Creating a Tracked-Changes Version of An Ordinance, Resolution, or Charter Is Helpful to The City Council or Legislative Body

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

In my series about the Charter of the City of San Bernardino, I have created tracked change versions of the Charter through the years.  I started by recreating a modern version of the 1905 Charter.   I created that by finding the Statutes of 1905, page 940.  This book is now in the public domain, having left copyright a long time ago.  Google has scanned the book.  If you look at the first page, the physical book scanned by Google was from the ” Library Leland Stanford Junior University.”  Though it is a cut-and-paste job to get from the OCR version provided by Google,  you have to go line-by-line and take out the funky annotations.

Then, as the Charter of the City of San Bernardino was updated, first (successfully) in 1908, I took the 1905 Charter, reviewed the changes added by charter amendment, and made a strike out version with additions and deletions.  Each charter amendment is in the Statutes of California for the respective year of passage, because the Legislature of the State of California had to approve the changes until the law changed, and now municipal charters must be sent to the Secretary of State, so they still appear in the Statutes of California.  You can find these at better law libraries; in particular, I can recommend the Victor Miceli Law Library, where I found the versions that I use in the series.  They also have an excellent legislative history collection.

Back to the subject at hand, here is an example of a strikeout or legislative version:

Section 133. Whenever the mayor and common council shall by ordinance or resolution, determine that the public interest or necessity demands the acquisition, construction, or completion of any municipal improvement, the cost of which would be too great to be paid out of the ordinary annual income and revenue of the city, they are hereby given the power and authority to call a special election and submit to the qualified voters of the city the proposition of incurring indebtedness to pay the cost of such improvement set forth in said ordinance or resolution. If said proposition be accepted by a two-thirds vote of the qualified electors voting at such election, the mayor and common council may issue and dispose of bonds of said city in evidence of said indebtedness.; provided that such indebtedness, together with the unpaid and outstanding bonded indebtedness actually existing at the time such proposition is submitted to said voters, shall not exceed three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.  But the city or municipal corporation of San Bernardino shall not incur any indebtedness for public improvements which shall in the aggregate exceed fifteen (15) per cent of the assessed value of all the real and personal property of said city or municipal corporation.  In all other respects not herein provided for, the procedure for calling and holding such elections and the issuance of bonds shall be governed by general law of the State of California applicable to cities of the fifth class.

A strikeout version allows the city council member (or in the case of a charter amendment, the voter to see what is being changed).   A strikeout version is particularly useful to a member of a legislative body if an entire chapter or title is being changed because it allows them to see a large amount of changes.  I recommend to any municipal attorney to consider creating a strike out version for their clients even if one is not specifically requested.

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.

Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

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

What County is Redlands, California In?

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

There seems to be some confusion as to which of California’s 58 counties, Redlands, California is located in.  The short answer: San Bernardino County.  The long answer is more interesting. I think the confusion comes from people from Los Angeles, as you can see in the media, they sometimes publish “Redlands, Riverside County.”  Here is an example from Fox LA (Channel 11): Earthquake Rattles Redlands Area of Riverside County.

I have lived near or in Redlands, California almost my entire life.  I have family members and friends born in Redlands.  Since 2006, I have been practicing law in Redlands.  And currently, my law firm is located at 300 E. State St. #517 Redlands, California 92373

Has Redlands always been in San Bernardino County?  Yes, and no, and almost no.   You can see from this map in the Bancroft Library at my alma mater, the University of California,  Berkeley,  from the 1840s, Redlands was part of Rancho San Bernardino.  Upon statehood, the area comprising Redlands and San Bernardino and Riverside and Moreno Valley was a part of a super-sized Los Angeles County.  That super-sized Los Angeles County also included Orange County.  On  April 23, 1853, the County of San Bernardino was formed from Los Angeles, San Diego and Mariposa County.  The City of Redlands, for which I was Assistant City Attorney for almost four and one half years, was incorporated in 1888.  The County of Riverside split from San Bernardino County and San Diego County in 1893.  Today, the San Bernardino / Riverside County line is the southern border of the City of Redlands.

