PRESS RELEASE PRESS RELEASE PRESS RELEASE
FOURTH DISTRICT: CASE OF WEISBLAT v. CITY OF SAN DIEGO IS REVERSED AND REMANDED.
August 18, 2009, SAN DIEGO - In a stunning blow to the City of San Diego, and especially the City Attorney's Office, the Fourth District Court of Appeals today unanimously ruled that the City of San Diego may not charge a fee to collect a tax.
In January of 2005 the City of San Diego started charging a $25 "fee" to collect the business tax from every business and rental property owner in the city. Shortly thereafter Sidney Weisblat and his neighbor, Kenneth Ledgerwood -- two landlords who objected to this fee -- sued to stop this practice.
"Landlords have already been burdened with the Rental Tax.It was ridiculous to also have to pay a FEE just to have the City cash my tax check!" said Weisblat.
After Weisblat sued, the City reviewed its costs and lowered the fee to $15, a rate that it has continued to charge every year since. Still, Weisblat and Ledgerwood weren't giving up. There was a principal at stake, regardless of the amount. "Yes, by suing, we got them [the City] to lower the amount, but that wasn't the point. We didn't want it reduced, we wanted it eliminated altogether," Weisblat explained.
According to Edward Teyssier, the attorney for the plaintiffs, the city was violating Prop. 218, which was passed by the voters in 1996 and requires any new or increased taxes be put to a vote. "The City was raising the Rental Tax and calling it a fee to avoid having to put the tax increase to a vote."
According to Richard Rider, Chair of the San Diego Tax Fighters, the effects of this ruling are expected to have a huge impact throughout the state. "This is more than just about a $15 annual charge. This so-called 'processing fee' raised over $4 million for the City. Assuming this ruling stands, that must now stop," explained Rider.
"This ruling means no municipality can charge a levy for doing what it is supposed to be doing anyway. This means that municipalities throughout the state who have been charging similar fees must cease and desist," opined Teyssier
Case Opinion is available on-line at:
For further information: Edward Teyssier, Esq. TEL: 619-474-7500