Tell McGuire & Levine To Protect OUR Right to Vote on New Taxes.

If SB-231 Passes, You are Powerless to Prevent New Property Taxes for Stormwater.

Contact Assembly Member Marc Levine and Senator Mike McGuire ASAP. An Assembly vote just scheduled for Monday 6/26 threatens to remove your right to vote on new taxes — in this case, the imposition of new local storm water taxes that would normally be required to garner approval from 2/3 of voters.

Per Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, this legislation could cost homeowners hundreds of dollars each year – some estimates are that the new charges could be over a thousand dollars!

Urge Levine and McGuire to vote NO on SB-231.

If SB-231 passes, the only way to prevent the imposition of excessive storm water taxes/fees would be via formal written protests from a majority of all property owners (an insurmountable hurdle). If you objected to the recent big rate hikes imposed by Marin Municipal Water District — which property owners were helpless to prevent — you should be very concerned about SB-231.

SB-231 is the latest in a series of 2017 CA state legislature bills that undermine voters’ rights to approve new taxes and fees and to recall elected officials.

NO ON SB-231.


Email the Office of Assembly Member Marc Levine TODAY, before the Assembly vote scheduled for Monday June 26.
Marin — 415-479-4920
Sacramento – 916-319-2010
Tell Levine to vote NO on SB-231. He needs to protect our right to vote on new taxes and fees.

Also Call or email the Office of Senator Mike McGuire
Marin (recommended) – 415-479-6612
Sacramento – 916-651-4002
Tell McGuire to vote NO on SB-231. He to protect our right to vote on new taxes and fees.


The Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers joined many other taxpayer advocacy groups, municipalities, and government associations in formally endorsing the letter below drafted by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Read the letter below to learn what’s at stake.

OPPOSITION TO SENATE BILL 231 (Drafted by HJTA, and Endorsed by CO$T)

The listed organizations are writing in OPPOSITION to SB 231 (Hertzberg) which would erode the protections afforded to taxpayers under the Right to Vote on Taxes Act (Proposition 218) as they relate to fees, taxes and assessments imposed for stormwater runoff programs. This bill is slated to be taken up on the Assembly Floor on Monday June 26th.

Changing the longstanding definitions of sewer and stormwater will create uncertainty among municipalities, guarantee litigation and lead to thousands of dollars of new assessments on property owners who will be deprived of their ability under Proposition 218 to have meaningful input as to the nature, extent and amount of those levies.

Taxpayers, businesses interests, and local governments have joined together to op- pose SB 231. Unquestionably, this will lead to higher property taxes for home and small business owners and will also be passed along to renters.
Defining the Problem: Taking away the People’s Right to Vote
Proposition 218 was a state Constitutional Amendment approved by voters in 1996. The initiative imposes various voter and/or property owner approval procedures prior to being subject to local exactions. Property related fees, as defined, for water, sewer and refuse collection services are not subject to the more stringent approval requirements for the simple reasons that, historically, local governments imposed these fees well before 1978 and the passage of Prop 13. (Prop 218 was meant to reverse the circumvention of Prop 13 by the imposition of various fees, charges, taxes and assessments that hadn’t previously existed). Importantly, fees for “storm water runoff” were rare or non-existent prior to Prop 13.

SB-231 purports to overturn a published appellate court decision
which involved the interpretation of constitutional language

In 2002 the City of Salinas decided to approve a stormwater assessment without a vote of the people. They argued that sewer and stormwater for purposes of treatment were essentially both sewer and decided a vote was not needed under Proposition 218. In the case HJTA v. Salinas the 4th District Appellate Court ruled that stormwater was in fact distinct from sewer service and thus a ballot election was required. The court used both the constitutional language in Prop 218 as well as existing statutory language as the basis for its decision, put in place by Proposition 218 supporters fol- lowing its approval.

The very same Omnibus Act language that SB 231 seeks to amend makes a clear distinction between sewer and drainage systems. Under current law, a drainage system “means any system of public improvements that is intended to provide for erosion control, landslide abatement, or for other types of water drainage.” It was this language that the Court used to make its decision. Needless to say, unsettling a published appellate court decision via state statute is not only unwise, but in this case it violates the California Constitution.
SB 231 is a solution in search of a problem.
No one denies that storm water runoff programs are a legitimate public service. But it is important to remember that Proposition 218 already permits for municipalities to raise new revenue they need to fund stormwater programs. They simply have to put the issue to the people paying the bill. This can be accomplished either through a majority vote benefit assessment process or even a two-thirds vote special tax.

What’s the result of SB 231? A legal quandry and nightmare for local public agencies.

Should SB 231 be approved and signed by Governor Brown, the results will be need- less litigation and potentially thousands of dollars of new costs placed upon taxpayers.
Storm water runoff programs and services should be financed with the existing revenues of government. If that revenue is insufficient, there are ways of seeking new revenue under Prop 218. All that is required is voter approval by those financially obligated to finance the service.

Tagged on: