BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    





                                                                AB 129

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        GOVERNOR'S VETO
        AB 129 (Beall)
        As Amended  August 16, 2011
        2/3 vote

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        |ASSEMBLY:  |46-17|(April 14,      |SENATE: |22-15|(August 30,    |
        |           |     |2011)           |        |     |2011)          |
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        ASSEMBLY:      50-27  (September 2, 2011)                   

         Original Committee Reference:    L. GOV.  

         SUMMARY  :  Authorizes a city or county after notice and public 
        hearing to specially assess and record a notice of lien for any 
        fines or penalties related to ordinance violations constituting a 
        public nuisance or threat to public health and safety on the real 
        property that the fines or penalties are being assessed or recorded 
        on if the owner of the real property fails to pay those fines or 
        penalties after demand by the city or county.  

         The Senate amendments:

         1)Provide that the powers given to the legislative body of a city, 
          county, or city and county under the provisions of this measure 
          are in addition to any other powers of a city, county, or city and 
          county under its charter or any other legal authority.  

        2)Require a city or county to mail or deliver notice of the hearing 
          at least 15 days prior to the public hearing at least 15 days 
          prior to the hearing to the owner on record of the parcel.  

        3)Remove public nuisance from the list of items that can cause a 
          lien to be recorded. 

        4)Add a sunset date of January 1, 2020. 

         EXISTING LAW  :

        1)Permits the legislative body of a city, county, school district, 










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          municipal corporation, district, political subdivision, or any 
          board, commission, or agency thereof, or other local public agency 
          to make any violation of any ordinance enacted by the legislative 
          body subject to an administrative fine or penalty.

        2)Permits cities and counties to establish by ordinance a procedure 
          to collect nuisance abatement costs and related administrative 
          costs by a nuisance abatement lien or a special assessment.

        3)Allows a county board of supervisors to delegate its powers and 
          duties to establish a nuisance abatement procedure to a hearing 
          officer pursuant to statutory provisions governing hearing 
          officers.

         AS PASSED BY THE ASSEMBLY  , this bill:

        1)Authorized a city or county after notice and public hearing to 
          specially assess and record a notice of lien for any fines or 
          penalties related to ordinance violations constituting a public 
          nuisance or threat to public health and safety on the real 
          property that the fines or penalties are being assessed or 
          recorded on if the owner of the real property fails to pay those 
          fines or penalties after demand by the city or county.

        2)Authorized the assessment imposed by a city or county to be 
          collected at the same time and in the same manner as ordinary 
          county taxes are collected, and requires all laws applicable to 
          the levy, collection, and enforcement of county taxes be 
          applicable to the assessment.

        3)Provided the assessment does not constitute an assessment lien, 
          and does not constitute a lien on real property until a notice of 
          lien is recorded, pursuant to these provisions.

        4)Required the notice of lien to, at a minimum, do all of the 
          following:

           a)   Identify the assessor's parcel number and record owner;

           b)   Set forth the last known address of the record owner;











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           c)   Set forth the date on which the assessment was ordered by 
             the city or county; and, 

           d)   The amount of the lien.

        5)Provided the recordation of a notice of lien has the same effect 
          as recordation of an abstract of a money judgment, as recorded 
          according to provisions in the California Code of Civil Procedure.

        6)Provided the lien created has the same force, effect, and priority 
          as a judgment lien on real property, and, upon order of the city, 
          county, or any officer authorized by the city or county to act on 
          its behalf, the lien may be released or subordinated in the same 
          manner as a judgment lien on real property may be released or 
          subordinated.

        7)Authorized a city or county through an ordinance to combine the 
          administrative procedures adopted for the imposition, enforcement, 
          collection, and administrative review for administrative fines or 
          penalties related to the violation of any ordinance with nuisance 
          abatement procedures that are adopted through ordinance.

        8)Authorized a city, county, school district, municipal corporation, 
          district, political subdivision, or any board, commission, or 
          agency thereof, or other local public agency to appoint one or 
          more hearing officers to hear and decide issues regarding 
          ordinance violations and the imposition of fines and penalties.

         FISCAL EFFECT  :  None

         COMMENTS  :  SB 814 (Alquist and Kopp), Chapter 898, Statutes of 1995, 
        which added Government Code Section 53069.4, was intended to 
        facilitate the implementation of the Administrative Citation 
        Ordinance as an efficient code enforcement methodology that would 
        avoid the necessity of a criminal prosecution.  Specifically, 
        Government Code Section 53069.4 was written to allow administrative 
        citations to closely mirror the parking citation program.  
        Subsequent amendments to that code section dealt with accommodating 
        changes in the municipal and superior courts.

        Under existing law, cities and counties are authorized to establish 










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        by ordinance a procedure to collect nuisance abatement costs and 
        related administrative costs by a nuisance abatement lien or a 
        special assessment.  At one point, there was a concern that special 
        assessments for the purpose of collecting the costs of nuisance 
        abatement were too slow a process for cities and counties and were 
        frustrating for private lenders.  Alternatively, abatement liens 
        were seen as a viable way to speed up cost recovery and relieve 
        lenders' worries because, unlike special assessments, which are 
        "superliens" and jump to the front of the line when collection comes 
        due, abatement liens assume a sequential priority with respect to 
        other financial claims against the real property.

        According to the author, this bill is intended to allow local 
        governments to make their code enforcement processes more efficient 
        and effective by authorizing them to make unpaid fine and penalties 
        for property-related code violations by a special assessment against 
        the property, allowing them to streamline their code enforcement 
        processes by combining their fine and penalties and nuisance 
        abatement processes.  This bill also will allow for a more 
        streamlined process for hearing officers for these administrative 
        procedures.  The author says existing law allows counties to use 
        hearing officers, but imposes certain procedural and substantive 
        requirements that make the use of hearing officers more onerous and 
        expensive.

        AB 2613 (Beall) of 2010 contained identical provisions.  The 
        Assembly Local Government Committee passed AB 2613 on a 6-3 vote.  
        The Governor vetoed AB 2613, saying:

        "It is important that the due process rights of homeowners are 
        balanced against a local government's right to collect an ordinance 
        violation fine.  The current system that requires a local government 
        to seek judicial approval to impose a lien properly balances these 
        opposing interests."

        Support arguments:  Supporters, County of Santa Clara, say, allowing 
        local agencies to use hearing officers and combine their 
        administrative fine/penalty and nuisance abatement processes, 
        streamlines code enforcement procedures.  Also, chronic and 
        unresolved code enforcement situations could be addressed quickly 
        and efficiently under this bill.










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        Opposition arguments:  Opposition, California Taxpayers Association, 
        say liens are a powerful tool that should only be used in the most 
        limited circumstances.  Expanding the liabilities for which a lien 
        may be imposed to fines could incentivize local governments to 
        increase fines and set a precedent for further expanding special 
        assessments and liens.  
         
        GOVERNOR'S VETO MESSAGE  :

        "At a time when property owners are struggling to pay their 
        mortgages, this bill would weaken the due process requirements for 
        local building departments to obtain property liens.  

        "Local governments already have a fair process in place, and I see 
        no reason to change it."




         Analysis Prepared by:     Katie Kolitsos / L. GOV. / (916) 319-3958 



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