Walker v. City of San ClementeAnnotate this Case
In 1989, defendant-appellant City of San Clemente created the “Beach Parking Impact Fee” because the City anticipated that substantial residential development proposed for the City’s inland areas would significantly increase the demand for public parking at the City’s beaches. The City imposed the Beach Parking Impact Fee on all new residential developments outside the City’s coastal zone to defray the cost of acquiring and constructing new beach parking facilities. Between 1989 and 2009, the City collected nearly $10 million in Beach Parking Impact Fees and accrued interest, but the City spent less than $350,000 to purchase a vacant parcel on which it has not constructed any parking facilities. Plaintiffs and respondents Daniel Walker, as Trustee for the 1997 Walker Family Trust, and W. Justin McCarthy (collectively, Plaintiffs) filed this action to compel the City to refund the unused portion of the Beach Parking Impact Fee. Plaintiffs alleged the five-year findings the City made in 2009 failed to satisfy the Act’s requirements and did not justify the City’s continued retention of the unexpended Beach Parking Impact Fees because the increased parking demand had not materialized over the ensuing 20 years. The trial court agreed and entered judgment ordering the City to refund approximately $10.5 million in unexpended impact fees to the current property owners on which the fees were imposed. The City appealed, contending it satisfied the Mitigation Fee Act’s requirement of five-year findings when it “receive[d] and file[d]” a 2009 staff report. Upon review, the Court of Appeal affirmed, finding that the City failed to make the five-year findings as required. The Court found that the report’s findings were mere conclusions, not the specific findings required under the Act. Consequently, the City failed to justify its continued retention of the unexpended impact fees.