• Governor Signs Bill Affecting Assessment Ballot Procedures
  • October 23, 2009
  • Law Firm: Best Best & Krieger LLP - Riverside Office
  • Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law SB 321, a bill intended to provide greater transparency to the majority protest ballot process for special assessments. The bill modifies the assessment ballot procedure requirements contained in Government Code section 53753 of the Proposition 218 Omnibus Implementation Act.

    SB 321 imposes new requirements regarding the envelopes in which hearing notices and assessment ballots are mailed, the procedure for tabulating assessment ballots, and the preservation of assessment ballots as disclosable public records. Beginning January 1, 2010, public agencies conducting special assessment ballot protest procedures must comply with several new requirements, including the following:

    • "OFFICIAL BALLOT ENCLOSED" must appear on the envelope containing the notice of public hearing and ballot mailed to the record owner of the property proposed to be assessed. An agency may also place "OFFICIAL BALLOT ENCLOSED" on the envelope in a language or languages other than English.
    • At the conclusion of the public hearing, an impartial person designated by the agency who does not have a vested interest in the outcome of the proposed assessment must tabulate the ballots. An "impartial person" includes the clerk of the agency. Under certain circumstances, the ballots must be unsealed and tabulated in public view at the conclusion of the public hearing.
    • During and after the tabulation, the ballots and the information used to determine the weight of each ballot must be treated as disclosable public records, and must be preserved as public records for a minimum of two years.