Board of Supervisors v. McMahon, No. C

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtDAVIS; EVANS
Citation268 Cal.Rptr. 219,219 Cal.App.3d 286
PartiesBOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF BUTTE COUNTY, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Linda McMAHON, et al., Defendants and Appellants; Stephanie Rowe, et al., Intervenors and Respondents. iv. C003383.
Docket NumberNo. C
Decision Date29 March 1990

Page 219

268 Cal.Rptr. 219
219 Cal.App.3d 286
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF BUTTE COUNTY, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Linda McMAHON, et al., Defendants and Appellants;
Stephanie Rowe, et al., Intervenors and Respondents.
No. Civ. C003383.
Court of Appeal, Third District, California.
March 29, 1990.
As Modified on Denial of Rehearing
April 30, 1990.
Review Denied June 27, 1990.

Page 220

[219 Cal.App.3d 290] John K. Van de Kamp, Atty. Gen., Charlton G. Hollard, Asst. Atty. Gen., Elisabeth C. Brandt, Supervising Deputy Atty. Gen., Dennis Eckhart, Deputy Atty. Gen., for defendants and appellants.

Livingston & Mattesich, Gene Livingston, Melissa M. Meith, Sacramento, Law Office of Ephraim Margolin, Ephraim Margolin, San Francisco, Nicholas C. Arguimbau, Fairfax, and Susan Roff, for plaintiff and respondent.

Max E. Robinson, County Counsel, Pamela A. Stone, Sr. Deputy, Fresno, De Witt W. Clinton, County Counsel, Lawrence B. Launer, Asst. County Counsel, Martha E. Romero, Deputy County Counsel, Los Angeles, Lloyd M. Harmon, Jr., County Counsel, Terence G. Dutton, Deputy County Counsel, San Diego, as amici curiae on behalf of plaintiff and respondent.

Nancy N. McDonough and Carl G. Borden as amicus curiae, for plaintiff and respondent.

Legal Services of Northern California, Alan Lieberman, Lucy Quacinella, Chico, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Mark Greenberg, Richard A. Rothschild, for intervenors and respondents.

[219 Cal.App.3d 291] DAVIS, Associate Justice.

Linda McMahon, as Director of the Department of Social Services, Gray Davis, as Controller of the State of California, and the State of California (collectively, the State), appeal from a preliminary injunction granted the Board of Supervisors of Butte County (the County). The parties' dispute involves the State's power to require the County to contribute local funds to a state-mandated program. The trial court determined that two constitutional provisions gave the County a reasonable probability of prevailing on its claim for state funding. The court also found that the balance of hardships favored the County. Accordingly, the court's preliminary injunction ordered the State to fund the entire non-federal share of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) grants in aid program in Butte County.

We shall conclude that the trial court erred by finding that the County would

Page 221

probably prevail on its claim. Neither the two constitutional theories considered below, nor the "home rule" and "impossibility" theories tendered here, support a preliminary injunction. Accordingly, we shall reverse.
BACKGROUND

California has elected to participate in the AFDC program, a federal program funded here 50 percent by the federal government and 50 percent by the state. 1 (Welf. & Inst.Code, § 11200, et seq.; 42 U.S.C. § 601 et seq.; County of Alameda v. Carleson (1971) 5 Cal.3d 730, 738-739, 97 Cal.Rptr. 385, 488 P.2d 953.) Counties pay 5.4 percent of the total cost of AFDC grants in aid made to their eligible residents. 2

[219 Cal.App.3d 292] The Department of Social Services (the Department) administers the program in this state. (Welf. & Inst.Code, § 10600.) The Department establishes statewide standards for AFDC benefits administration, and its rules and regulations bind the counties, which act as the state's agents. (Welf. & Inst.Code, §§ 10604, 10800 & 11209; Ross v. Superior Court (1977) 19 Cal.3d 899, 907, 141 Cal.Rptr. 133, 569 P.2d 727.)

