Governor Brown Signs Brown Lawn Bill By Assembly Member Brown

By Michael Reiter Attorney at Law

You may have seen the articles about the new California law that permits dead lawns during the drought. Here is the text of AB1, introduced by Assembly Member Cheryl Brown (D-San Bernardino):

ENROLLED   JUNE 29, 2015
PASSED  IN  SENATE  JUNE 22, 2015
PASSED  IN  ASSEMBLY  JUNE 25, 2015
AMENDED  IN  SENATE  JUNE 16, 2015
CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2015–2016 REGULAR SESSION
ASSEMBLY BILL No. 1

Introduced by Assembly Member Brown
(Coauthor: Senator Nielsen)
December 01, 2014

An act to add Section 8627.7 to the Government Code, relating to water.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 1, Brown. Drought: local governments: fines.
The California Constitution requires that the water resources of the state be put to beneficial use to the fullest extent of which they are capable and that the waste or unreasonable use or unreasonable method of use of water be prevented. Existing law, the California Emergency Services Act, sets forth the emergency powers of the Governor under its provisions and empowers the Governor to proclaim a state of emergency for certain conditions, including drought.
This bill would prohibit a city, county, or city and county from imposing a fine under any ordinance for a failure to water a lawn or having a brown lawn during a period for which the Governor has issued a proclamation of a state of emergency based on drought conditions.

DIGEST KEY

Vote: majority   Appropriation: no   Fiscal Committee: no   Local Program: no  


BILL TEXT

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1.

The Legislature finds and declares both of the following:

(a) That this act is in furtherance of the policy contained in Section 2 of Article X of the California Constitution.
(b) The prohibition on imposing fines for failing to water a lawn or for having a brown lawn during a period for which the Governor has issued a proclamation of a state of emergency based on drought conditions is a matter of statewide concern and not a municipal affair, as that term is used in Section 5 of Article XI of the California Constitution. Therefore, Section 2 of this act shall apply to charter cities.

SEC. 2.

Section 8627.7 is added to the Government Code, to read:

8627.7.

(a) During a period for which the Governor has issued a proclamation of a state of emergency under this chapter based on drought conditions, a city, county, or city and county shall not impose a fine under any ordinance for a failure to water a lawn or for having a brown lawn.

(b) A violation of this section is not subject to the criminal penalties set forth in Section 8665.

What does this mean?  It means that cities, counties, and the state’s only City and County (San Francisco) cannot impose a fine under existing property maintenance ordinances during the drought. The Senate Floor analysis expressly states this applies to charter cities:

 Apply to charter cities because the prohibition of fines imposed for

failing to water a lawn or having a brown lawn during a period for which the

Governor has issued a proclamation of a state of emergency based on

drought conditions is a matter of statewide concern and not a municipal

affair, as that term is used in Section 5 of Article XI of the California

Constitution.

It passed the Assembly by a vote of 80-0  on June 25, 2015. The bill passed the California Senate by a vote of 37 Yes, 0 No, and 3 No Votes Recorded (Senators Hall, Morrell and Pavley). Senator Isidore Hall III is a Democrat representing the South Bay of Los Angeles (35th District), Senator Mike Morrell is a Republican serving the 23rd Senatorial District including Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands and San Bernardino, and Senator Fran Pavley is a Democrat representing 27th District representing parts of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

The legislative history tells us which cities were seen by Assembly Member Brown as the most egregious violators:

From the Assembly Floor Analysis June 24, 2015:

In the most severe situation provided by the author, a homeowner in the City of Upland faced

misdemeanor charges for “failing to follow city code, and properly maintaining his front yard

and parkway space,” according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, stemming from the

homeowner’s decision to stop watering his lawn in August of 2013.  As of January 2015, that

homeowner planned to go to trial, and faced, according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin,

up to $4,000 in fines, or six months in jail.  The homeowner was offered a deal several times

to reduce the amount of the fine if he corrected the issue, but he opted instead to go to trial.

Assembly Member Brown also singled out the cities of Glendale and San Bernardino.

