Up until 1996 the City had the authority to increase assessments as needed to keep up with expenses by a vote of the City Council. But in 1996 voters approved Proposition 218 which, among other things, changed the law to require that any increases in assessments be approved by property owners through a mail-in ballot process. The mail-in ballot process is time-consuming for both the City and property owners and comes with its own costs, so the City held off asking residents to approve an increase. The point has been reached now where the City can no longer justify or afford the amount of the subsidy.
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When your neighborhood was being built in the mid-1980s, the developer and the County agreed to create an assessment district as authorized by State law. Its function is to maintain certain private properties that are of special benefit to property owners within the assessment district and to fund such maintenance by way of an annual assessment on the properties benefitted. This assessment is collected as part of your property tax payment. The revenues from the assessments fund the maintenance of landscaping and park facilities within the assessment district. Three such assessment districts were formed by the County and developers, and the administration of them was taken over by the City when it incorporated in 1989.
District is bounded by Pathfinder Road to the north, Brea Canyon Cutoff to the south, and SR 57 to the east. It comprises 544 parcels, 12 acres of slopes, 3 acres of brush. PDF Map
When the assessment district was formed, it was intended to be self-supporting, and the City Council had the authority to increase assessments each year to keep up with rising costs. However, Proposition 218 (1996) stripped that authority away and put it in the hands of property owners through a ballot process. As a result, assessment rates have not been increased for over 25 years even though cost of maintenance has. For more than a decade the City has subsidized the maintenance of the neighborhood districts by contributing money from its General Fund. The subsidy has grown to a point where it is becoming a significant drain on the City’s finances and the City has determined it can no longer sustain that subsidy level. The purpose of the vote is to once again make the assessment districts self-supporting as originally intended by increasing the assessments to property owners to align with the costs of maintenance.
Primarily the City contracts with a private contractor to perform basic weekly, monthly and annual landscape work such as mowing grass, trimming shrubs and trees, clearing brush from adjacent open space for fire safety, and keeping drainage ditches clear of debris to prevent erosion and flooding. Some areas require regular watering to stay healthy. Overall, this work is aimed at keeping the neighborhoods attractive, reducing erosion, and limiting dangers from wildland fire.
The proposed assessment for your property for fiscal year 2021-22 is printed on the Official Ballot included with the notice and information item. The new assessment rates by property type are as follows:
The method used for apportioning the assessment is based upon the proportional special benefits to be derived by the properties in the assessment area over and above general benefits conferred on real property or to the public at large. The apportionment of special benefit is a multi-step process: the first step is to identify the types of special benefit arising from the improvements or services, the second step is to estimate the general and special benefits, and the third step is to allocate the assessments to property based on the estimated relative special benefit for each type of property.
In order to determine the assessments, each property was assigned an estimated level of special benefit relative to a single family home. The method of benefit determination is based on the type of property and its size. After the level of benefit for each property was estimated, the total cost of the Landscape Assessment District Improvements to be funded by the proposed assessments was allocated to each property based on the estimated special benefit received.
An engineer’s report describing the proposed improvements or services, method of assessment, budget, benefits and proposed assessment for each parcel is available on the City’s website at www.diamondbarca.gov/41218
For more information, contact the Public Works Department-Engineering at (909) 839-7040.
The City is proposing to establish the assessment so that it keeps pace with increasing costs in maintenance by including a consumer price index component which would be capped at 3% per year. However, every year the City must do a report to justify any proposed increase. Assessments may only be increased if costs increase and all assessments, whether increased or not, must be approved by the City Council annually at a public meeting and the amount cannot exceed the cost of providing the service.
State law requires that any assessment funds be deposited into a special account, and they can only be spent on costs incurred in maintaining the assessment districts as permitted under the assessment district’s original formation. In addition, the properties cannot be assessed for any more than what it costs to perform such maintenance. As noted above, each year an independent report must be generated that verifies the assessment is aligned with the costs and each year the City Council must approve the assessment at a noticed public meeting. In addition, the City is required to put the maintenance contract out for competitive bidding and by State law, must award the contract to the lowest responsible bidder. No funds from these assessments can go into the City’s General fund, and they are subject to annual audits.
The City Council dissolved the existing District No. 41 on May 4, 2021, so there will be no more revenue in future years from that previous funding source. The proposed District No. 41-2021 would replace that old district with enough revenue to continue providing services the neighborhood is accustomed to. If the proposed assessment is not approved, the responsibility for all the landscaping work previous done by the City will fall on the shoulders of individual property owners or collectively on the various homeowners’ associations in the neighborhood. If the responsibility falls to a homeowners' association, this may cause some property owners HOA dues to increase. Property owners are encouraged to contact their HOA for more information.
