Client Successes May 26, 2015

BB&K Files Successful Amicus Brief in Eminent Domain Case

Partner Kendall H. MacVey argued that the Mello-Roos Act can be used to finance acquisitions by eminent domain

Best Best & Krieger LLP attorney Kendall H. MacVey filed a successful brief as amicus curiae counsel to a California appellate court, which found that the Mello-Roos Act can be used to finance acquisitions by eminent domain. (Golden State Water Company v. Casitas Municipal Water District, B255408)

The brief was filed on behalf of the Association of California Water Agencies, the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties and the California Special Districts Association, which collectively represent more than 2,000 public entities. The entities supported Casitas’ position that it had the right to acquire Golden State Water Company to provide water service in the City of Ojai.

In a Mello-Roos election held in Ojai, 87 percent of the voters approved using Mello-Roos property taxes to finance Casitas’ acquisition by eminent domain of Golden State’s Ojai water system. Golden State, declaring its system was “not for sale,” brought a legal challenge to set aside the voter approved Mello-Roos measure.
The Second District Court of Appeal affirmed that the Mello-Roos Act should be “liberally construed” to allow for the financing of the acquisition of facilities.

Casitas is seeking control of the for-profit regulated utility, which has a monopoly in providing water service in Ojai, out of concern for high water bills. Casitas believes the Ojai community would benefit from having its water utility run by a locally controlled entity rather than an out-of-area-corporation seeking to maximize profits for its owners. The Second District Court of Appeal affirmed that the Mello-Roos Act should be “liberally construed” to allow for the financing of the acquisition of facilities. The California Supreme Court declined Golden State’s petition to review.

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