How South California Can Become One of the United States

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

I will not discuss the merits of the recent discussion of creating “South California” from the southern (minus Los Angeles County and Ventura County) and eastern central California counties.  Here, however, is the legal process for South California to become a state.

“New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”  United States Constitution, Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1.  Thus, the first step would be for the California Legislature to approve of South California.  Then, Congress would have to approve of South California.

The last time this happened (successfully) was when West Virginia was formed from the northwestern counties of Virginia in 1863.  However, it was during the Civil War, so it wasn’t quite the actual Virginia legislature agreeing to split off a new state:

The people of the northwestern part of the State, who were separated from the eastern part by a succession of mountain ranges and had never received the heresy of secession, refused to acquiesce in what had been thus done, and organized themselves to defend and maintain the Federal Union. The idea of a separate State government soon developed itself; and an organic convention of the State of Virginia, which in June, 1861, organized the State on loyal principles-‘the Pierpont government’-and which new organization was acknowledged by the President and Congress of the United States as the true State government of Virginia-passed August 20th, 1861, an ordinance by which they ordained that a new State be formed and erected out of the territory included within certain boundaries (set forth) including within those boundaries of the proposed new State.  State of Virginia v. State of West Virginia, (1870) 78 U.S. 39, 40.

Congress passed “An Act for the admission of the State of ‘West Virginia’ into the Union, and for other purposes” on December 31, 1862, which President Lincoln issuing a proclamation on April 1863, admitting West Virginia into the Union within 60 days.

The Act Admitting Hawaii, Public Law 86-3, amended federal statutes to change Hawaii from a territory to a state.  Presumably, adding a new state would be more complicated.  In any case, it has been almost 150 years since a state split, and more than 50 years since a new state was added.  The act to admit Hawaii required a plebiscite, presumably Congress could require a popular vote before admitting South California.   The Act Admitting Hawaii also required a presidential proclamation, just like the Act admitting West Virginia. Arguably, the Constitution requires neither a popular vote nor presidential approval, or any executive branch action.

The tricky parts would be stripping out references to the seceding counties in California law.  Presumably, the new state would adopt the laws of California until such time that a new legislature could convene or a new constitutional convention could be held.
The California State Constitution would have to be amended.The boundaries of the State are those stated in the Constitution of 1849 as modified pursuant to statute. Sacramento is the capital of California.”  California Constitution, Art. 3, Sec. 2.

A whole host of California statutes would have to be amended as well, including the Government Code’s definitions of the boundaries of the State of California.

There would also be issues regarding interstate compacts, debts of the State of California, and of course, state water project water.  There would also be issues regarding State of California property, such as the University of California, which has three campuses in the proposed South California.  Needless to say, litigation would ensue.

Though I will not comment on the political merit of the proposal, the name “South California” is terrible.  “South California” does have precedent on its side (North and South Carolina, North and South Dakota, and West Virginia).  However, popularly, this half of the state is called Southern California. Of course, it doesn’t include all of the current Southern California, and decidedly includes counties that are popularly referred to as Central California.  Adding to the confusion are the two Mexican states of  Baja California and Baja California Sur (literally, Lower California, and Lower California South.  Maybe the proposed  new state can be renamed “Alta California” in tribute to the former Mexican territory, and later department.

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: 1255 W. Colton Ave. Suite 104, Redlands, CA 92374
T: (909) 708-6055

Government Code section 6254.21 Being Used to Deny San Bernardino County Property Tax Information Over the Internet

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

If you ever have searched the San Bernardino County Tax Collector’s database for property tax information, which also has relatively current property ownership and other information (including finding Assessor Parcel Numbers (APNs)  from street addresses, and Assessor Parcel Maps, you might be confronted with this warning:

