Albrecht v. County of RiversideAnnotate this Case
This appeal challenged the validity of a possessory interest tax imposed by the County of Riverside, California (the county) upon lessees of federally owned land set aside for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians (Agua Caliente tribe) or its members. A subset of the more than 450 plaintiffs in this appeal also challenged the validity of voter-approved taxes funding the Desert Water Agency, Coachella Valley Water District, Palm Springs Unified School District, Palo Verde School District, and Desert Community College District. A small minority of the plaintiffs claimed to hold a possessory interest in land set aside for the Colorado River Indian tribe (CRIT), but they argued the challenged taxes were invalid for the same reasons asserted by the other plaintiffs. A trial court upheld the validity of the challenged taxes and plaintiffs’ appeal, arguing the challenged taxes were preempted by federal law. The question of whether the county could impose a possessory interest tax on lessees of land set aside for the Agua Caliente tribe or its members was the subject of repeated litigation in both federal and state courts, and the validity of the county’s possessory interest tax in this context has been repeatedly upheld. During the pendency of this appeal, the Court of Appeal issued its decision in Herpel v. County of Riverside, 45 Cal.App.5th 96 (2020), again upholding the validity of the county’s possessory interest tax under almost identical circumstances as those presented here. Although plaintiffs claim that the Herpel decision was not controlling because it did not consider many of the arguments presented here, the Court concluded the facts and arguments presented in this case did not materially differ from those already considered in Herpel, and plaintiffs did not present any persuasive reason for the Court to depart from that recent decision.