October 2013

Governor Brown Signs AB 440

Does your city have a contaminated, boarded-up, abandoned, graffiti- and trash-encrusted property sitting in the middle of what was a vibrant and busy area? In the good old days (pre-2012, that is), redevelopment agencies could compel cleanup of contaminated properties in redevelopment project areas using the Polanco Redevelopment Act. Akin to a nuisance action, the redevelopment agency would give notice to the responsible parties, usually the owner of the property or the operator of the former business, to clean up the property. If the responsible party failed to comply, the redevelopment agency could conduct the cleanup and recover its full costs, including attorneys' fees and cost of staff time. But what can be done now that redevelopment agencies no longer exist? 

High Court Rejects Age Bias Case; 9th Circuit Standard Holds

Good news for California public employers out of the U.S. Supreme Court today: the high court officially kicked the age bias case of Madigan v. Levin to the curb, dismissing the matter in a per curiam decision as improvidently granted. The bottom line for California public employers is that the rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit under Ahlmeyer v. Nev. Sys. of Higher Educ., 555 F.3d 1051, 1057 (9th Cir. 2009) remains in effect: the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is the exclusive remedy in federal courts for age discrimination claims against state and municipal employers, precluding equal protection claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Governor Taps Pension Reform Advocate For High Level Post

The Sacramento Bee reports here that Gov. Jerry Brown has named Stuart Drown to serve as deputy secretary at the new California Government Operations Agency. Mr. Drown is leaving his post as executive director of the Little Hoover Commission, where he has been an advocate for pension reform. The Bee story notes that the 12-member Little Hoover panel issued a report in February 2011 that San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed now cites as inspiration for the public pension reform initiative he (along with San Bernardino Mayor Patrick Morris, Pacific Grove Mayor William Kampe, and Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait) is trying to put on the November 2014 statewide ballot (details in our recent pension reform roundup).

Court of Appeal Issues Narrow Opinion on Subvention for Municipal Stormwater Permit Requirements

The California Court of Appeal recently issued the first published decision that adjudicates a municipal stormwater test claim on the merits.  In State Department of Finance et al. v. Commission on State Mandates, the Court of Appeal held that municipal stormwater requirements in a Los Angeles County National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System ("NPDES") permit to install trash receptacles at transit stops and to conduct inspections of commercial, industrial, and construction sites are not unfunded state mandates as a matter of law.  The Los Angeles County permittees, therefore, are not entitled to reimbursement for implementing these specific requirements under the California Constitution, article XIII B, section 6.   The Court of Appeal largely relied on the "highly flexible" "maximum extent practicable" standard of the Clean Water Act in ruling that these requirements are federal mandates, but limited its ruling to the specific mandates at issue.  As a result, public agencies that own and operate municipal separate storm sewer systems in California may still seek subvention for other NPDES permits with requirements that exceed the "maximum extent practicable" standard.

Please click here for more information on this case.