By Joe Ney
I feel we must start a much-needed and urgent conversation regarding Maintenance Assessment Districts (MADs) and their true meaning and impact.
MADs are nothing more than a way around the protections of Proposition 13’s safeguards, allowing cities to raise property taxes without a two-thirds vote of the people as required by state law.
After Proposition 13 was passed in 1978 by a super majority of California voters and upheld as constitutionally correct by the Ninth Circuit Court, then Gov. Jerry Brown and the legislators rushed into an emergency session and modified the 1972 Highways and Lighting Act and created what are known today as 1972 Act Lighting and Landscape Districts. Paragraph seven in the act states that assessment fees will be attached to a homeowners property tax assessments and it further states the right of the government to accelerated foreclosures of properties if delinquent taxes and fees are not paid.
It would be verbose to reprint those sections that were modified in 1978 by Gov. Brown and legislators, but a brief quote from paragraph seven states “if property taxes are not paid timely, foreclosure proceedings may begin and the delinquent property owners will be responsible for payment of all collection cost legal fees and penalties related to the partial.”
Under current California law, the (California Revenue and Taxation Code Section 3691 and 3692.4), property owners in California would have five years from the date of delinquency before foreclosure proceedings would take place for delinquent property taxes and fees, the 1978 modification clearly allows for an accelerated foreclosure if there are any delinquency amounts within 90 to 180 days.
If the homeowners in this community vote yes to establish a MAD in Del Cerro, they are in fact giving up some of their protections afforded to them under Proposition 13.
There is also San Diego’s ordinance on the formation of MADs, article 5 Division II of the San Diego municipal code, 0-2016-88. That ordinance sets forth all of the requisites for the formation of a MAD and the amendments to that ordinance sets forth the City Council’s decision to provide for “penalties and interest [that] will be calculated and attached to any delinquent assessments in conjunction with delinquent property taxes.” The city’s ordinance is 32 pages long, the amendment is much shorter, but there is a good deal of information in both documents.
When those promoting the formation of a MAD in the community of Del Cerro say, “The city has no money to pay for improvements,” that is the same statement we heard in 2003 from an earlier group who attempted to form a MAD.
My question is: What has the city done with the hundreds of millions of dollars that we the homeowners have paid in property taxes over the years?
Anyone can locate a copy of the 1972 Act Lighting and Landscape Districts and a copy of the California Revenue & Taxation Code sections 3691 and 3692.4. The San Diego city ordinance on the formation of MADs would have to be obtained by calling the city of San Diego and asking them to email a copy with its amendments.
In closing, I would encourage everyone being asked to vote yes for the formation of a MAD to verify what they’re being told — conjectures and opinions have never been enforceable in any court of law.
— Joe Ney is a resident of Del Cerro.