Articles Posted in Construction Law

by
Charges that constitute compensation for the use of government property are not subject to Proposition 218’s voter approval requirements. To constitute compensation for a property interest, however, the amount of the charge must bear a reasonable relationship to the value of the property interest, and to the extent the charge exceeds any reasonable value of the interest, it is a tax and requires voter approval. Plaintiffs contended that a one percent charge that was separately stated on electricity bills issued by Southern California Edison (SCE) was not compensation for the privilege of using property owned by the City of Santa Barbara but was instead a tax imposed without voter approval, in violation of Proposition 218. The City argued that this separate charge was the fee paid by SCE to the City for the privilege of using City property in connection with the delivery of electricity. The Supreme Court held that the complaint and stipulated facts adequately alleged the basis for a claim that the surcharge bore no reasonable relationship to the value of the property interest and was therefore a tax requiring voter approval under Proposition 218. The court remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Jacks v. City of Santa Barbara" on Justia Law

by
Defendants, two architectural firms, were the sole entities that provided architectural services for a collection of condominium units in San Francisco. The homeowners association sued several parties involving in the construction of the condominiums, including Defendants, alleging that negligent architectural design work performed by Defendants resulted in several defects. The trial court sustained a demurrer in favor of Defendants, determining that because the final decision regarding how the homes would be built rested with the owner, Defendants owed no duty to the future condominium owners. The court of appeal reversed, concluding that, under both the common law and the Right to Repair Act, Defendants owed a duty of care to the homeowners in this case. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an architect owes a duty of care to future homeowners in the design of a residential building where the architect is a principal architect on the project, and the duty of care extends to such architects even when they do not actually build the project or exercise ultimate control over construction; and (2) the complaint int his case sufficiently alleged the causal link between Defendants’ negligence and the condominium association’s injury. View "Beacon Residential Cmty. Ass’n. v. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill" on Justia Law

by
An owners association for a construction defect action against a condominium developer, seeking recovery for damage to its property and damage to the separate interests of the condominium owners who composed its membership. In response, the developer filed a motion to compel arbitration based on a clause in the recorded declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions providing that the association and the individual owners agreed to resolve any construction dispute with the developer through binding arbitration. The trial court determined that the clause embodied an agreement to arbitrate between the developer and the association but invalidated the agreement upon finding it marked by slight substantive unconscionability and a high degree of procedural unconscionability. The court of appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the arbitration clause bound the association and was not unconscionable. View "Pinnacle Museum Tower Ass'n v. Pinnacle Market Dev." on Justia Law

by
A charter city entered into certain contracts for the construction of public buildings. A federation of labor unions then petitioned the superior court for a peremptory writ of mandate, asserting that the city must comply with California's prevailing wage law notwithstanding local ordinances stating otherwise. The prevailing wage law requires that certain minimum wage levels be paid to contract workers constructing public works. At issue on appeal was whether, under the state constitution, the subject matter of the state's prevailing wage law was a "statewide concern" over which the state has primary legislative authority, or whether the matter was a municipal affair and therefore governed by the charter city's local ordinances. The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeal, which in turn affirmed the trial court's judgment denying the union's petition for a writ of mandate, holding that there was no statewide concern at issue in this case, and therefore, the state's prevailing wage law did not apply to the charter city. View "State Bldg. & Constr. Trades Council v. City of Vista" on Justia Law