Broad Beach Geologic Hazard etc. v. 31506 Victoria Point LLCAnnotate this Case
The City of Malibu formed the Broad Beach Geologic Hazard Abatement District (the District), to protect the homes on the city’s Broad Beach, threatened by longstanding shoreline erosion. The District developed a plan to import sand and maintain a revetment on portions of the beach, in order to fortify the shoreline. To fund this project, it proposed a special assessment on parcels within its boundaries, and homeowners approved the assessment. Litigation ensued, in which the District filed an action seeking to validate the assessment, and the homeowners opposing the assessment claimed it violated the requirements of Proposition 218, which added article XIII D to the California Constitution, limiting local government’s ability to impose assessments.
The trial court ultimately agreed with the challengers on these issues and invalidated the District’s assessment. After the court’s ruling on the merits, the challengers sought attorney fees under Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5, which codified the private attorney general doctrine of attorney fees.
The Second Appellate District affirmed the court’s judgment invalidating the assessment. The court held that Prop. 218 required the District to separate and quantify general benefits from the widened beach, regardless of whether those benefits imposed additional costs and without regard to the District’s subjective intent in designing the project. Further, the court wrote that it discerned no no error in the trial court’s determination and weighing of the challengers’ financial interest in the litigation.