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Silicon Valley Taxpayers Ass'n v. Santa Clara County Open Space Auth.

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20174
Nos. No. S136468, (Cal., 07/14/2008)

The Supreme Court of California invalidated a local agency's countywide property assessment intended to fund a program to acquire, improve, and maintain open space lands. The court first ruled that courts should exercise their independent judgment in reviewing whether assessments that local agencies impose violate the state constitution. As for the merits, the California Constitution provides that an assessment can be imposed only for a "special benefit" conferred on real property and that the assessment on any parcel must be in proportion to the special benefit conferred on the particular parcel. Here, the agency failed to demonstrate that the properties in the assessment district will receive a particular and distinct special benefit not shared by the district's property in general or by the public at large. Nor did the agency show that the properties will be assessed in proportion to the special benefits received.