Because this is a legal blog, I have bolded the portion  of the Government Code which describes the boundaries of San Bernardino County (California Government Code section 23136):

23136. The boundaries of San Bernardino County are as follows: Beginning at the northwest corner of Sec. 1, T. 25 S., R. 40 E., M. D. B. & M.; thence east along the township line between T. 24 and 25 S. of the Mount Diablo base line, being the sixth standard south, Mount Diablo Base, and continuing east by said standard line and extension thereof, to the western boundary of T. 19 N., R. 12 E., San Bernardino Base and Meridian; thence north along said western boundary to the northern line of said township; thence east along the northern line of said township to the eastern boundary of the State of California, being the oblique boundary line between the states of California and Nevada, as surveyed and monumented by the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1899 and approved by Act of the California Legislature on March 1, 1901, and by the state of Nevada on February 27, 1903; thence southeasterly along said interstate boundary to its intersection with the centerline of the channel of the Colorado River as constructed by the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation, said point being common to the boundaries of Arizona, California, and Nevada, where the 35th degree of north latitude intersects the centerline of said channel, the above mentioned centerline being a portion of the interstate boundary between the States of Arizona and California as described in “Interstate Compact Defining the Boundary Between the States of Arizona and California”, a certified copy of which is recorded and filed in the office of the County Recorder of San Bernardino County; thence downstream along said centerline to the southerly end of construction; thence, continuing downstream, along said interstate boundary to its intersection with the east and west center line of T. 1 S., R. 24 E., S. B. B. & M., or the prolongation thereof; thence westerly along the northern boundary of Riverside County to the corner common to Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties; thence northwesterly along the boundary line established by joint survey in December, 1876, and January, 1877, as the line between Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties to the corner common to San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange Counties; thence northerly along the eastern boundary of Los Angeles County to the corner common to Los Angeles, Kern and San Bernardino Counties; situated at the northeast corner of T. 8 N., R. 8 W., S. B. B. & M.; thence east on the township line between T. 8 and 9 N. of San Bernardino base line to the section line between Secs. 32 and 33, T. 9 N., R. 7 W., S. B. B. & M.; thence north following section lines to the eighth standard parallel south of Mount Diablo base line; thence east along said eighth standard parallel to the southwest corner of T. 32 S., R. 41 E., M. D. B. & M.; thence north along the township line to the seventh standard parallel south of Mount Diablo base line; thence along said standard parallel to the southwest corner of Sec. 36, T. 28 S., R. 40 E., M. D. B. & M.; thence north along section lines to the southwest corner of Section 24, T. 26 S., R. 40 E; thence east along the south line of said Section 24 to an intersection with the east line of said Section 24; thence north along said east line, and continuing north along the east line of Section 13, same township and range, to an intersection with the north line of said Section 13; thence west along said north line and continuing west along the south line of Section 11, same township and range, to an intersection with the west line of said Section 11; thence north along said west line and continuing north along the west line of Section 2, same township and range, to an intersection with the north line of said Section 2; thence east along said north line to an intersection with the east line of said Section 2; thence north along section lines to the northwest corner of Sec. 1, T. 25 S., R. 40 E., M. D. B. & M., said point being the place of beginning. That portion of the San Bernardino County boundary line which coincides with the Arizona-California Interstate Boundary is shown on a series of Planimetric Maps appearing in Exhibit “A” of above mentioned Interstate Compact. Geographic Positions and Plane Coordinates of all boundary points mentioned in above description are listed in Exhibit “A” of said Interstate Compact That means you have to look at the legal description of Riverside County to find if it defines the county line between Riverside and San Bernardino. I’ve bolded the relevant portion. 