Escondido, CA

BIA sues city over Mello-Roos ordinance

The Building Industry Association of San Diego County (BIA) earlier this year sued the City of Escondido and City Council of Escondido for what it says are unlawful acts.  It asks for relief from the court.

Not surprisingly, the city disputes the lawsuit and asks the court to dismiss the case.

The council on September 23, 2020 passed an ordinance “to require fees or other

25 exactions to offset impacts to ongoing municipal services required for development projects,”  and to require that applicants for new residential development permits must agree to 1) annex into a new “Mello-Roos Community Facilities District (CFD) for services” which, the plaintiff claims, imposes “unlawful and arbitrary new ‘special taxes’ on their properties and new residents” or 2) establish an ad hoc  “alternative funding mechanism” acceptable to the City, which would, says the lawsuit, require  “payment of unlawful ‘impact fees’ to offset fiscal impacts to city services.

According to the lawsuit, “The Respondents’ actions have the immediate effect of establishing new, unlawful, ‘high fees and exactions’ to be imposed against new residents, and against the producers of new housing, in Escondido.” The lawsuit claims “any such purported fees or exactions to fund generally-available public services would be unconstitutional (Cal. Const. art., XIII C and XIII D.)”

It claims that the adoption of the ordinance “were unauthorized and in excess of the limited powers delegated to the City under the state or federal constitutions, state law, and local ordinances or charters.”

The lawsuit points to the city’s existing “structural budget deficit” that is unrelated to an impacts of new residential development. 

The city filed its 23 page answer to the lawsuit in August. It has, in all, 26 “affirmative defenses,” which, in lawyer speak, means that the city denies and disputes all of the points that the BIA makes in its filing.

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