This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 06/04/2021 at 02:56:49 (UTC).

FLIGHTSAFETY INTERNATIONAL, INCORPORATED VS LOS ANGELES COUNTY ASSESSMENT APPEALS BOARD, ET AL.

Case Summary

On 10/02/2019 FLIGHTSAFETY INTERNATIONAL, INCORPORATED filed an Other - Other Judicial Review lawsuit against LOS ANGELES COUNTY ASSESSMENT APPEALS BOARD. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is JAMES C. CHALFANT. The case status is Not Classified By Court.
Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    *******4277

  • Filing Date:

    10/02/2019

  • Case Status:

    Not Classified By Court

  • Case Type:

    Other - Other Judicial Review

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

JAMES C. CHALFANT

 

Party Details

Petitioners and Not Classified By Court

FLIGHTSAFETY INTERNATIONAL INCORPORATED

NAKAMURA TOSHIKO

NAKAMURA TAKASHI

NAKAMURA MITZI

ARROWTAIL LLC

Respondent

LOS ANGELES COUNTY ASSESSMENT APPEALS BOARD

Interested Parties

LOS ANGELES COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

LOS ANGELES COUNTY BOARD SUPERVISORS

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Interested Party, Respondent and Petitioner Attorneys

POOL ROBERT

SLATTERY MICHAEL KEVIN

PARKER THOMAS REED

WICKHAM MARY CONWAY

 

Court Documents

Notice - NOTICE RE: PETITIONERS' OBJECTIONS TO JOINT APPENDIX CONTENT

4/20/2021: Notice - NOTICE RE: PETITIONERS' OBJECTIONS TO JOINT APPENDIX CONTENT

Reply - REPLY PETITIONERS' REPLY

4/20/2021: Reply - REPLY PETITIONERS' REPLY

Notice of Lodging - NOTICE OF LODGING NOTICE OF LODGING OF EXCERPTS FROM ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD

4/21/2021: Notice of Lodging - NOTICE OF LODGING NOTICE OF LODGING OF EXCERPTS FROM ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD

Notice of Lodging - NOTICE OF LODGING RE: JOINT APPENDIX [PAPER COPY]; TRIAL NOTEBOOK; MEMOREX 32-GIGABYTE USB THUMB DRIVE

4/21/2021: Notice of Lodging - NOTICE OF LODGING RE: JOINT APPENDIX [PAPER COPY]; TRIAL NOTEBOOK; MEMOREX 32-GIGABYTE USB THUMB DRIVE

Objection - OBJECTION PETITIONERS' OBJECTIONS TO RESPONDENT'S AND REAL PARTIES IN INTERESTS' NOTICE OF LODGING OF EXCERPTS FROM ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD

4/22/2021: Objection - OBJECTION PETITIONERS' OBJECTIONS TO RESPONDENT'S AND REAL PARTIES IN INTERESTS' NOTICE OF LODGING OF EXCERPTS FROM ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD

Request for Statement of Decision

4/22/2021: Request for Statement of Decision

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE)

4/29/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE)

Order - DECISION ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE: DENIED

4/29/2021: Order - DECISION ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDATE: DENIED

Judgment - JUDGMENT [PROPOSED] JUDGMENT ON VERIFIED PETITION FOR PEREMPTORY WRIT OF MANDATE

5/10/2021: Judgment - JUDGMENT [PROPOSED] JUDGMENT ON VERIFIED PETITION FOR PEREMPTORY WRIT OF MANDATE

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (NOTICE OF ENTRY OF JUDGMENT AND JUDGMENT)

5/10/2021: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (NOTICE OF ENTRY OF JUDGMENT AND JUDGMENT)

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (NOTICE OF ENTRY OF JUDGMENT AND JUDGMENT) OF 05/10/2021, NOTICE OF ENTRY OF JUDGMENT AND JUDGMENT

5/10/2021: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (NOTICE OF ENTRY OF JUDGMENT AND JUDGMENT) OF 05/10/2021, NOTICE OF ENTRY OF JUDGMENT AND JUDGMENT

Notice - NOTICE OF ENTRY OF JUDGMENT

5/18/2021: Notice - NOTICE OF ENTRY OF JUDGMENT

Notice - NOTICE NOTICE OF CHANGE OF ADDRESS OF PETITIONERS' COUNSEL OF RECORD

3/26/2021: Notice - NOTICE NOTICE OF CHANGE OF ADDRESS OF PETITIONERS' COUNSEL OF RECORD

Request for Judicial Notice - REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE IN SUPPORT OF PETITIONERS OPENING BRIEF; DECLARATION OF ROBERT A POOL

