Hastings Law Journal


In 1996, the voters of California passed Proposition 218, the most recent in a series of initiatives, beginning with Proposition 13 in 1978, aimed at curtailing taxation by local governments. Like its predecessors, Proposition 218 contains ambiguous language and will likely be the subject of future litigation. This Note argues for an interpretation of Proposition 218 consistent with the intent behind the initiative to provide relief to California taxpayers.

In this Note, the author provides an overview of the history of taxpayer initiatives in California and the context out of which they arose. He then analyzes the disparate ways in which the courts have interpreted the ambiguous language of Proposition 13, with the awareness that similar analyses will almost certainly by applied to Proposition 218. The author argues that the language of Proposition 218, particularly the term "property-related fee," should be interpreted according to the liberal rule of construction established in Rider v. County of San Diego, rejecting the strict construction approach of Los Angeles County Transportation Commission v. Richmond. The author concludes that the Rider framework would better serve Proposition 218's central purpose of limiting the power of local governments to levy taxes without voter approval.

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