Saturday, May 29, 2010

Park Assessment Fails To Comply With Prop. 218

In Beutz v. County of Riverside (here), the Court of Appeal held that a park assessment failed to comply with the requirements of Article XIII D, Section 4, part of Proposition 218. The court first held that the county had failed to separate the general benefit from the special benefit provided by the improvements in question (park landscaping) and also failed to spread the special benefit proportionately among the assessees (all of whom paid an equal assessment). In short, the opinion gives teeth to the requirements of Prop. 218, insofar as they relate to assessments.

SLAPPing "Mixed" Causes Of Action

What happens when only a small part of a cause of action is subject to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute? That's the question underlying the debate in Haight-Ashbury Free Clinics, Inc. v. Happening House Ventures (here). The plaintiff alleged a claim for breach of fiduciary duty, based on sixteen acts, two of which were found protected under the anti-SLAPP statute. The majority opinion dismissed the whole cause of action, because the plaintiff had failed to show that it could succeed on any part of its claim, whether based on protected or unprotected activity. The concurring and dissenting opinion would have dismissed only the portion of the claim based on protected activity, which seems right to me.

Arbitration Clause Not Enforceable On Homeowners' Association

In Villa Vicenza Homeowners Ass'n v. Nobel Court Development, LLC (here), the Court of Appeal held that an arbitration clause recorded in CC&Rs was not enforceable in a suit brought by a homeowners' association against a developer. Because the clause was subject to the Federal Arbitration Act, the court was not bound by the holdings in Grafton Partners v. Superior Court (in which we represented the petitioner), which holds that predispute jury waivers are unenforceable except as specifically authorized by the Legislature, or Treo @ Kettner Homeowners Assn. v. Superior Court, which held that a homeowners association was not bound by a judicial reference agreement contained in CC&Rs. Nevertheless, the court held that both federal law and state law refuse to enforce arbitration clauses against non-signatories, and the homeowners association had never agreed to arbitrate a dispute against the developer.