On the November 1986 ballot, Butte County voters passed County Measure E, adding subsections (b) and (c) to Article III of the Butte County Charter. As adopted, Measure E provided that "(b) Except as hereinafter provided in subsection (c), the Board of Supervisors and all other County officials are prohibited from the use of any local funds in programs administered by the Butte County Department of Welfare. [p] (c) The Board of Supervisors may provide local funds for the administration of services not to exceed the maximum amount of welfare funds utilized in fiscal year 1978-1979, as adopted in the County of Butte 1978-1979 budget." In fiscal year 1978-1979, the state picked up virtually 100 percent of the non-federal share of Butte County's AFDC grants in aid program through post-Proposition 13 bailout legislation. (Stats.1978, ch. 292, § 33; Stats.1978, ch. 332, § 29.)

Measure E became effective on January 6, 1987, when the Secretary of State accepted and filed it. (See Gov.Code § 23723.) The Butte County Board of Supervisors then adopted a resolution implementing Measure E as to AFDC grants in aid only.

On January 12, 1987, the Department both petitioned for a writ of mandate and sued for injunctive relief against the County. The Department contended that Measure E violated state law, and it sought to compel the County to continue to fund the Butte County AFDC program in the amounts state law required. On that same date, the County sued the State for declaratory and injunctive relief. The County asserted Measure E's validity and sought to compel the State to fund entirely the non-federal portion of Butte County's AFDC grants. Stephanie Rowe, a Butte County AFDC recipient, and Harold Harrison, a

Page 222

Butte County General Assistance recipient, intervened in each action. The intervenors generally supported the State's position.

The court consolidated the actions for hearing. Butte County's Chief Administrative Officer, Martin Nichols, testified about various County budgeting matters. Nichols's testimony touched on County revenue, state-mandated and local programs, and state AFDC funding. In essence, he testified that state-mandated programs were draining the County budget of funds to carry on local services effectively.

[219 Cal.App.3d 293] We summarize Nichols's testimony. According to him, property taxes form the single largest portion (42 percent) of the County's general purpose revenues. Prior to Proposition 13, the County had the lowest property tax rate in California. Since Proposition 13 locked the County into that low assessment base, the County now has the "lowest share of general purpose revenues and property taxes of any county in California." The County's per capita revenue is $139, half the $268 statewide average.

According to Nichols, between fiscal years 1979-1980 and 1985-1986, the proportion of general purpose revenues obligated to welfare costs rose from 7 percent to 15 percent. In that same period, the proportion of general purpose revenues obligated to all state-mandated programs increased from 45 percent to 65 percent. AFDC grant levels alone increased 73 percent, while the County's general purpose revenues increased only 31 percent, and the cost of living index increased only 50 percent. Between 1979 and 1986, the County's reserves fell from $2.75 million to $330,000.

According to Nichols, these increased welfare costs have forced the County to cut local services such as police and fire protection, road maintenance and libraries. For example, in 1987, Butte County had one sworn sheriff's officer per 1500 residents, one-third the statewide average of one per 500. As a result, Nichols claimed, the County stands "[d]ead last. We have the worst level of protection in any county of California." Given the present trend in state-mandated welfare costs, Nichols projected that the County will run out of local money for local programs and services halfway through the 1992-1993 fiscal year. As of that time, he claimed, there will be "no police protection, no fire protection, no libraries, in Butte County."

The trial court voided Measure E as in conflict with state law on a matter of statewide concern. The court ultimately entered a judgment in the Department's action directing a writ of mandate to issue. That judgment commanded the County to comply with state law on the funding of all welfare programs irrespective of Measure E's provisions.

Although the parties' pleadings principally disputed Measure E's validity, the court saw its ruling not as the matter's end but "only the beginning." In its tentative decision, the court said: "To stop at this point leaves undecided the basic question whether the state can order counties to carry out state-mandated programs without paying for them; leaves untouched any reasonable relief as to the fiscal squeeze the counties find themselves in arising from ever-increasing imposition on the counties of state-mandated financial obligations at the same time as limitations are placed on the counties as to sources of money to pay the increased costs of government; and leaves the unfortunate souls who sorely need financial assistance twisting [219 Cal.App.3d 294] slowly, slowly in the wind. [p] This Court does not feel government need be that helpless; this Court does not feel government need be that callous. [p] [T]he state asks for an order requiring the County to pay, the County asks for an order requiring the State to pay, and the welfare recipients ask for an order that somebody pay. [p] We shall endeavor to find a lawful solution to the problem."