4/7/2021: Request for Judicial Notice - REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE IN SUPPORT OF PETITIONERS OPENING BRIEF; DECLARATION OF ROBERT A POOL

Brief - BRIEF PETITIONERS OPENING BRIEF

4/7/2021: Brief - BRIEF PETITIONERS OPENING BRIEF

Stipulation and Order - STIPULATION AND ORDER STIPULATION RE: AGREED FACTS; [PROPOSED] ORDER THEREON

4/9/2021: Stipulation and Order - STIPULATION AND ORDER STIPULATION RE: AGREED FACTS; [PROPOSED] ORDER THEREON

Opposition - OPPOSITION RESPONDENT AND REAL PARTY-IN-INTEREST'S JOINT OPPOSITION BRIEF

4/14/2021: Opposition - OPPOSITION RESPONDENT AND REAL PARTY-IN-INTEREST'S JOINT OPPOSITION BRIEF

Notice - NOTICE OF FILING

4/14/2021: Notice - NOTICE OF FILING

32 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 05/18/2021
  • DocketNotice (of Entry of Judgment); Filed by Los Angeles County Assessment Appeals Board (Respondent); Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (Real Party in Interest); County of Los Angeles (Real Party in Interest)

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  • 05/10/2021
  • Docketat 10:30 AM in Department 85, James C. Chalfant, Presiding; Court Order

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  • 05/10/2021
  • DocketCertificate of Mailing for ((Notice of Entry of Judgment and Judgment) of 05/10/2021, Notice of Entry of Judgment and Judgment); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/10/2021
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Notice of Entry of Judgment and Judgment)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 05/10/2021
  • DocketJudgment (on Verified Petition for Peremptory Writ of Mandate); Filed by Los Angeles County Assessment Appeals Board (Respondent); Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (Real Party in Interest); County of Los Angeles (Real Party in Interest)

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  • 04/29/2021
  • Docketat 09:30 AM in Department 85, James C. Chalfant, Presiding; Hearing on Petition for Writ of Mandate - Held

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/29/2021
  • DocketDecision on petition for writ of mandate: denied; Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/29/2021
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Hearing on Petition for Writ of Mandate)); Filed by Clerk

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  • 04/22/2021
  • DocketObjection (Petitioners' Objections to Respondent's and Real Parties in Interests' Notice of Lodging of Excerpts from Administrative Record); Filed by FlightSafety International, Incorporated (Petitioner)

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  • 04/22/2021
  • DocketRequest for Statement of Decision; Filed by FlightSafety International, Incorporated (Petitioner)

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48 More Docket Entries
  • 01/02/2020
  • DocketCase Management Statement; Filed by FlightSafety International, Incorporated (Petitioner)

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  • 12/30/2019
  • DocketCase Management Statement; Filed by Los Angeles County Assessment Appeals Board (Respondent)

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  • 11/14/2019
  • DocketAnswer; Filed by Los Angeles County Assessment Appeals Board (Respondent); Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (Real Party in Interest); County of Los Angeles (Real Party in Interest)

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  • 10/15/2019
  • DocketDeclaration ( of Personal Service on Real Parties in Interest); Filed by FlightSafety International, Incorporated (Petitioner)

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  • 10/15/2019
  • DocketNotice ( of Trial Setting Conference and Attached Orders Thereon); Filed by FlightSafety International, Incorporated (Petitioner)

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  • 10/15/2019
  • DocketDeclaration ( of Personal Service on Respondent); Filed by FlightSafety International, Incorporated (Petitioner)

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  • 10/03/2019
  • DocketNotice of Trial Setting Conference and Attached Orders Thereon; Filed by Clerk

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  • 10/02/2019
  • DocketNotice of Case Assignment - Unlimited Civil Case; Filed by Clerk

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  • 10/02/2019
  • DocketCivil Case Cover Sheet; Filed by FlightSafety International, Incorporated (Petitioner)

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  • 10/02/2019
  • DocketPetition for Writ of Mandate; Filed by FlightSafety International, Incorporated (Petitioner)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: *******4277    Hearing Date: April 29, 2021    Dept: 85

FlightSafety International, Inc. v. Los Angeles County Assessment Appeals Board,

*******4277

Tentative decision on petition for writ of mandate: denied

Petitioner FlightSafety International, Inc. (“FlightSafety”) and related and consolidated Petitioners Arrowtail, LLC (“Arrowtail”), Takashi Nakamura (“Takashi”), Toshiko Nakamura (“Toshiko”), and Mitzi Nakamura (“Mitzi”) petition the court for a writ of mandate compelling Respondent Los Angeles County Assessment Appeals Board (“AAB” or “Board”) and Real Party-in-Interest Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (“Supervisors”) to comply with their ministerial duties under Revenue and Taxation Code[1] section 1604(c), (d), and (e).

