Palisades Dog Park on Hold
By SUE PASCOE
A new Palisades dog park, which would be built in Temescal Canyon, is on hold, because a major source of the proposed funding, Measure A, is being litigated.
Measure A was a parcel tax measure that was on the ballot for Los Angeles County in November 2016. The purpose was to replace expiring funding that had been used for city/county playgrounds and parks. It passed with a 74.9 percentage with 2.36 million votes for and 791,939 votes against.
On the ballot, the analysis explained that a special tax would be levied at 1.5 cents per square foot of structural improvements to property, excluding the square footage of improvement used for parking. The rate could be increased and there was no expiration date for the tax.
In January 2017, Jimmie Dondlinger hired Capstone Law, APC and attorneys Marty Dakessian and Ruben Sislyan of Dakessian Law, LTD. to represent him.
Dondlinger was concerned that this specific Measure was doing an “end run” around Proposition 13 and that there was no uniformity applied to this tax.
California voters approved Prop. 13 in June 1978, to ensure that California property owners would not receive unchecked and unjust tax increases according to assessors subjective “highest and best use” of the property.
The proposition established a maximum property tax rate of 1 percent of the assessed value of the property; limits on increases for inflation on were put at 2 percent annually, and it required a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to raise taxes.
Attorneys Robert Friedl, Marty Dakessian, and Liana Carter spoke to the Palisades News about the lawsuit.
“Measure A is not being applied uniformly,” Dakessian said. “Taxes must be applied uniformly.”
“With a uniform parcel tax, everyone pays the same,” Friedl said. “Measure A slices the tax this way and that. A parking lot does not pay anything.”
“The tax [as written] violates the law,” Dakessian said.
The attorneys pointed out that Measure A is levied based on improvements.
“Generally, it’s based on the size of the improvement of the property,” Dakessian said. “This approach is very close to value-based taxes, which are limited under Proposition 13.
A lawsuit was filed in January of 2017 against the County/Regional Park and Open Space District (RPOSD). In July 2017, the Court ruled in favor of RPOSD/County and Measure A.
“The initial court case’s judgement was in favor of the RPOSD and Los Angeles County,” said Terry Kanakri, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, who noted the litigant appealed the judgement in September 2017. (Time frame for a resolution could be up to two years.)
In a July email to this reporter, Kanakri said “The Board of Supervisors has approved moving forward with the release of the Annual Allocations with the clear understanding that if the litigation goes against RPOSD/County, the funds will need to be repaid.”
These funds include:1. Community-based park investment ($33.2 million);
2. Neighborhood parks, healthy communities, and urban greening ($12.3 million); 3. Implementation, operations and oversight ($6.9 million); and 4. Maintenance and servicing funds ($14.2 million).
According to Kanakri, the appeal will be strongly argued against and has a good chance of ending in favor of RPOSD/County. However, all agencies must understand that there is a risk to expending these funds.
“There are some agencies that have communicated that they will wait until the litigation is complete before utilizing these funds for park projects. Some who will move forward have confidence that RPOSD/County will prevail in court,” Kanakri said. “Please note this is not an understanding that the final judgement from the Court of Appeals will be in favor of RPOSD/County.”
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