The court then considered the County's complaint outside of Measure E's context. It requested the parties to brief the constitutionality of the state's requirement that counties carry out state-mandated programs without complete state funding for such programs. On its own initiative, the

Page 223

court suggested that due process might bar such a requirement.

Following briefing and argument, the court issued a preliminary injunction ordering the State to fund entirely the Butte County AFDC program. The court first concluded the County would likely prevail on the merits on either of two legal theories: "a. The imposition of state mandated costs on Butte County, when the County's ability to increase its tax revenues is restricted by virtue of Proposition 13, violates the County's or the Board's right to due process of the law. [p] b. [The] state is required by Article XVI, Section 11 [of the...

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52 practice notes
  • Oiye v. Fox
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 11, 2012
    ...mandatory injunction is rarely granted, and is subject to stricter review on appeal.” ’ (Board of Supervisors v. McMahon (1990) 219 Cal.App.3d 286, 295, 268 Cal.Rptr. 219, fn. omitted.)” “An injunction is a writ or order requiring a person to refrain from a particular act.” (Code Civ. Proc.......
  • People v. Uber Techs., Inc., A160701, A160706
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 22, 2020
    ...restricted to " ‘extreme’ " cases in which " ‘the right thereto is clearly established ....’ " ( Board of Supervisors v. McMahon (1990) 219 Cal.App.3d 286, 295, 268 Cal.Rptr. 219, quoting 270 Cal.Rptr.3d 305 Hagen v. Beth (1897) 118 Cal. 330, 331, 50 P. 425 ; accord, Integrated Dynamic Solu......
  • Mendly v. County of Los Angeles, No. B073226
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • March 25, 1994
    ...or officer concerned with the administration of relief or laws appertaining thereto....' " (Board of Supervisors v. McMahon (1990) 219 Cal.App.3d 286, 297-298, 268 Cal.Rptr. 219.) "As the state's agents, counties must comply with statutes; relief from Page 830 state mandates must come from ......
  • People ex rel. Herrera v. Stender
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 16, 2013
    ...mandatory injunction is rarely granted, and is subject to stricter review on appeal.” ’ (Board of Supervisors v. McMahon (1990) 219 Cal.App.3d 286, 295, 268 Cal.Rptr. 219, fn. omitted.) The granting of a mandatory injunction pending trial ‘ “is not permitted except in extreme cases where th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
52 cases
  • Oiye v. Fox
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 11, 2012
    ...mandatory injunction is rarely granted, and is subject to stricter review on appeal.” ’ (Board of Supervisors v. McMahon (1990) 219 Cal.App.3d 286, 295, 268 Cal.Rptr. 219, fn. omitted.)” “An injunction is a writ or order requiring a person to refrain from a particular act.” (Code Civ. Proc.......
  • People v. Uber Techs., Inc., A160701, A160706
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 22, 2020
    ...restricted to " ‘extreme’ " cases in which " ‘the right thereto is clearly established ....’ " ( Board of Supervisors v. McMahon (1990) 219 Cal.App.3d 286, 295, 268 Cal.Rptr. 219, quoting 270 Cal.Rptr.3d 305 Hagen v. Beth (1897) 118 Cal. 330, 331, 50 P. 425 ; accord, Integrated Dynamic Solu......
  • Mendly v. County of Los Angeles, No. B073226
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • March 25, 1994
    ...or officer concerned with the administration of relief or laws appertaining thereto....' " (Board of Supervisors v. McMahon (1990) 219 Cal.App.3d 286, 297-298, 268 Cal.Rptr. 219.) "As the state's agents, counties must comply with statutes; relief from Page 830 state mandates must come from ......
  • People ex rel. Herrera v. Stender
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 16, 2013
    ...mandatory injunction is rarely granted, and is subject to stricter review on appeal.” ’ (Board of Supervisors v. McMahon (1990) 219 Cal.App.3d 286, 295, 268 Cal.Rptr. 219, fn. omitted.) The granting of a mandatory injunction pending trial ‘ “is not permitted except in extreme cases where th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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