California Proposition 218 (1996)

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Proposition 218 was a proposition in the state of California on the November 5, 1996 ballot. Prop 218 significantly changed local government finance. Called the “Right to Vote on Taxes Act”, Proposition 218 was sponsored by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Prop 218 amended the California Constitution (Articles XIIIC and XIIID) which, as it relates to assessments, requires the local government to have a vote of the affected property owners for any proposed new or increased assessment before it could be levied.

Prop 218 was estimated to cost local governments $100 million a year and Moody's Investors Service warned it would cause “significantly declining credit quality”.[1] Still it was considered a “sleeper” proposition as local governments were prohibited from campaigning against it, and as greater attention had been paid to the Proposition 209 ban on affirmative action and the Proposition 215 medical marijuana liberalization.[2] The Proposition was passed[3] by California voters on November 5, 1996, and the assessments portion placed in effect on July 1, 1997.

In the past, the local government agencies were not required to obtain ballot approval from the property owners before levying street lighting assessments; only council approval was required, even if there were significant protests.

Government agencies affected by Proposition 218 are counties, cities, and special districts. The California Supreme Court has extended Proposition 218 to apply to water agencies.[4][5] In April 2015 a California Court of Appeals in Santa Ana read Proposition 218 as prohibiting municipalities from charging higher water rates on heavier water users.[6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wilson, Yumi (5 October 1996). "PAGE ONE Tax Revolt Revisits State Ballot". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 21 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Lucas, Greg (6 November 1996). "Surprise win for anti-tax 218". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 21 April 2015. 
  3. ^ Votes: 5,202,429 (56.55%) in favor; 3,996,702 (43.45%) against. See Statement of the Vote, page xiii.
  4. ^ [ Paying for Water in California ,65 Hastings L.J. 1603 (2014)}
  5. ^ Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency v. Verjil, 138 P.3d 220, 225 (Cal. 2006); Richmond v. Shasta Comm. Svcs. Dist., 83 P.3d 518, 528 (Cal. 2004)
  6. ^ Egelko, Bob (20 April 2015). "Appeals court rejects higher water rates for big users". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 21 April 2015. 
  7. ^ Capistrano Taxpayers Association, Inc. v. City of San Juan Capistrano No. G048969

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