The court has read and considered the moving papers, opposition, and reply,[2] and renders the following tentative decision.

A. Statement of the Case

1. Petition *******4277

Petitioner FlightSafety commenced this proceeding on October 2, 2019, alleging a cause of action for traditional mandamus. The verified Petition alleges in pertinent part as follows.

FlightSafety at all times relevant owned or leased certain personal and real property within the County of Los Angeles (“County”) at the location commonly known as 4330 Donald Douglas Drive, Long Beach, California ("FlightSafety Property"). The FlightSafety Property is subject to ad valorem taxation by the County. The FlightSafety Property is known to Respondent Board as Unsecured Property Tax Bill Numbers 0040791821 (the "2013 Annual Bill"), and 0049923464 (the "2013 Escape Bill").

On November 19, 2013, FlightSafety, under section 1603, timely filed with Respondent Board an assessment appeal application that Respondent Board identified as Application Number 2013-008724 (the "FlightSafety 2013 Application"). On July 23, 2015—within two years after Petitioner filed the FlightSafety 2013 Application— FlightSafety agreed to extend the two-year time within which Respondent Board must hear and decide the FlightSafety 2013 Application, under section 1604(c) (the "Section 1604(c) Extension Agreement").

As of the date of the Petition, Respondent Board has delayed more than four years beyond July 23, 2015 to hear and decide the FlightSafety 2013 Application. Respondent Board failed to proceed on the FlightSafety 2013 Application as mandated by section 1604(c) and (d) in that the section 1604(c) Extension Agreement expired as a matter of law two years after its making and the Board further delayed in convening a hearing on the FlightSafety 2013 Application within two years of the section 1604(c) Extension Agreement's expiration. Respondent Board failed in its ministerial duty under section 1604(c) and (d) to hear and decide the FlightSafety 2013 Application within two years of the expiration of the Section 1604(c) Extension Agreement and to notify FlightSafety that it would not do so.

After the section 1604(c) Extension Agreement expired on or about July 23, 2017, Respondent Board failed in its ministerial duty under section 1604(c) and (d) to enter on the 2013 unsecured assessment roll of the County FlightSafety's $2 million value the FlightSafety Property opinion set forth on the FlightSafety 2013 Application. Respondent Board failed in its ministerial duty under section 1604(d)(l), to cancel the 2013 Escape Bill that issued on the FlightSafety Property. Respondent Board’s failure to perform its ministerial duties was arbitrary and capricious.

2. Petition 20STCP01092

Petitioner FlightSafety commenced this proceeding on March 13, 2020, alleging a cause for traditional mandamus. The verified petition alleges in pertinent part as follows.

On June 21, 2013, FlightSafety timely filed with Respondent Board an assessment appeal application under section 1605 that Respondent Board identified as Application Number 2012-023469 (the "FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application"). The FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application contested the assessments of the FlightSafety Property.

On October 14, 2014—within two years after Petitioner filed the FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application— FlightSafety agreed to extend the two-year time within which Respondent Board must hear evidence and make a final determination on the FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application under section 1604(c) (the "FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application Extension Agreement").

As of the date of the Petition, Respondent Board has delayed more than five years beyond October 14, 2014, to hear evidence and make a final determination on the FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application. Respondent Board failed to proceed on the FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application as mandated by section 1604(c) and (d) in that the FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application Extension Agreement FlightSafety expired as a matter of law two years after its making and Respondent Board further delayed to convene a hearing on the FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application within two years of the FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application Extension Agreement's expiration.

As of the date this Petition is filed, Respondent Board failed to issue to FlightSafety the notice mandated by section 1604(e), informing FlightSafety that Respondent Board would not hear evidence and make a final determination on the FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application within two years of its timely filing, and that further informs FlightSafety that the opinion of value reflected on the FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application shall be the value upon which taxes are to be levied as a result of Respondent Board's failure to hold a hearing within the prescribed time period.