Everyone who owns property within the boundaries of the districts can vote. This includes property owners who do not live in the area. Since property owners pay the assessments when they pay property taxes, State law requires that property owners vote on the assessment. The assessment will be considered approved if the number of mail-in ballots approving it exceed the number of mail-in ballots opposing it. As required by State law, ballots are weighted based upon the amount of assessment paid by each property owner.
Please follow these steps to complete the ballot:
1. Verify that the owner name, addresses, and parcel number(s) listed on the ballot are correct. If they are not correct, please telephone the City of Diamond Bar at (909) 839-7000. (If something is incorrect, find out from the caller what information is not correct and include this on your e-mail-form log to SCI.)
2. Mark or completely fill in the oval next to the word “YES” or “NO” to approve or disapprove of the proposed assessment. You may use a pencil or pen. Be sure to fill in only one oval, otherwise, your ballot may be disqualified.
3. Sign and date the ballot. After making your vote, simply FOLD the ballot so that your vote is on the inside of the fold. Then place the ballot in the return envelope provided and seal the envelope. No postage is necessary. Please see the response to the next question below for more information on how to return the ballot.
4. If you make a mistake in completing your ballot or wish to change or withdraw your ballot, please submit a request by mail to the City of Diamond Bar, at 21810 Copley, Diamond Bar, CA 91765; or in person at the same address, or by calling (909) 839-7000.
You may return your ballot in either of the following ways:
1. Mail it to the address shown in the enclosed, postage-paid return envelope so it is received on or before July 6, 2021.
2. Deliver it in person
a. By July 6, 2021, 5 p.m. to the Diamond Bar City Clerk, at the Diamond Bar City Hall located at 21810 Copley Drive, Diamond Bar, CA.
b. On July 6, 2021 after 5 p.m. and before 6:30 p.m. (and previous to the close of the public input portion of the public hearing) to the Diamond Bar City Clerk, at City Hall, located at 21810 Copley Drive, Diamond Bar, CA.
3. Deliver it in person to the public hearing which is scheduled to begin at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, at the City Hall, Windmill Room, First Floor located at 21810 Copley Drive, Diamond Bar, CA.
Only official ballots that are signed, marked with the property owner’s support or opposition, and received by the deadline will be counted. Ballots will be tabulated under the direction of the City Clerk (Tabulator) on July 6 after the last call for ballots, at the conclusion of comment period of the Public Hearing. The results of the balloting are expected to be announced at the same City Council Meeting.
The City Council will not impose the assessment if there is a majority protest. A majority protest exists if, upon conclusion of the ballot tabulation, ballots submitted in opposition to the assessment exceed ballots submitted in favor of the assessment. Ballots shall be weighted according to the proportional financial obligation of the affected property.
Each ballot is weighted by the amount of assessment it represents. In other words, if one property owner of a home receives a ballot for $525.22 in proposed assessment, and another property owner of a condominium receives a ballot for $483.21 in proposed assessment, the first property owner’s ballot will count for approximately 1.1 times that of the second property owner because the first property owner’s ballot is for a larger proposed assessment amount.
To request a replacement ballot, contact the City Clerk's office at (909) 839-7000 and provide the following information:
Replacement ballots will be mailed to the name and address listed on the Los Angeles County Property Assessor records. If requesting to be mailed to different address, proof of ownership must be submitted. Proof of ownership may include property deed, title report or settlement statement (HUD).
To report incorrect information contained on your ballot, contact the City Clerk's office at (909) 839-7000.
Yes. The person who signed and submitted a ballot may withdraw the ballot by submitting a written request to the City Clerk's Office, located at City Hall, 21810 Copley Drive, Diamond Bar, CA, 91765 by mail or in person; or by calling (909) 839-7000. Note: Request must be received before the conclusion of the comment period of the City Council meeting public hearing on July 6.
Yes. Please perform the following two steps to change your vote:
If you own property in an area that has an existing homeowners association you may be paying fees to the HOA for maintenance of property and facilities that are not part of the assessment district’s responsibility. Typically, the HOA fees would be for common areas within a condominium complex.
Property taxes fund a wide range of governmental services and the largest portion of the property tax revenue goes to fund public schools. The City only receives about 5.2% of the property taxes you pay, and that goes for supporting various City-wide functions including police services, street maintenance and improvements, park maintenance and improvements, maintenance of other public facilities, and general administrative services.
Several neighborhoods in the City maintain private common areas and landscaping along streets by way of a homeowner’s association. These HOAs collect fees from the property owners to pay the costs of maintenance. From the standpoint of common maintenance, assessment districts perform a function similar to that of an HOA.
Proposition 218 requires that property owners pay their share of the maintenance costs to the extent each property owner is benefitted and thus, forbids any exemptions or discounts on assessments for seniors or low income.