23133. The boundaries of Riverside County are as follows: Beginning at the corner common to Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties, being located at the point of intersection of the easterly boundary of the El Canon de Santa Ana Rancho with course number seven of the boundary line, established by joint survey in December 1876, and January 1877, as the line between Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties; thence southeasterly along said line of survey to the most northerly point of that survey on file in Book 87 of Records of Survey, at Pages 60 through 61, in the office of the County Recorder of Riverside County; thence south 68 49´57″ west a distance of 35.37 feet; thence south 48 16´56″ west a distance of 150.70 feet; thence south 65 40´06″ west a distance of 75.15 feet; thence north 84 32´29″ west a distance of 155.61 feet to the beginning of a nontangent curve, concave to the northwest, with a radial bearing north 29 06´47″ west and a radius of 1,550.00 feet; thence along said curve through an angle of 15 01´17″ a distance of 406.35 feet to the easterly line of the Rancho Lomas de Santiago; thence south 02 53´27″ east, along said easterly line, a distance of 3,273.18 feet to the south line of Sec. 36 T. 3 S., 8 W., S. B. B. & M.; thence south 89 07´27″ east, along said south line, a distance of 818.46 feet; thence south 89 05´38″ east, continuing along said south line, a distance of 2,484.00 feet to the southerly most point on said survey on file in Book 87 of Records of Survey, at Pages 60 through 61, in the office of the County Recorder of Riverside County, said point also being on said line of survey between Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties; thence continuing southeasterly on said line of survey to the point of beginning of said joint survey, it being upon the northern boundary of San Diego County, as it was then established; thence southwesterly to a point on the eastern line of Rancho Mission Viejo or La Paz two miles north of the south boundary of T. 7 S., S. B. B. & M.; thence south along said boundary to the point of intersection of said line and the northwest corner of Lot 1 of Sec. 33, T. 7 S., R. 6 W., S. B. B. & M.; thence south 89 16´14″ east along the north line of said Lot 1 and the north section line of said Sec. 33 a distance of 2,086.39 feet to the northeast section corner thereof; thence south 00 27´14″ west, along the east section line of said Sec. 33, a distance of 2,647.46 feet to the east quarter corner of said Sec. 33; then south 01 00´50″ west, continuing along said east section line, a distance of 1,320.33 feet to the southeast corner of the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter of said section; thence north 89 25´11″ west, along the south line of the northeast quarter of the southeast quarter and the south line of Lot 3 of said Sec. 33, a distance of 2,042.68 feet to the eastern boundary line of Rancho Mission Viejo or La Paz; thence 00 00´35″ east, along said boundary, a distance of 1,324.46 feet to the point of intersection with said line with the township line between T. 7 S. and T. 8 S., S. B. B. & M.; thence easterly along said township line to its intersection with the western boundary of Santa Rosa Rancho; thence southerly along the boundary of said rancho to where said boundary of said rancho intersects the range line between T. 8 S., T. 3 W., and T. 8 S., T. 4 W.; thence south on said range line to the point of intersection of the said line with the second standard parallel south; thence east along said parallel to its intersection with the interstate boundary between the States of Arizona and California on the centerline of the Colorado River, said interstate boundary and centerline being described in “Interstate Compact Defining the Boundary Between the States of Arizona and California”, a certified copy of which is recorded and filed in the office of the County Recorder of Riverside County; thence northerly along said interstate boundary to its point of intersection with the east and west centerline of T. 1 S., R. 24 E., S. B. B. & M., or the prolongation thereof; thence westerly along the section lines to the southeast corner of Sec. 17, T. 1 S., R. 16 E., S. B. B. & M.; thence south to the southeast corner of Sec. 32, same township and range, said point being on the township line between T. 1 and 2 S., S. B. B. & M.; thence west on said township line to the northeast corner of T. 2 S., R. 1 W., S. B. B. & M.; thence south to the southeast corner of Sec. 12, T. 2 S., R. 1 W., S. B. B. & M.; thence west to the southwest corner of Sec. 8, T. 2 S., R. 3 W., S. B. B. & M.; thence north to the northwest corner of said Sec. 8; thence west to the quarter corner of the south line of Sec. 2, T. 2 S., R. 5 W., S. B. B. & M.; thence north to the quarter corner on the north line of said Sec. 2; thence west to the southwest corner of Sec. 31, T. 1 S., R. 6 W.; thence south along the section lines to the northern boundary of the Jurupa Rancho; thence southwesterly along said north boundary to the northwest corner of said Rancho; thence south along the west boundary of said Jurupa Rancho to the quarter corner on the east line of Sec. 9, T. 3 S., R. 7 W., thence west in a direct line to the center of Sec. 7, same township and range; thence south in a direct line, to the quarter corner on the south line of Sec. 19, T. 3 S., R. 7 W., thence west to the east boundary of the El Canon de Santa Ana Rancho; thence southerly along the easterly boundary of said Rancho to the place of beginning. That portion of the Riverside County boundary line which coincides with the Arizona-California Interstate Boundary is shown on a series of Planimetric Maps appearing in Exhibit “A” of the above-mentioned Interstate Compact.

