Tax Fight Over Long Beach Courthouse

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A developer that holds a 35-year leasehold interest in the Long Beach courthouse is not exempt from a property tax assessment despite a California statute that indicates it is, the county assessor claims in court.
     Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez sued the California State Board of Equalization in Superior Court.
     Noguez claims a California law passed in 2010 - Chapter 442 - unconstitutionally exempts developer Long Beach Judicial Partners from paying property tax, because the state constitution "requires the assessment of all non-exempt real property in proportion to its fair market value," including a privately held interest in government-owned property.
     The statute says that the state Constitution does not apply to the Gov. George Deukmejian Courthouse "because of the need to resolve the property tax issues potentially delaying the Long Beach courthouse replacement project and to mitigate the attendant risks of that delay to" California residents.
     The courthouse opened in 2013, replacing a 55-year-old building down the street, and costing a reported $340 million.
     Noguez claims a "leasehold interest in a government facility owned by a developer, in which the facility reverts to the public agency lessor at the conclusion of the lease term is an assessable taxable interest."
     Noguez seeks declaratory judgment that the law is unconstitutional and that he may enter a tax assessment against the developer, Long Beach Judicial Partners, for the 2013-2014 assessment year.