Respondent Board unlawfully and unilaterally imposed waiver of the protections of section 1604(c) for the FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application in the FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application Extension Agreement.

Respondent Board failed in its ministerial duty under section 1604(c) and (d) to hear evidence and to make final determination on the FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application within two years of the expiration of the FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application Extension Agreement and in failing to notify FlightSafety that it would not do so.

After the FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application Extension Agreement expired, Respondent Board failed in its ministerial duty under section 1604(c) and (d) to enter on the 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 County assessment rolls FlightSafety's value opinions for the respective assessment years for the FlightSafety Property as expressly set forth on the FlightSafety 09-12 Audit Application.

Respondent Board failed in its ministerial duty under section 1604(d)(1), to cancel the 2011 Escape Bill that issued from the County on the FlightSafety Property. Respondent Board’s failure to perform its ministerial duty was arbitrary and capricious.

3. Petition 20STCP00747

Petitioner Arrowtail commenced this proceeding on February 21, 2020, alleging a cause of action for traditional mandamus. The verified Petition alleges in pertinent part as follows.

Arrowtail at all times relevant owned certain real property within the County at the locations commonly known as 15015 Mission Hills Road, and 11630 Indian Hills Road, Los Angeles, California, consisting of five contiguous parcels, known to the County as Assessor Parcel Numbers 2664-022-011, 2664-023-022, 2664-023-024, 2664-023- 030, and 2664-023-033 (collectively, the "Arrowtail Property").

Beginning in 2012, through and including 2015, Arrowtail timely filed with Respondent Board assessment appeal applications of the Arrowtail Property that Respondent Board identified, respectively, as Application Number 2012-023590 (the "Arrowtail 2012 Application"), Application Number 2013-805253 (the "Arrowtail 2013 Application"), Application Number 2014-811534 (the "Arrowtail 2014 Application"), and Application Number 2015-805847 (the "Arrowtail 2015 Application") (collectively “Arrowtail Applications”).

On November 19, 2015, Arrowtail agreed to extend the two-year time within which Respondent Board must hear evidence and must make a final determination on the Arrowtail 2012 Application, under section 1604(c) (the "2012 Application Extension Agreement").

On February 5, 2015, Arrowtail agreed to extend the two-year time within which Respondent Board must hear evidence and must make a final determination on the Arrowtail 2013 Application, under section 1604(c) (the "2013 Application Extension Agreement").

On January 18, 2016, Arrowtail agreed to extend the two-year time within which Respondent Board must hear evidence and must make a final determination on the Arrowtail 2014 Application, under section 1604(c) (the "2014 Application Extension Agreement").

On October 27, 2015, Arrowtail agreed to extend the two-year time within which Respondent Board must hear evidence and must make a final determination on the Arrowtail 2015 Application, under section 1604(c) (the "2015 Application Extension Agreement").

As of the date of the Petition, Respondent Board has delayed more than two years beyond the agreed-upon extension dates to hear evidence and to make a final determination on the Arrowtail Applications as mandated by section 1604(c) and (d) in that the Extension Agreements Arrowtail expired as a matter of law two years after their making.

Respondent Board unlawfully and unilaterally imposed waiver of the protections of section 1604(c) for the Arrowtail Applications in the Arrowtail Extension Agreements. Respondent Board failed in its ministerial duty under section 1604(c) and (d) to hear evidence and to make final determinations on the Arrowtail Applications within two years of the expiration of the Arrowtail Extension Agreements and to notify Arrowtail that it would not do so.

After the Arrowtail Extension Agreements expired, Respondent Board failed in its ministerial duty under section 1604(c) and 1604(d) to enter on the 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 annual County assessment rolls Arrowtail's value opinion for the Arrowtail Property set forth on the respective Arrowtail Applications. Respondent Board’s failure to perform its ministerial duty was arbitrary and capricious.

4. Petition 20STCP01124

Petitioner Takashi commenced this proceeding on March 16, 2020, alleging a cause of action for traditional mandamus. The verified Petition alleges in pertinent part as follows.

Takashi owned certain real property, a single-family residence, within the County at the locations commonly known as 24 Cinchring Road, Rolling Hills, California, and known to the County as Assessor Parcel Number 7567-017-012 (the "Takashi Property").