In a nightmare for municipal lawyers trying to find this section for years in the future, this law was placed in Title 2 (Government of the State of California), Division 1 (General), Chapter 7 (California Emergency Services Act), Article 13 (State of Emergency). I understand why (because it deals with the declaration of the drought emergency), but it probably would have been more visible elsewhere.

The Senate Analysis states supporters “argue that this bill is straight-forward and provides a

common sense measure to ensure households are not penalized for conserving water.”

What will a defense to an administrative citation or criminal citation for unmaintained landscaping look like?  Hopefully, local public entities will voluntarily stop citing brown lawns during the drought.  However, if they don’t, a criminal demurrer, or an appeal of an administrative citation should do the trick.

A: 300 E. State St. #517, Redlands CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708

Code Enforcement Gone Wild

I was a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino and the Assistant City Attorney for the City of Redlands. Along with another Deputy, I advised what was then the Code Enforcement Department in San Bernardino.  The City of Redlands had different code enforcement issues than the City of San Bernardino, but code enforcement was an important part of my job in Redlands.

We were not on the leading edge in San Bernardino (everything we did was pioneered at larger cities), but we tried to employ as many code enforcement tools as possible. We were never successfully sued in a code enforcement case while I was there.

However, now that I represent citizens, I see all kind of ticky-tack things that other entities do.  Here is an article from the Salt Lake Tribune

“Ogden tells dad to take down his kids’ cardboard castle because it’s ‘junk'”

Now, this is in Utah, but most cities and counties in California have a similar ordinance that prohibits junk, trash, and debris in your front yard.  However, just because it’s technically illegal doesn’t mean that the City should cite for it.

Looking at the link from the story, this is the City of Ogden ordinance:

 

12-4-2: WASTE MATERIALS OR JUNK; PROHIBITED ON PREMISES:

A. Prohibition: It is unlawful for any owner, occupant, agent or lessee of real property within the city, to allow, cause or permit the following material or objects to be in or upon any yard, garden, lawn, or outdoor premises of such property:

1. Junk or salvage material;

2. Litter;

3. Any abandoned vehicle or inoperable vehicle.

In California, our ordinances tend not to be as vague as this code section.

Does a cardboard castle even qualify as “junk” or “litter?” If it were in California and I were reviewing a notice (which I believe I did sometimes in Redlands) or a citation (in San Bernardino), I would probably turn it down.

As I teach code enforcement officers in training, just because something can be cited doesn’t mean it should be.

I think the reaction by the resident was the right course of action.

“Had he not received the letter, he was planning on taking the castle down soon anyway. But after receiving it, he now plans to keep it up until just before the penalty.”

A: 300 E. State St. #517, Redlands CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708

Waldo Willhoft, City Attorney of San Bernardino

This post was originally written in October 2013, but never published.

Last night was the San Bernardino County Bar Association’s Annual Installation & Awards Banquet at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino.  The back of the program has the Past Presidents of the San Bernardino County Bar Association’s Past Presidents from 1875-1913.  Of interest to me was the 1960-1961 President, Waldo Willhoft.

I knew that Waldo Willhoft was City Attorney of San Bernardino for one term, from 1951 to 1955.  In 1955, the Charter was amended to make the City Attorney a full-time position.  Here’s what else I have learned about Waldo Willhoft:

Waldo Willhoft, J.D. ’30, was elected City Attorney of San Bernardino, Calif., by a precedent-shattering write-in campaign, which commenced forty-eight hours before the election last spring and resulted in a write-in vote of 8,642 for Willhoft and 4,659 for the incument [H.R. Griffin].  Mr. Willhoft’s first act upon taking office was to appoint as his Deputy his office associate, A.J. Flory ’48. Both men are continuing in the private practice of law at 415 Andreson Bldg. San Bernardino.

The [University of] Michigan Alumnus, Volume 58, Page 30.

You can see an example of Mr. Willhoft’s stationary in Ordinance 1980, which gives his Andreson Building address.

According to the State Bar of California, his full name was Waldo Oscar Willhoft, he was admitted in June 1931, and his bar number was 12549.  He was born on August 14, 1903 in Nebraska City, Nebraska.   He died on July 11, 1982 in San Bernardino.  His father was Herman Willhoft, a cabitnet maker, and his mother was Marie Vitzikam.