If you plotted that on the survey of California along the San Bernardino Base & Meridian, you would find that the City of Redlands is in San Bernardino County, California.

Copyright 2011 Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

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) 296-6708

What is a San Bernardino County Code Enforcement Attorney and a Riverside County Code Enforcement Attorney?

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

I have been involved in Code Enforcement for a long time now.  My first exposure was when I was working for the City of Santa Clara during law school at Santa Clara University School of Law.  Most of the code enforcement at that time was done by a Deputy City Attorney and involved drinking in public by Santa Clara University students.  Drinking in public is a common infraction or misdemeanor prohibited by cities’ municipal codes.  One of the reasons behind this is because it is not preempted by the State of California’s prohibition of being drunk in public.  Police officers can cite people with open containers of alcohol seen drinking alcohol or presumed to be drinking alcohol without proving that they were intoxicated.  However, generally, the term “Code Enforcement” means property maintenance.

My next brush with code enforcement came as an attorney for Legal Aid Society of San Bernardino.  A common defense for an unlawful detainer defendant is a lack of habitability.  Often, the tenant would complain to a code enforcement agency about the interior conditions of their house or apartment.  However, sometimes this could have disastrous results.  Either the tenant would complain about the conditions and it would have no effect on the unlawful detainer action, the tenant would get cited into court by the code enforcement agency for the problem, or in the absolute worst-case scenario, the conditions were so bad at the apartment or house that the code enforcement agency red tagged the unit, making the tenant homeless.

When I became a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino in February 2001, my role changed from observer of code enforcement to assisting Code Enforcement.  I became a City Prosecutor, prosecuting violations of the San Bernardino Municipal Code in San Bernardino Superior Court, along with other Deputy City Attorneys.   I also co-advised the City of San Bernardino’s Code Enforcement Department (which previously was a Division, and would later become a Division again).  When I was Assistant City Attorney for the City of Redlands, I served a similar function, including prosecuting violations of the Redlands Municipal Code, advising staff at administrative hearings, and drafting code enforcement ordinances.

What does being a Code Enforcement Attorney mean in San Bernardino County and Riverside County?  In incorporated cities and towns in San Bernardino County and Riverside County, that means prosecuting violation of city or town ordinances, usually codified in the Municipal Code, or prosecuting violations of County ordinances codified in the San Bernardino County Code or the Riverside County Code.  It also means drafting new ordinances.  Some of these ordinances are new code enforcement tools, new prohibitions, or modifying existing ordinances to allow certain behavior or prohibit certain behavior.  Being a Code Enforcement Attorney also means representing staff in front of administrative hearing officers, both in post deprivation due process hearings, administrative citation hearings or administrative civil penalty hearings.  Code Enforcement Attorneys also review administrative warrant applications, review criminal citations for filing with the court, review proposed hearing orders, and other similar tasks.  Some of those tasks include training code enforcement officers about the law, including constitutional protections regarding inspections of private property.  Code Enforcement Attorneys help agencies respond to California Public Records Act requests.  Code Enforcement Attorneys also help defend cities and code enforcement officers from collateral attacks on the process, including quiet title actions to nullify code enforcement liens, requests for injunctions to stop code enforcement actions, and allegations of Federal Civil Rights violations pursuant to 42 United States Code section 1983.  Code Enforcement Attorneys also can file civil abatement actions, including nuisance actions, and receivership actions under the California Health and Safety Code.  In Redlands and San Bernardino, I was involved in all of those functions.