On November 22, 2016, Takashi timely filed with Respondent Board an assessment appeal application for the Takashi Property that Respondent Board identified as Application Number 2016-805813 (the "Takashi 2016 Application").

On February 9, 2017, Takashi agreed to extend the two-year time within which Respondent Board must hear evidence and must make a final determination on the Takashi 2016 Application, under section 1604(c) (the "Takashi 2016 Application Extension Agreement").

As of the date of the Petition, Respondent Board has delayed more than two years beyond February 2017 to hear evidence and to make a final determination on the Takashi 2016 Application as mandated by section 1604(c) and (d) in that the Takashi 2016 Application Extension Agreement Takashi expired as a matter of law two years after its making.

Respondent Board failed to issue to Takashi the notice mandated by section 1604(e) informing Takashi that Respondent Board would not hear and decide the Takashi 2016 Application within two years of its timely filing, and that further informs Takashi that the Takashi's opinion of value reflected on the application shall be the value upon which taxes are to be levied as a result of Respondent Board's failure to hold a hearing within the prescribed time period.

Respondent Board unlawfully and unilaterally imposed waiver of the protections of section 1604(c) for the Takashi 2016 Application in the Takashi 2016 Application Extension Agreement.

Respondent Board failed in its ministerial duty under section 1604(c) and (d) to hear evidence and to make final determinations on the Takashi 2016 Application within two years of the expiration of the Takashi 2016 Application Extension Agreement and to notify Takashi that it would not do so.

After the Takashi 2016 Application Extension Agreement expired, Respondent Board failed in its ministerial duty under section 1604(c) and (d) to enter on the 2016 County annual assessment roll Takashi's value opinion for the Takashi Property set forth on the respective Takashi 2016 Application. Board’s failure to perform its ministerial duties was arbitrary and capricious.

5. Petition 20STCP01113

Petitioner Toshiko commenced this proceeding on March 16, 2020, alleging a cause of action for traditional mandamus. The verified Petition alleges in pertinent part as follows.

Toshiko owned certain real property, a single-family residence, within the County at the locations commonly known as 18 Poppy Trail, Rolling Hills, California, and known to the County as Assessor Parcel Number 7567-001-011 (the "Toshiko Property").

On November 21, 2017, Toshiko timely filed with Respondent Board an assessment appeal application for the Toshiko Property that Respondent Board identified as Application Number 2017-804207 (the "Toshiko 2017 Application").

On February 15, 2018, Toshiko agreed to extend the two-year time within which Respondent Board must hear evidence and must make a final determination on the Toshiko 2017 Application under section 1604(c) (the "Toshiko 2017 Application Extension Agreement").

As of the date of the Petition, Respondent Board has delayed more than two years beyond February 2018, to hear evidence and to make a final determination on the Toshiko 2017 Application as mandated by section 1604(c) and (d) in that the Toshiko 2017 Application Extension Agreement expired as a matter of law two years after its making.

Respondent Board failed to issue to Toshiko the notice mandated by section 1604(e) informing Toshiko that Respondent Board would not hear and decide the Toshiko 2017 Application within two years of its timely filing and that further informs Toshiko that the Toshiko's opinion of value reflected on the application shall be the value upon which taxes are to be levied as a result of Respondent Board's failure to hold a hearing within the prescribed time period.

Respondent Board unlawfully and unilaterally imposed waiver of the protections of section 1604(c) for the Toshiko 2017 Application in the Toshiko 2017 Application Extension Agreement.

Respondent Board failed in its ministerial duty under section 1604(c) and (d) to hear evidence and to make final determinations on the Toshiko 2017 Application within two years of the expiration of the Toshiko 2017 Application Extension Agreement and to notify Toshiko that it would not do so.

After the Toshiko 2017 Application Extension Agreement expired, Respondent Board failed in its ministerial duty under section 1604(c) and (d) to enter on the 2017 County annual assessment roll Toshiko's value opinion for the Toshiko Property set forth on the respective Toshiko 2017 Application. Board’s failure to perform its ministerial duties was arbitrary and capricious.

6. Petition 20STCP01053

Petitioner Mitzi commenced this proceeding on March 12, 2020, alleging a cause of action for traditional mandamus. The verified Petition alleges in pertinent part as follows.

Mitzi owned certain real property, a single-family residence, within the County at the locations commonly known as 18 Poppy Trail, Rolling Hills, California, and known to the County as Assessor Parcel Number 7567-001-011 (the "Mitzi Property").