Please Note – We no longer display addresses on this page per CA. Govt. Code Sect. 6254.21 If you need assistance determining the correct parcel number please call the County of San Bernardino Assessor’s Office at (909) 387-8307.”
Back when I was a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, the site used to give street addresses, and it was a great resource.  Then, the notice displayed above was posted.   If you need an address for an APN, you can call the Assessor’s Office, and eventually, someone who will give you their first name, but not their last, will tell you an address.  Similarly, if you need to know the mailing address (where tax bills are sent), they will give that to you over the phone, too.
The Government Code section posted above is in the California Public Records Act.  Does the section say that counties cannot display addresses on tax bills on the internet?
Government Code section 6254.21 reads, in its entirety:

(a) No state or local agency shall post the home address or telephone number of any elected or appointed official on the Internet without first obtaining the written permission of that individual.

(b) No person shall knowingly post the home address or telephone number of any elected or appointed official, or of the official’s residing spouse or child, on the Internet knowing that person is an elected or appointed official and intending to cause imminent great bodily harm that is likely to occur or threatening to cause imminent great bodily harm to that individual. A violation of this subdivision is a misdemeanor. A violation of this subdivision that leads to the bodily injury of the official, or his or her residing spouse or child, is a misdemeanor or a felony.

(c) (1) (A) No person, business, or association shall publicly post or publicly display on the Internet the home address or telephone number of any elected or appointed official if that official has made a written demand of that person, business, or association to not disclose his or her home address or telephone number.

(B) A written demand made under this paragraph by a state constitutional officer, a mayor, or a Member of the Legislature, a city council, or a board of supervisors shall include a statement describing a threat or fear for the safety of that official or of any person residing at the official’s home address.

(C) A written demand made under this paragraph by an elected official shall be effective for four years, regardless of whether or not the official’s term has expired prior to the end of the four-year period.

(D) (i) A person, business, or association that receives the written demand of an elected or appointed official pursuant to this paragraph shall remove the official’s home address or telephone number from public display on the Internet, including information provided to cellular telephone applications, within 48 hours of delivery of the written demand, and shall continue to ensure that this information is not reposted on the same Internet Web site, subsidiary site, or any other Internet Web site maintained by the recipient of the written demand.

(ii) After receiving the elected or appointed official’s written demand, the person, business, or association shall not transfer the appointed or elected official’s home address or telephone number to any other person, business, or association through any other medium.

(iii) Clause (ii) shall not be deemed to prohibit a telephone corporation, as defined in Section 234 of the Public Utilities Code, or its affiliate, from transferring the elected or appointed official’ s home address or telephone number to any person, business, or association, if the transfer is authorized by federal or state law, regulation, order, or tariff, or necessary in the event of an emergency, or to collect a debt owed by the elected or appointed official to the telephone corporation or its affiliate.

(E) For purposes of this paragraph, “publicly post” or “publicly display” means to intentionally communicate or otherwise make available to the general public. (2) An official whose home address or telephone number is made public as a result of a violation of paragraph (1) may bring an action seeking injunctive or declarative relief in any court of competent jurisdiction. If a court finds that a violation has occurred, it may grant injunctive or declarative relief and shall award the official court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. A fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) may be imposed for a violation of the court’s order for an injunction or declarative relief obtained pursuant to this paragraph. (3) An elected or appointed official may designate in writing the official’s employer, a related governmental entity, or any voluntary professional association of similar officials to act, on behalf of that official, as that official’s agent with regard to making a written demand pursuant to this section. A written demand made by an agent pursuant to this paragraph shall include a statement describing a threat or fear for the safety of that official or of any person residing at the official’s home address.

(d) (1) No person, business, or association shall solicit, sell, or trade on the Internet the home address or telephone number of an elected or appointed official with the intent to cause imminent great bodily harm to the official or to any person residing at the official’s home address. (2) Notwithstanding any other law, an official whose home address or telephone number is solicited, sold, or traded in violation of paragraph (1) may bring an action in any court of competent jurisdiction. If a jury or court finds that a violation has occurred, it shall award damages to that official in an amount up to a maximum of three times the actual damages but in no case less than four thousand dollars ($4,000).

