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Preserving Measures Approved by Los Angeles County Voters

In Green v. Logan, Nossaman represented the County of Los Angeles in a challenge brought against two general fund tax measures ratified by voters in the June 2012 election, the County's Transient Occupancy Tax and Landfill Tax.  After the County prevailed in an initial challenge to the taxes, the contestant filed a second lawsuit, asking the Court to invalidate the two measures approved by voters, and potentially expose the County to liability for repayment of the taxes collected over a number of years.   

In the June 2012 election, LA County voters were presented with two ballot measures:  Measure H, which sought voter approval to maintain in effect a Transient Occupancy Tax rate of 12% (increased from 10% in 1991); and Measure L, which sought voter approval to retain a 10% landfill tax (a rate that had been in effect since 1991).  On the day of the election, both Measures were approved by more than 60% of Los Angeles County voters, allowing the County to maintain the tax rates going forward, as well as retroactively from the time they were initially passed. 

On August 1, 2012, the contestant filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate both measures, claiming that the materials on the ballot describing the measures were misleading or inaccurate, that the measures were illegal because they ratified taxes collected previously without voter approval, and that they were special taxes requiring a 2/3 voter approval.  Nossaman successfully defended the County against the challenges, preserving the election results and ratification of the measures.  This important victory is particularly significant in that it not only permitted the County to collect the taxes going forward,  it also relieved the County from serious exposure for repayment of the taxes previously collected.

In an opinion dated, June 2, 2014, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court concluding that the election challenge was invalid.  As a result, the voters' approval of both measures will stand.

In a second action involving a direct challenge to the Transient Occupancy Tax, Pershadsingh v. County of Los Angeles, Nossaman obtained a judgment for the County in the superior court successfully arguing that the plaintiff, seeking to represent a class of taxpayers, was not the proper party to pursue the challenge because he had not in fact paid the tax.   On June 25, the Court of Appeal also affirmed the judgment in this case.

The ultimate result of both cases is that Nossaman has saved millions of dollars in revenue for the County that fund various county programs, including parks, libraries, senior services and law enforcement.

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