. A rational argument can be made that a special tax imposing a flat rate on each parcel, regardless of size or use, lacks uniformity because its effect is to tax smaller parcels more heavily per square foot than larger parcels. Similarly, a special tax based solely on square footage does not treat properties uniformly, in that it makes no provisions for the uses made of particular property. It would, for example, over tax properties that are vacant and likely to receive less benefit from the special tax. Given that the legislative history fails to show that the (L)egislature intended the word “uniformly” to have the meaning ascribed by the Plaintiffs, and in the absence of any indication that “uniformly” was intended to restrict the electorate’s discretion by imposing absolute tax uniformity in some particular way, the Court concludes that this was intended.

Plaintiffs in the Borikas and Beery cases contended that the tax is illegal because residents pay a different rate than commercial property owners, and large commercial property owners pay a different rate than smaller ones. They plan to appeal their case once a judgment is filed.

In the meantime, if you’re so inclined, you can check out the decision below.

One Comment »

  • Jon Spangler says:

    Knowing about this decision against the Measure H plaintiffs makes voting for Measure E that much easier for me.
    We always supported H and E despite the supposed inequities that Borikas and others claimed.

    The real problem is in Sacramento, but nothing about the Borikas suit has affected matters in the Legislature or the Governor’s office. IF the plaintiffs really wanted to help resolve the admitted inequities in parcel taxes, they would have spent their money on lobbying in Sacramento instead of taking out their frustrations on a cash-strapped school district.

    If they want to see real inequity, take a look at what will happen to Alameda’s kids if Measure E fails to pass.


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