CURTIS v. BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY

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Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 4, California.

Gordon M. CURTIS, Jr., et al., Petitioners, v. BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY et al., Respondents, Richard Somers et al., Intervenors.

Civ. 38340.

Decided: August 24, 1971

Richards, Watson & Dreyfuss and James K. Herbert, Los Angeles, for petitioners. John D. Maharg, County Counsel, David D. Mix and Edward H. Gaylord, Asst. County Counsel, Joe B. Hudgens and Douglas V. Hart, Deputy County Counsel, for respondents. O'Melveny & Myers, Bennett W. Priest, Richard S. Volpert and Lowell C. Martindale, Jr., Los Angeles, for intervenors.

Petitioners are the proponents of a move to secure the incorporation of the proposed City of Rancho Palos Verdes in the southwestern portion of Los Angeles County. They have complied with the first three steps prescribed by statute toward that end, i. e., they obtained the approval of the Local Agency Formation Commission (Govt.Code § 34303.5), they duly filed with respondent board their notice of intention to circulate a petition for incorporation, properly signed by the requisite number of qualified signers (Govt.Code § 34302.5), and they thereafter filed with respondent board the petition, duly signed by the requisite number of qualified signers (Govt.Code § 34303). However, at the hearing on that petition, held pursuant to section 34310 of the Government Code, it developed that protests had been filed, signed by more than 51% of the total assessed value of the land within the boundaries of the proposed city. Acting pursuant to the provisions of section 34311 of the Government Code,1 the board terminated the proceedings.

Petitioners filed in the Supreme Court their petition seeking a writ of mandate to compel the board to resume the incorporation proceedings. The Supreme Court transferred the petition to this court for determination.2 We directed the filing of an answer to the petition and set the matter for hearing. An answer has been filed, the matter has been briefed,3 argued and submitted. For the reasons set forth below, we deny the petition.

Petitioners argue: (a) that the hearing under section 34310 is tantamount to an ‘election.’ and (b) that to make the determination provided for by section 34311 turn on the approval or disapproval of landowners, measured by land values, is contrary to the so-called ‘one-man, one-vote’ concept.

We need not decide whether or not the hearing under sections 34310 and 34311 is an ‘election’ since we conclude that, in any event, the procedure therein provided for is not open to the attack here made on it. It is now settled that the ‘one-man, one-vote’ doctrine is not universally applicable and that some other formula may be used, so long as it does not ‘den[y] access to the ballot because of some extraneous condition.'4 Here, as respondents and intervenors point out, there are considerations relative to incorporation which reasonably involve the interests of real property owners, acting as such, as distinguished from the interests of resident voters, acting in that capacity. Each now incorporation adds another level of government to those already existing. That necessarily creates at least the risk that a new, and additional level of property taxation will be superimposed on the taxes already existent.5 And the very fact of incorporation means that the laws regulating the use of real property will be enacted by a government selected in a different manner, and by a different electorate, than before. We cannot say that those (and other similar considerations) did not justify the Legislature in requiring that a majority of the landowners not affirmatively disapprove the incorporation proposal. The factors supporting a property value measure are at least as strong here as those held to be sufficient in Schindler v. Palo Verde Irr. Dist. (1969) 1 Cal.App.3d 831, 82 Cal.Rptr. 61.

The petition for a peremptory writ of mandate is denied.

FOOTNOTES

1.  Government Code section 34311 reads:‘The board shall hold a hearing at the time fixed, and may adjourn the hearing from time to time, for periods not to exceed two months in all. If at the time set for the first hearing, there are insufficient written protests filed with the board to terminate further proceedings, the meeting shall be recessed not less than 14 days, and supplemental protests may be filed within 10 days after the first hearing.‘If upon the final hearing the board of supervisors finds and determines that written protests to the proposed incorporation have been filed with the board, signed by qualified signers representing 51 percent of the total assessed valuation of the land within the boundaries of the proposed incorporation, the jurisdiction of the board of supervisors shall cease; no election shall be called and no further petition for the incorporation of any of the same territory shall be initiated for one year after the date of such determination. * * *’

2.  We regard the showing of urgency made by petitioners as adequate to justify application to an appellate court without applying first to the superior court for relief.

3.  After the issuance of the alternative writ, we granted permission to Mr. Somers and other parties, landowners within the area proposed to be incorporated, and objectors to the incorporation, to intervene on the side of the respondent board.

4.  Gordon v. Lance (1971) 403 U.S. 1, 91 S.Ct. 1889, 1891, 29 L.Ed.2d 273, 276.

5.  It is immaterial whether or not the proposed city would be able to operate without imposing additional taxes. That, of necessity, is a matter of opinion and of prognostication. The landowners are entitled to make, and to act on, their own estimates; they need not be bound by the optimism of the proponents.

KINGSLEY, Associate Justice.

FILES, P. J., and JEFFERSON, J., oncur.

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