City of Huntington Beach v. BecerraAnnotate this Case
The City of Huntington Beach filed a petition for writ of mandamus and a complaint for declaratory relief to “invalidate the unconstitutional mandates of the [CVA] that impermissibly strip the City’s constitutionally protected Charter authority with respect to local ‘municipal affairs.’” Each cause of action alleged the CVA unconstitutionally violated the City’s authority to conduct municipal affairs guaranteed under article XI, section 5 of the California Constitution by mandating how the City operates its police force. The City also prayed for a declaration that the CVA is unconstitutional and preempted by article XI, section 5 of the California Constitution. The trial court granted the City’s petition for writ of mandamus and a peremptory writ of mandate was issued ordering the Attorney General to refrain from enforcing Government Code section 7284.6 against the City. In a statement of decision, the court found: (1) the “constitution, regulation and government” of a police force was a “quintessential municipal affair under [Section] 5(a)”; (2) the “constitution, regulation and government” of a police force was “a municipal prerogative” protected by Section 5(b); and (3) “there was no ‘statewide concern’ justifying the state[’]s regulation of a Charter City’s police force.” The issue before the Court of Appeal was whether charter cities were exempt from compliance with Government Code section 7284.6 on the ground it infringed the authority of charter cities under article XI, section 5(b) of the California Constitution to create, regulate, and govern city police forces. The Court held section 7284.6 was constitutional as applied to charter cities because it addressed matters of statewide concern - including public safety and health, effective policing, and protection of constitutional rights - was reasonably related to resolution of those statewide concerns, and was narrowly tailored to avoid unnecessary interference in local government. Because the trial court concluded otherwise, and granted a petition for writ of mandamus brought by the City, the Court of Appeal reversed with directions to deny the writ petition and enter judgment in favor of the Attorney General.