He is buried in Encampment Cemetery in Carbon County Wyoming with his wife, Mildred Parkinson Willhoft, who lived from 1906-1997. According to the 1930 University of Michigan Michaganenesian Yearbook, he received an LLB in Law, he was from Nebraska City, Nebraska, and was a member of the Lawyer’s Club, Sigma Tau Delta and the Michigan Law Review.  After Michigan, he became associated with a fellow Michigan alum, Charles J. O’Conner, Class of 1900 of O’Conner & Findlay in the Arcade Building in Colton.  He wrote a book in 1929 published by Prentice Hall, called Modern Debate Practice and was the former debate coach in Peru, Nebraska.

In 1936, he lived at 1058 North 8th Street in Colton at the Porter Apartments with his wife Mildred. He was listed as the City Attorney of Colton and his office was at 159 North 8th Street in Colton.  By 1949, he had moved to San Bernardino, and lived at 741 24th Street, and worked at 320 North E Street, Room 415.  In other words, he worked in 415 Andreson Building.

Later, Waldo Willhoft served as special counsel for the Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Bernardino regarding the Meadowbrook Project and related litigation (including Andrews v. City of San Bernardino, (1959) 175 Cal.App.2d 459). RDA Minutes, June 2, 1960, and as acting Agency counsel, May 3, 1962 and again in 1964 in the absence of William J. Ward, Agency Counsel.

Prior to being elected City Attorney for San Bernardino, Waldo Willhoft was City Attorney for the City of Colton as early as 1934, as seen in the case of American Co. v. City of Lockport (1934) 220 Cal. 548.

 

A: 300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 708-6055

An Update: The Notices of Intention to Circulate Recall Petitions in the Proposed San Bernardino Recall 2013

I’m not sure why this was not posted at the time, but for historical interest, here is a post that supposed to appear in 2013.

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

San Bernardino Residents For Responsible Government, the political action committee behind the proposed recall,  contacted me today regarding the last post on the Notices of Intention to Circulate Recall Petitions in the Proposed San Bernardino Recall for November 5, 2013.

The Petitions were drafted by Michael L. Allan, a Pasadena attorney.  The decision to use process servers was also his decision.  The rest of the petitions will be released to the public on Monday, as listed on their website.  They say they have not filed the petitions against Wendy McCammack and Rikke Van Johnson yet. San Bernardino Residents For Responsible Government says they are giving the office holders 14 days to respond to the petitions.

Per the Charter of the City of San Bernardino, Section 122:

Within seven (7) days after the filing of the notice of

intention, the officer sought to be recalled may file with the City Clerk an answer in

not more than 500 words to the statement of the proponents and if an answer is

filed, shall serve a copy thereof, personally or by certified mail, on one of the

proponents named in the notice of intention. At the time the proponents publish

the notice and statement referred to above, the officer sought to be recalled may

have the answer published at his/her expense. If the answer is to be published the

officer shall file with the City Clerk at the time the answer is filed a statement

declaring his/her intent that the answer be published. The statement and answer

are intended solely for the information of the voters and no insufficiency in the form

or substance thereof shall affect the validity of the election or proceedings. The

notice and statement as referred to above, and the answer, if it is to be published

shall be published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation, as described

in Sections 6000 to 6066 of the Government Code, adjudicated as such.

Seven (7) days after the publication of the notice, statement and answer, if it

is to be published, the recall petition may be circulated and signed.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A: 300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 708-6055

Leaving Your Keys In the Ignition In Your Car In San Bernardino: It’s Against the Law Part Two

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

When I wrote the original Leaving Your Keys In the Ignition In Your Car In San Bernardino: It’s Against the Law article, I did not have the benefit of an article from the San Bernardino Sun.  Here’s the ordinance, which is still in force:

10.16.140 Removal of ignition key.
A. It is unlawful for any person having charge or control of a motor vehicle to allow
such vehicle to stand upon any street, alley or parking lot upon which there is
no attendant, when such motor vehicle is unattended, without first locking the
ignition of the vehicle and removing the ignition key from such vehicle.
B. Any person convicted under this section shall be punished by a fine of not less
nor more than two dollars; and such person shall not be granted probation by
the court, nor shall the court suspend the execution of the sentence imposed
upon such person.
(Ord. MC-460, 5-13-85; Ord.3880 §2 (part), 1980; Ord.2613,1964; Ord. 1652 Art. 4 §14, 1941.)