However, in addition to public Code Enforcement Attorneys, a Code Enforcement Attorney can protect the rights of the public.  As a private attorney, I have helped clients that are faced with demands from overly-aggressive code enforcement agencies.  When picking an attorney to help you on a code enforcement matter, it helps to find one that has experience on the other side, prosecuting violations of municipal codes.  Find someone with experience with the Public Records Act, because that’s an important tool in defending against a code enforcement action.  Find someone who is familiar with the political systems in play in the relevant entity, and who can give you realistic advice about your options.

Copyright 2011 Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

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.

 

Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP
A: 1447 Ford St. #201
      Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 296-6708

California Public Records Act, How and Where to Make a Request in San Bernardino County and Riverside County

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

The California Public Records Act is an invaluable tool for individuals, traditional and new media,  public interest groups, non-profits, business entities, and even lawyers and political groups to find out what local government is doing.  This first post has to do with a very brief overview of the Act, and how to make a Public Records Act request.  Private Attorneys especially do not use the Act efficiently, much to the delight of City Attorneys and much to the detriment of their clients.

I have handled Public Records Act Requests on behalf of local agencies, and I have made Public Records Act Requests to local agencies, so I have a good perspective about how the Act is handled on both sides of the counter.  Having an attorney knowledgeable about the California Public Records Act is important if a client is involved in a case against a City, County, or other local government agency.

The Public Records Act is found in the California Government Code.  A Requester can find the California Government Code here.  The version found here is unannotated.  If a Requester wants to see an annotated code, it can be found at most public libraries and law libraries.  The annotated version gives case law and secondary source references.  The Act is codified at Government Code, Title 1 “General”, Division 7 “Miscellaneous,” Chapter 3.5 “Inspection of Public Records”, Article 1, “General Provisions” and Article 2 “Other Exemptions From Disclosure.”   If a Requester is searching manually, the Act is found in Government Code section 6250 et seq.  [“Et seq.” is legal jargon from the Latin “et sequentia” meaning “and following.”  It is shorthand to tell a court, or others, the general location of an some amount of primary or secondary law.]

The California Legislature, in enacting the Act, found and declared  “that access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in” California.  Government Code section 6250.

While, there are generally two rights, to inspect and/or copy public records, this post will focus on how to make the request.

How and When to make a request to a local government agency in San Bernardino County and Riverside County:

The Act requires that records not subject to an exemption are to be made available “upon a request”  Government Code section 6253(b).  The Court of Appeal for the Second District of California found that the “California Public Records Act plainly does not require a written request.”  Los Angeles Times v. Alameda Corridor Transp. Authority (2001) 88 Cal.App. 4th 1381, 1392.

What does this mean, practically?  A Requester can ask the local government agency in person, or over the phone, to inspect or copy records.  However, the practical thing to do is to put it in writing so that there is a record of the request.  Local governments are collections of individuals, and if the individual employed by the government does not understand the request, or does not write the request down correctly, a Requester may not get to inspect the records in a timely fashion.  A Requester’s best practice is to put the Public Record Act request in writing and date it.  A Requester does not have to use a form provided by the local government agency, but sometimes it is easier to use their form.

Where and to whom should the Request be made?  Though the Act does not specify, local government agencies in Riverside and San Bernardino County usually have Departments that are responsible for responding to routine requests, such as for copies of ordinances or minutes.   In an incorporated city or town, the Requester can usually request the documents from the City Clerk, and it should be routed within the City to the right department if it is not the City Clerk .  In cities with in-house City Attorney’s Offices, such as the City of San Bernardino and the City of Riverside, a Requester can request the documents from the City Attorney.  Likewise, it will be routed to the correct department.

However, the best practice is to request from the specific department that has the records.  If the Requester is ling with a specific department, such as Planning or Code Enforcement, the Requester can make the request directly to the department who is likely to handle the request.  If the Requester is asking for records from different departments, the Requester might want to make the request to the City Manager or City Administrator.  A Requester should feel free to ask someone in the particular city, town or county.  Most local government entities understand their responsibilities under the Act, and want to help the public.  Some do not.

A later discussion with examine how to make a reasonably described record request.

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) 296-6708