Court Rejects Tax To Preserve Open Space

     SACRAMENTO (CN) – A tax assessment to preserve open space in Santa Clara County did not meet the standard of supporting a special benefit for citizens, the California Supreme Court ruled.

     The Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association appealed a decision by the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority, which taxed the county’s citizens to preserve open space.
     Justice Chin ruled that the assessment did not meet the test of conferring a “special benefit,” as outlined in the state constitution.
     In 1996 California voters passed Proposition 218, which tightened the requirements for local agencies to tax real property. The proposition calls for the judicial review of such assessments.
     The Court of Appeals had delivered a split decision in favor of the Open Space Authority, but Chin agreed with the dissenter in that opinion, Justice Bamattre-Manoukian. She said the authors of Proposition 218 had shifted the standard of review in favor of taxpayers in these cases.

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