April 25, 2018

Maintenance Assessment Districts – MADs

INTRODUCTION

The City was established in the 1850s. The City has become a prosperous waterfront community and increasingly vibrant with one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants in historically authentic buildings. The City and property owners have formed several assessment districts within the community to provide for the continued maintenance and servicing of various improvements located within public right-of-way and dedicated easements.

PROPOSITION 218

Pursuant to the Act and Proposition 218, all parcels that receive a special benefit conferred upon them as a result of the maintenance and operation of improvements and services shall be identified, and the proportionate special benefit derived by each identified parcel shall be determined in relationship to the entire costs of the maintenance and operation of improvements. The Act permits the establishment of assessment districts by agencies for the purpose of providing certain public improvements which include the operation, maintenance, and servicing of landscaping improvements.

Section 22573 of the Act requires that maintenance assessments must be levied according to benefit rather than according to assessed value. This Section states:

“The net amount to be assessed upon lands within an assessment district may be apportioned by any formula or method which fairly distributes the net amount among all assessable lots or parcels in proportion to the estimated benefit to be received by each such lot or parcel from the improvements.”

“The determination of whether or not a lot or parcel will benefit from the improvements shall be made pursuant to the Improvement Act of 1911 (Division 7 (commencing with Section 5000)).”

Section 22547 of the Act also permits the designation of zones of benefit within any individual assessment district if “by reasons or variations in the nature, location, and extent of the improvements, the various areas will receive different degrees of benefit from the improvement”.

Article XIIID, Section 4(a) of the California Constitution limits the amount of any assessment to the proportional special benefit conferred on the property. Article XIIID also provides that publicly owned properties must be assessed unless there is clear and convincing evidence that those properties receive no special benefit from the assessment. Exempted from the assessment would be the areas of public streets, public avenues, public lanes, public roads, public drives, public courts, public alleys, public easements and rights-of-ways, public greenbelts, and public parkways.

The net amount to be assessed may be apportioned by any formula or method which fairly distributes the net amount among all assessable lots or parcels. Proposition 218, approved by the voters in November 1996, requires the District to separate general benefit from special benefit, where as only special benefit is assessed.

BENEFIT PROVIDED BY MAINTENANCE DISTRICTS

The method for apportioning the assessment is based upon the relative special benefit derived by the properties in each Maintenance District over and above the general benefit conferred on real property located in each Maintenance District or to the public at large. Assessed parcels within each Maintenance District receive special benefit from the maintenance and operation of the improvements. Particular and distinct benefit provided to parcels within each Maintenance District includes:

  • Improving the livability, appearance, and desirability for properties within the boundaries of each Maintenance District.
  • Ensuring that improvements do not reach a state of deterioration or disrepair so as to be materially detrimental to properties within each Maintenance District.
  • The proper maintenance of the landscaping, ornamental structures, and appurtenant facilities also reduces property related crimes (especially vandalism) against properties within each Maintenance District.
  • Providing beautification, shade, and overall enhancement to properties within each Maintenance District.

The above mentioned items contribute to a specific enhancement of the properties within each Maintenance District. Since these improvements, including parks, were installed and are maintained specifically for the properties within each Maintenance District; only properties within each Maintenance District receive a special benefit and are assessed for said maintenance.

In addition to the special benefits received by the parcels within the Maintenance Districts, there are incidental general benefits conferred by the improvements. The proper maintenance of landscaping and appurtenant facilities within the Maintenance Districts, which includes the spraying and treating of landscaping, reduces the likelihood of insect infestation and other diseases spreading to landscaping located in other areas of the City. Additionally, the proper maintenance of landscaping and other ornamental structures provides a positive visual experience to persons passing by the Maintenance Districts, whether driving or walking. Each of the aforementioned constitutes incidental general benefits conferred by the improvements.

The total benefits thus are a combination of the special benefits to the parcels within each Maintenance District and the general benefits to the public at large and to the adjacent properties. The portion of the total maintenance costs which are associated with general benefits will not be assessed to parcels within the Maintenance Districts but will be paid from other City funds.