On November 22, 2016, Mitzi timely filed with Respondent Board an assessment appeal application of the Mitzi Property that Respondent Board identified as Application Number 2016-805819 (the "Mitzi 2016 Application").

On February 9, 2017, Mitzi agreed to extend the two-year time within which Respondent Board must hear evidence and must make a final determination on the Mitzi 2016 Application under section 1604(c) (the "Mitzi 2016 Application Extension Agreement").

As of the date of the Petition, Respondent Board has delayed more than two years beyond February 2017 to hear evidence and to make a final determination on the Mitzi 2016 Application, as mandated by section 1604(c) and (d) in that the Mitzi 2016 Application Extension Agreement expired as a matter of law two years after its making.

Respondent Board failed to issue to Mitzi the notice mandated by section 1604(e) informing Mitzi that Respondent Board would not hear and decide the Mitzi 2016 Application within two years of its timely filing and that further informs Mitzi that the Mitzi's opinion of value reflected on the application shall be the value upon which taxes are to be levied as a result of Respondent Board's failure to hold a hearing within the prescribed time period.

Respondent Board unlawfully and unilaterally imposed waiver of the protections of section 1604(c) for the Mitzi 2016 Application in the Mitzi 2016 Application Extension Agreement.

Respondent Board failed in its ministerial duty under section 1604(c) and (d) to hear evidence and to make final determinations on the Mitzi 2016 Application within two years of the expiration of the Mitzi 2016 Application Extension Agreement and to notify Mitzi that it would not do so.

After the Mitzi 2016 Application Extension Agreement expired, Respondent Board failed in its ministerial duty under section 1604(c) and (d) to enter on the 2016 County annual assessment roll Mitzi's value opinion for the Mitzi Property set forth on the respective Mitzi 2016 Application. Board’s failure to perform its ministerial duties was arbitrary and capricious.

2. Course of Proceedings

On November 14, 2019, the Board and Supervisors filed an Answer to the Petition in the instant case. On August 11, 2020, the court related and consolidated for trial *******4277, 20STCP00747, 20STCP01053, 20STCP01092, 20STCP01113, and 20STCP01124, designated the instant case as the lead case, and ordered that all future documents be filed under the lead case.

B. Standard of Review

A party may seek to set aside an agency decision by petitioning for either a writ of administrative mandamus (CCP ;1094.5) or of traditional mandamus. CCP ;1085.

A petition for traditional mandamus is appropriate in all actions “to compel the performance of an act which the law specially enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station....” CCP ;1085. “A writ of mandate may be issued by any court to any inferior tribunal, corporation, board, or person, to compel the performance of an act which the law specially enjoins, as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or to compel the admission of a party to the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which the party is entitled, and from which the party is unlawfully precluded by such inferior tribunal, corporation, board, or person.” CCP ;1085(a).

A traditional writ of mandate under CCP section 1085 is the method of compelling the performance of a legal, ministerial duty. Pomona Police Officers’ Assn. v. City of Pomona, (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 578, 583-84. Generally, mandamus will lie when (1) there is no plain, speedy, and adequate alternative remedy, (2) the respondent has a clear, present, and usually ministerial duty to perform, and (3) the petitioner has a clear and beneficial right to performance. Id. at 584 (internal citations omitted). Whether a statute imposes a ministerial duty for which mandamus is available, or a mere obligation to perform a discretionary function, is a question of statutory interpretation. AIDS Healthcare Foundation v. Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health, (2011) 197 Cal.App.4th 693, 701.

A ministerial act is one that is performed by a public officer “without regard to his or her own judgment or opinion concerning the propriety of such act.” Ellena v. Department of Insurance, (2014) 230 Cal.App.4th 198, 205. It is “essentially automatic based on whether certain fixed standards and objective measures have been met.” Sustainability of Parks, Recycling & Wildlife Legal Defense Fund v. County of Solano Dept. of Resource Mgmt., (2008) 167 Cal.App.4th 1350, 1359. By contrast, a discretionary act involves the exercise of judgment by a public officer. County of Los Angeles v. City of Los Angeles, (2013) 214 Cal.App.4th 643, 653-54.

No administrative record is required for traditional mandamus to compel performance of a ministerial duty.

