Cramer v. City of San Diego

Citation330 P.2d 235,164 Cal.App.2d 168
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Decision Date14 October 1958
PartiesHenry B. CRAMER, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. CITY OF SAN DIEGO, a Municipal Corporation, Defendant and Respondent. Civ. 5895.

Tom Sherrard, San Diego, for appellant.

J. F. DuPaul, City Atty., San Diego, and Alan M. Firestone, Chief Deputy, San Diego, for respondent.

O'Melveny & Myers, James L. Beebe, William D. Moore, Los Angeles, amici curiae in behalf of respondent.

COUGHLIN, Justice pro tem.

Action for declaratory relief.

This is an appeal from a judgment, in an action for declaratory relief, upholding the validity of charter provisions of the City of San Diego, of ordinances enacted thereunder, and of a resolution prescribing rules of interpretation and procedure.

The City of San Diego operates under a charter, adopted in 1931 pursuant to the provisions of Article XI, section 6, of the California Constitution (Stats.1931, Sen.Con.Res.No. 34, p. 2838). Section 90.2 was added to the charter by amendment in 1956 and, among other things, authorizes the city council to establish charges for sewer services; premits the billing and collection of these charges along with those for water as one item; and directs that the sewer service charges be paid into a fund used only for sewer system purposes, including 'paying all or any part of the cost and expense of extending, reconstructing or improving the sewer system of the City or any part thereof'. St.1957, p. 4221. The city council has adopted ordinances adding sections to the San Diego Municipal Code fixing sewer service charges; providing for their collection; and creating a sewer revenue fund. Section 64.31 of the Municipal Code provides that the sewer service charges shall be paid into this fund and shall be used only for the purposes therein designated, which include 'paying all or any part of the cost and expense of extending, constructing, reconstructing or improving the sewer system, or any part thereof'. Subsequently, the council adopted a resolution establishing rules of interpretation and procedure to be used in connection with the administration of the sewer service charges theretofore fixed.

Appellant, a citizen and taxpayer of San Diego, owning real property therein, had been charged for sewer services in accord with the foregoing Municipal Code provisions and rules of interpretation. He brought this action seeking a declaration that the charter provisions, the ordinances, and the rules in question are invalid under Article XI, section 11, of the California Constitution because they conflict with the general law, and also in that they constitute an unreasonable exercise of the police power.

Amongst other things, section 5471 of the Health and Safety Code empowers cities to prescribe charges for sewer services; permits the collection of such charges together with those for any other utility service by a single billing; and directs that the revenue so obtained 'shall be used only for the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, maintenance and operation of * * * sewer facilities; * * * provided, however, that such revenue shall not be used for the acquisition or construction of any local street sewers or laterals as distinguished from main trunk, interceptor and outfall sewers'.

Appellant adopts the premise that the authority of the City of San Diego respecting the acquisition, construction, maintenance and operation of a sewer system is limited by Article XI, section 11, of the California Constitution, which provides that 'Any * * * city * * * may make and enforce within its limits all such local, police, sanitary and other regulations as are not in conflict with general law.'; contends that the San Diego charter provisions, ordinances and rules under consideration are in conflict with section 5471 of the Health and Safety Code, a general law; and concludes that those charter provisions, ordinances and rules are invalid.

For the purposes of this decision it may be assumed that the provisions of the charter and ordinances in question authorizing the use of sewer service revenue for the 'cost and expense of extending, reconstructing or improving' the city sewer system conflict with the provisions of the Health and Safety Code that such revenue shall not be used for 'the acquisition * * * of new local street sewers or laterals'. However, the limitation of authority relied upon by appellant, which is expressed in Article XI, section 11, of the Constitution, does not apply to regulations concerning municipal affairs by a city chartered pursuant to Article XI, section 6, of the Constitution. A charter adopted thereunder is 'absolutely controlling and free from impairment by general laws of the state, as to all 'municipal affairs'. * * * In so far as such a charter makes provision relative to any 'municipal affair,' it is the supreme law, paramount to any law enacted by the State Legislature and general laws enacted by the Legislature in regard thereto can have no application'. Loop Lumber Co. v. Van Loben Sels, 173 Cal. 228, 232, 159 P. 600, 602; West Coast Advertising Co. v. City and County of San Francisco, 14 Cal.2d 516, 521, 95 P.2d 138; City of Pasadena v. Charleville, 215 Cal. 384, 388, 10 P.2d 745.

Where there is a conflict between state and local regulations the principle of law applicable is that stated in Natural Milk Producers Ass'n of California v. City and County of San Francisco, 20 Cal.2d 101, 108, 124 P.2d 25, 29, as follows:

'It is true, as a general rule, that when there is a conflict between the local police regulations and the general police regulations of the state, the former is invalid if passed after the general law...

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12 cases
  • Hansen v. City of San Buenaventura
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • April 8, 1985
    ...Santa Clara, supra, 137 Cal.App.3d 1037, 1040, 187 Cal.Rptr. 550 (to create funds for new construction) Cramer v. City of San Diego (1958) 164 Cal.App.2d 168, 169, 173, 330 P.2d 235 (funds used to pay for extending or improving the sewer system) Western Heights Land Corp. v. City of Ft. Col......
  • City of Los Angeles v. Offner
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • January 6, 1961
    ... ...       The theory of special assessments for local improvements such as the one here under discussion is stated as follows in County of San Diego v. Childs (1932), 217 Cal. 109, 117(5), 17 P.2d 734: 'The improvement must confer a special benefit upon the property assessed. (Citation.) The ... Harter v. Barkley, 158 Cal. 742, 745-746, 112 P. 556; Longridge Estates v. City of Los Angeles, 183 Cal.App.2d 533, 6 Cal.Rptr. 900; Cramer v. City of San Diego, 164 Cal.App.2d ... Page 478 ... [358 P.2d 934] 168, 171-172, 330 P.2d 235; Health & Saf. Code, § 5471; The Sewer ... ...
  • City of Santa Clara v. Von Raesfeld
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • October 5, 1970
    ...(1957) 48 Cal.2d 93, 99, 308 P.2d 1; Loop Lumber Co. v. Van Loben Sels (1916) 173 Cal. 228, 232, 159 P. 600; Cramer v. City of San Diego (1958) 164 Cal.App.2d 168, 171, 330 P.2d 235), and bond issues to finance municipal sewer projects are therefore also municipal affairs. (City of Redondo ......
  • Haymes v. Holzemer
    • United States
    • Ohio Court of Appeals
    • October 9, 1981
    ...scheme authorizing municipal authorities to charge rates to provide for sewer construction. Furthermore, in Cramer v. San Diego (1958), 164 Cal.App.2d 168, 330 P.2d 235, the Fourth District Court of Appeals of California upheld a statutory scheme which directed that the sewer service charge......
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