(e) An interactive computer service or access software provider, as defined in Section 230(f) of Title 47 of the United States Code, shall not be liable under this section unless the service or provider intends to abet or cause imminent great bodily harm that is likely to occur or threatens to cause imminent great bodily harm to an elected or appointed official.

(f) For purposes of this section, “elected or appointed official” includes, but is not limited to, all of the following: (1) State constitutional officers. (2) Members of the Legislature. (3) Judges and court commissioners. (4) District attorneys. (5) Public defenders. (6) Members of a city council. (7) Members of a board of supervisors. (8) Appointees of the Governor. (9) Appointees of the Legislature. (10) Mayors. (11) City attorneys. (12) Police chiefs and sheriffs. (13) A public safety official, as defined in Section 6254.24. (14) State administrative law judges. (15) Federal judges and federal defenders. (16) Members of the United States Congress and appointees of the President.

(g) Nothing in this section is intended to preclude punishment instead under Sections 69, 76, or 422 of the Penal Code, or any other provision of law.

 

Thus, we apprehend the 1998 enactment [section 6254.21]  as having been intended to prevent public agencies from posting on their public websites any list or directory of public officials’ home addresses and telephone numbers, without first obtaining each official’s written permission to be included in the listing. This apparent intent informs our conclusion.
So opined the California Attorney General in Opinion No. 06-802, May 20, 2008, 91 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen. 19.  However, the Attorney General, perhaps because of the more limited question the Office was asked to answer, opined:
We therefore conclude that, in the circumstances presented here-that is, where a county maintains a comprehensive database of property-related information that may incidentally contain the home addresses and telephone numbers of persons who are elected or appointed public officials, but who are not identifiable as such from the data-Government Code section 6254.21(a) does not require the county to obtain permission from those officials before transmitting the database over a limited-access network, such as an “intranet,” “extranet,” or “virtual private network.

A city attorney who shall not be named, who liked to say that an opinion of the California Attorney General is just “one attorney’s opinion.”   However, I think this is the correct interpretation of the statute.

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

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

San Bernardino County Food Trucks

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

I first heard of Gourmet Food Trucks in San Francisco a few years ago.  I had some college friends who often headed to the Fruitvale neighborhood in Oakland to visit a taco truck (until they got robbed at 2 AM), but these are obviously not the same kind of food trucks.  I won’t mention the rhyming pejorative that often accompanied catering trucks that I heard in the San Bernardino of my youth.

The Los Angeles County-based trucks are now well-known, with multiple blogs, television coverage, and Yelp entries dedicated to the trucks.  I went to the Santa Anita Food Truck Festival II and there were 80 trucks.  Even though there were two Nom Nom Trucks at the event, one ran out of food. The Grilled Cheese Truck had an hours-long wait, and I was lucky to have only a twenty-minute wait at the Lobsta Truck for a lobster roll at 11:30 a.m.  Most interestingly, someone was handing out fliers for an event for aspiring food truck owners.  They even claimed to deal with legal issues.  Unfortunately, I was not given the flier.

Street cuisine seems to be the cuisine du jour.  According to San Bernardino County Second District Supervisor Janice Rutherford, mobile food trucks (other than at fixed events) are currently not allowed in the County of San Bernardino.  The Rutherford Report (Newsletter), March 2011, Page 1.

Update 6/29/2011

Someone wrote to me about this post.  To clarify, I believe catering trucks are currently permitted in San Bernardino County because catering trucks have pre-made food.  Gourmet Food Trucks involve preparation of food in the truck, and are only allowed at special events like the Food Truck Festival held recently in Ontario.  I know the County is still reviewing, at Supervisor Rutherford’s request, the prohibition on Gourmet Food Trucks.  To clarify further, when I quote an ordinance, I am not stating my own opinion.  I do not hold political opinions on this blog.  Even if I did something in previous employment, that was not my opinion, it was what my client wanted.  Attorneys, particularly public attorneys, do not have the liberty of having opinions.

 

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