Geologic Hazard Abatement District

In a story today from the San Mateo County Times (Owners of apartments on crumbling Pacifica cliffs may have found a fix) we learn that one / some of the owners are considering requesting the creation of a special “Geologic Hazard Abatement District”. This special District would have the ability to get loans to pay the cost of a plan for the prevention, mitigation, or abatement of a geologic hazard. The loans are to be repaid by a special tax assessment on the property owners.

The City of Pacifica would create this special District, but would not have any financial responsibility for it.

Notes from Pacifica City Council’s Esplanade Study Session on February 10, 2010:

At the Esplanade Study Session on February 10th, the idea of a Geologic Hazard Assessment District was mentioned. At the time (according to my notes) it was described as a special property tax that would be used to make repairs or to remediate public property such as a street, sidewalk, gas, utilities, etc. but not parks. One of the key challenges to overcome in creating a District was isolating property proportion, i.e. charging property owners according to the benefit they require. It was said that it would require a minimum of 8 owners, though I do not know how that was determined. (See the section below listing property owners.) Bottom line: Property owners cover cost; Council votes to create the District.

I was not familiar with Geologic Hazard Abatement Districts, so I did some research. I’m not a lawyer, just a curious bystander. Anyway, here are some of my notes:

Creating the District

What is a Geologic Hazard Abatement District? It is comprised of the property owners who will BOTH benefit from the District, and pay for the District.

[26571] A district is comprised of an area specially benefited by
and subject to special assessment to pay the cost of an improvement.

Petition or Resolution. 10% or more of the property owners based on property valuation (not based on the number of owners).

[26550.5] Proceedings for the formation of a district may be
initiated by either of the following methods:
(a) A petition signed by owners of not less than 10 percent of the
real property to be included within the proposed district.
(b) By resolution of the legislative body.
A plan of control shall be attached to the petition.

Plan of Control

[26509] "Plan of control" means a report  prepared by an engineering
 geologist  certificated pursuant to Section 7822 of the Business and
 Professions Code or a firm of engineering geologists  which describes
 in detail a geologic  hazard, its location and the area affected
 thereby, and a plan for the prevention, mitigation,  abatement, or
 control thereof.

Enacting (or thwarting) the District

[26566] If it appears at the  hearing that owners of more than 50
 percent  of the assessed valuation of the proposed district object to
 the formation thereof, the legislative body shall  thereupon close the
 hearing and  direct that proceedings for the formation of a district
 be abandoned.

What the District Can Do

Levy and collect taxes

[26650] A district may levy and collect  assessments pursuant to this
 chapter  to pay for the cost and expenses of the maintenance and
 operation of any improvements acquired or constructed  pursuant to
 this division.

Use the money from the taxes / assessments to borrow money.

[26593] A district may borrow money from  or otherwise incur an
 indebtedness to  a local agency, the state, any instrumentality or
 political subdivision thereof, the federal  government, or any private
 source,  and may comply with any conditions imposed upon the
 incurring of that indebtedness.

Acquire, build and fix stuff

[26580] The district may:
  (a) Acquire, construct, operate, manage, or  maintain improvements
 on public or  private lands. Such improvements shall be with the
 consent of the owner, unless effected by the exercise  of eminent
 domain pursuant to  Section 26576.
  (b) Accept such  improvements undertaken by anyone.

Acquire property by eminent domain

[26576] Within the territorial limits of the  district, or for the
 purposes set  forth in this division, a district may acquire real
 property or any interest therein by eminent domain.

In addition, the District can hire staff, maintain an office, and be dissolved in various ways.

Property Owners

Following is my list of properties, but remember that by my reading the power of votes cast appear to be proportional to the assessed value of the property.

Sources

These pages from the State Department of Conversation were quite helpful:

The quotes and links above were from the current code:

Current Code

From http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/calawquery?codesection=prc&codebody=&hits=20

DIVISION 17. GEOLOGIC HAZARD ABATEMENT  DISTRICTS
CHAPTER 1.
 DEFINITIONS  ........................................ 26500-26512
CHAPTER 2. DISTRICT FORMATION
 Article 1. Purpose  ................................. 26525
 Article 2. Lands Included  .......................... 26530-26534
 Article 3. Initiation of Proceedings  ............... 26550-26560
 Article 4. Notice and Hearing  ...................... 26561-26567
CHAPTER 2.3.
 DISTRICT DISSOLUTION  ............................... 26567.1-26567.3
CHAPTER 2.5. EMERGENCY FORMATION
 Article 1. Initiation of Proceedings ................ 26568-26568.3
 Article 2. Notice and Hearing  ...................... 26569-26569.4
 Article 3. Nature of the District  .................. 26569.5-26569.7
CHAPTER 3. NATURE AND POWERS OF THE DISTRICT
 Article 1. Nature  of the District .................. 26570-26573
 Article 2. Powers of a District  .................... 26574-26581
 Article 3. Meetings  ................................ 26582
 Article 4. Officers  ................................ 26583-26586
CHAPTER 4. FINANCES
 Article 1.  Improvement Act of 1911; Municipal Improvement
 Act of 1913; Improvement Bond Act of 1915 ........... 26587-26590
 Article 2. Financial Assistance  .................... 26591-26595
CHAPTER 5. IMPROVEMENTS .............................. 26600-26601
CHAPTER 6. MAINTENANCE ............................... 26650-26654



For a complete chronology and links to many more photos see Evacuation underway at 330 Esplanade:

http://adequatebird.com/2009/12/17/evacuation-underway-at-330-esplanade/

See all of my pictures of the Esplanade crisis:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisd2006/collections/72157622920945823/

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