C. Governing Law

1. Sections 1603 and 1604

A reduction in an assessment on the local roll shall not be made unless the party affected or his or her agent makes and files with the county board a verified, written application showing the facts claimed to require the reduction and the applicant's opinion of the full value of the property. The form for the application shall be prescribed by the State Board of Equalization. ;1603(a).

If the county board fails to hear evidence and fails to make a final determination on the application for reduction in assessment of property within two years of the timely filing of the application, the applicant's opinion of value as reflected on the application for reduction in assessment shall be the value upon which taxes are to be levied for the tax year or tax years covered by the application, unless either of the following occurs:

(1) The applicant and the county board mutually agree in writing, or on the record, to an extension of time for the hearing;

(2) The application for reduction is consolidated for hearing with another application by the same applicant with respect to which an extension of time for the hearing has been granted. In no case shall the application be consolidated without the applicant's written agreement after the two-year time period has passed or after an extension of the two-year time period previously agreed to by the applicant has expired. ;1604(c).

The reduction in assessment reflecting the applicant's opinion of value shall not be made, however, until two years after the close of the filing period during which the timely application was filed. Further, this subdivision shall not apply to applications for reductions in assessments of property where the applicant has failed to provide full and complete information as required by law or where litigation is pending directly relating to the issues involved in the application. Id.

When the applicant's opinion of value, as stated on the application, has been placed on the assessment roll pursuant to subdivision (c), and the application requested a reduction in the base year value of an assessment, the applicant's opinion of value shall remain on the roll until the county board makes a final determination on the application. The value so determined by the county board, plus appropriate adjustments for the inflation factor, shall be entered on the assessment roll for the fiscal year in which the value is determined. No increased or escape taxes other than those required by a purchase, change in ownership, or new construction, or resulting from application of the inflation factor to the applicant's opinion of value shall be levied for the tax years during which the county board failed to act. ;1604(d)(1).

When the applicant's opinion of value has been placed on the assessment roll pursuant to subdivision (c) for any application other than an application requesting a reduction in base year value, the applicant's opinion of value shall be enrolled on the assessment roll for the tax year or tax years covered by that application. ;1604(d)(2).

The county board shall notify the applicant in writing of any decision by that board not to hold a hearing on the applicant's application for reduction in assessment within the two-year period specified in subdivision (c). This notice shall also inform the applicant that the applicant's opinion of value as reflected on the application for reduction in assessment shall, as a result of the county board's failure to hold a hearing within the prescribed time period, be the value upon which taxes are to be levied in the absence of the application of either paragraph (1) or (2) of subdivision (c). ;1604(e).

2. Rule 309(b)

A hearing must be held and a final determination made on the application within two years of the timely filing of an application for reduction in assessment submitted pursuant to subdivision (a) of section 1603 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, unless the applicant or the applicant's agent and the board mutually agree in writing or on the record to an extension of time. Property Tax Rule 309(b).[3]

D. Statement of Facts[4]

1. FlightSafety Application

FlightSafety filed the FlightSafety 2013 Application on November 19, 2013, which contests the 2013 Annual Bill for the FlightSafety Property. Stip., p.2, ¶¶ 2-3. On November 14, 2018, the AAB reduced the assessment under the 2013 Escape Bill from $2,843,093 to $2,543,214. Stip., p.2, ¶5.

FlightSafety and the AAB agreed on July 23, 2015 to extend the two-year time within which the AAB must hear evidence and make a final determination on the FlightSafety 2013 Application under section 1604(c). Stip., p.2, ¶6; AR 7.

During the period between July 23, 2015 and October 2, 2019, the AAB did not order FlightSafety’s opinion of value, as set forth on the FlightSafety 2013 Application, be enrolled on any of the County’s assessment rolls for the tax year covered by the FlightSafety 2013 Application. Stip., p.3, ¶8.

During the period between July 23, 2015 and October 2, 2019, the AAB did not notify FlightSafety in writing of any decision by the AAB not to hold a hearing on the FlightSafety 2013 Application within the two-year period specified in section 1604(c). Stip., p.3, ¶9.

2. FlightSafety Audit Application

FlightSafety filed the FlightSafety Audit Application on June 21, 2013. Stip., p.3, ¶2. The FlightSafety Audit Application contests assessments for the years 2009-2012 for the FlightSafety Property. Stip., p.3, ¶3. FlightSafety and the AAB agreed on October 14, 2014 to extend the two-year time within which the AAB must hear evidence and make a final determination on the FlightSafety Audit Application, under section 1604(c). Stip., p.4, ¶4; AR 669.

