Mendocino Redwood Co., LLC v. County of MendocinoAnnotate this Case
The Albion Little River Fire Protection District, organized under Health and Safety Code 13800, lies within a state responsibility area. MRC, a commercial timberland operator, owns 8,269.54 acres of commercial timberland within the District’s geographical boundaries. In 2014, the District adopted an ordinance that levied a special parcel tax, at the rate of $75 per unit, for fire protection, suppression, prevention, and related services. In a special election, 82 percent of District voters approved that ordinance. MRC has paid all taxes owed under the ordinance, under protest, and filed unsuccessful claims with Mendocino County seeking refunds. MRC filed complaints, citing Revenue and Taxation Code sections 5096 and 5097, alleging that the MRC parcels “were not included in the District because they were commercial forest lands and timbered lands declared to be in a state responsibility area within the meaning of [section] 13811.” The trial court agreed and found that MRC was owed $60,870.08, with interest. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting an argument that the refund claims were barred because they challenged the validity of the ordinance which was validated and immune from review by the time MRC filed its complaint. The action did not challenge the validity of the ordinance, but only its applicability to particular parcels.