A story in the San Bernardino Daily Sun on April 20, 1955, Page 13, gives some background to the crime problem in San Bernardino about 15 years after it was already adopted.  The article had a photograph and was headlined “S.B. 20-30 Club Seeks To Reduce Car Thefts.”

Members of 20-30 Club No. 3 have taken on the project of helping to reduce car thefts in San Bernardino.

Hundreds of motorists Saturday will find yellow cardboard key replicas under their windshield wipers with a warning that “keys in the car” is a direct invitation to auto thieves.

“The project is one of the many efforts of the 20-30 Club to help in building a better community,” said Lloyd E. Harmon, second vice president and project chairman.

Club officers pointed to recent statistics indicating that 55 per cent of juvenile crimes in the theft of cars are aided and abetted by persons leaving their keys in cars.

A:  300 E. State Street, Suite 517

                   Redlands, CA 92373
T: (909) 708-6055

W: http://michaelreiterlaw.com

The Roots of San Bernardino Charter Section 186: A Political Perspective In Two Posts

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

As San Bernardino looks to review and possibly reform its existing charter, last adopted in 2006, this is one in a series looking back at how the City of San Bernardino arrived at this point.

In the last item, the voters of the City of San Bernardino approved (by three votes)  a charter amendment in 1939 that guaranteed minimum raises to certain members of the police department.

A more in-depth look at the political background is found elsewhere, including the political roots of Charter Section 181-A, and the fiscal effect of San Bernardino Charter Section 181-A on the 1939-40 fiscal year budget of the City of San Bernardino.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A:  300 E. State Street, Suite 517

                   Redlands, CA 92373
T: (909) 708-6055

The Roots of San Bernardino Charter Section 186: Chapter One

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

This is the first in a series of articles to help people understand the historic context in which section 186, which currently sets the rate of pay of sworn police and fire employees within the City of San Bernardino.

Before the 1955 adoption of section 186, the people of San Bernardino amended the Charter to include minimum police salaries.

A special municipal election (consolidated with a primary municipal election) was held on March 20, 1939 to vote on Proposed Charter Amendment Number One.

Proposed Charter Amendment Number One read:

It is hereby proposed that Article Ten of the City Charter of the City of San Bernardino, entitled “Police and Fire Departments,” be amended by adding thereto a new section, entitled “Section 181A,” said section to read as follows:

“Section 181A:

(a) That the minimum rate to be paid to the following classifications in the Police Department shall be as follows:

Regular Patrolmen, Relief Patrolmen, Traffic Patrolmen, Special Officers and Plain Clothes Officers–A minimum salary of $135.00 per month, said salary to be increased in the sum of $5.00 per month at the end of each six months’ continuous service until a salary of $175.00 is reached, which salary of $175.00 shall thereafter be the minimum salary to be paid said officer.

Desk Sergeants–A minimum salary of $190.00 per month.

Patrol Sergeants–A minimum salary of $190.00 per month.

Motorcycle Officers–A minimum salary of $155.00 per month, based on one year’s service as a Police Officer, said salary to be increased in the sum of $5.00 per month at the end of each six months’ continuous service, until a salary of $185.00 is reached, which salary shall thereafter be the minimum salary to be paid said officer.

Traffic Sergeants–A minimum salary of $200.00 per month.

(b) That the officer’s length of continuous service elapsing prior to the adoption of this provision shall be included in determining said minimum salaries.

(c) That said section shall not be construed to set out or limit the classifications of members of the Police Department, but is intended solely to establish a minimum rate of pay for those classifications herein referred to.”  Statutes of California, 1939, Chapter 38, Pages 3162-3163.

The results of the election were decided by absentee votes.  The Council canvassed the vote on March 27, 1939 and found: 5,264 votes in favor, 5,261 votes against.  The absentee votes ran 75 percent in favor and 25 percent against.

 

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

A:300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 708-6055
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