On January 12, 2017, the AAB heard arguments and received evidence proffered by FlightSafety and the County Assessor exclusively concerning the issue whether, as of January 12, 2017, the FlightSafety Audit Extension Agreement had expired on the second anniversary of its origination. FlightSafety requested written findings from the AAB on the same exclusive issue. Stip., p.4, ¶5.

On May 8, 2017, the AAB issued written findings denying the FlightSafety Audit Application on grounds that the FlightSafety Audit Extension Agreement did not expire on the second anniversary of its origination. Stip., p.4, ¶6.

The period between October 14, 2014 and May 8, 2017 exceeded two years. Stip., p.4, ¶7. During the period between October 14, 2014 and March 13, 2020, the AAB did not order FlightSafety’s opinion of value, as set forth on the FlightSafety Audit Application, be enrolled on any of the County’s assessment rolls for any of the tax years covered by the FlightSafety Audit Application. Stip., p.4, ¶8.

During the period between October 14, 2014 and March 13, 2020, the AAB did not notify FlightSafety in writing of any decision by the AAB not to hold a hearing on the FlightSafety 2013 Application within the two-year period specified in section 1604(c). Stip., p.4, ¶9.

3. Arrowtail Applications

Between October 19, 2012 and November 16, 2015, Arrowtail filed the Arrowtail Applications, challenging assessments for the Arrowtail Property made in years 2012-2015. Stip., pp. 5-8, ¶¶ 2-3, 9-10, 15-16, 21-22. Arrowtail and the AAB agreed to extend the two-year time within which the AAB must hear evidence and make a final determination on each of the Arrowtail Applications. Stip., p.5, ¶¶ 4-5, 11, 17, 23; AR 107, 215, 263, 296-98, 345.

As of the filing of Arrowtail’s Petition on February 21, 2020, the AAB did not hear evidence and make a final determination on the Arrowtail Applications. Stip., pp. 5-8, ¶¶ 6, 12, 18, 24. The AAB has not ordered Arrowtail’s opinions of value as set for in the Arrowtail Applications, be enrolled on any of the County’s assessment rolls for the tax years covered by the Arrowtail Applications. Stip., pp. 5-8, ¶¶ 7, 13, 19, 25. The AAB did not notify Arrowtail in writing of any decision by the AAB not to hold a hearing on the Arrowtail Applications. Stip., pp. 5-8, ¶¶ 8, 14, 20, 26.

4. Takashi Application

Takashi filed the Takashi 2016 Application on November 22, 2016, challenging the 2016 assessment for the Takashi Property. Stip., p. 9, ¶¶ 2-3. Takashi and the AAB agreed on February 9, 2017, to extend the two-year time within which the AAB must hear evidence and make a final determination on the Takashi 2016 Application. Stip., p.9, ¶4; AR 470.

As of March 16, 2020, the date Takashi filed his Petition, the AAB had not heard evidence and make a final determination on the Takashi 2016 Application. Stip., p.9, ¶5. During the period between February 9, 2017 and March 16, 2020, the AAB did not order Takashi’s opinion of value, as set forth on the Takashi 2016 Application, be enrolled on any of the County’s assessment rolls for the tax year covered by the Takashi 2016 Application. Stip., p.9, ¶6.

During the period between February 9, 2017 and March 16, 2020, the AAB did not notify Takashi in writing of any decision by the AAB not to hold a hearing on the Takashi 2016 Application within the two-year period specified in section 1604(c). Stip., p.9, ¶7.

5. Toshiko Application

Toshiko filed the Toshiko 2017 Application on November 21, 2017, challenging the 2017 assessment for the Toshiko Property. Stip., p.10, ¶¶ 2-3. Toshiko and the AAB agreed on February 15, 2018 to extend the two-year time within which the AAB must hear evidence and make a final determination on the Toshiko 2017 Application, under section 1604(c). Stip., p.10, ¶4; AR 522.

As of March 16, 2020, the date Toshiko filed her Petition, the AAB did not hear evidence and make a final determination on the Toshiko 2017 Application. Stip., p.10, ¶5. During the period between February 15, 2018 and March 16, 2020, the AAB did not order Toshiko’s opinion of value as set forth on the Toshiko 2017 Application to be enrolled on any of the County’s assessment rolls for the tax year covered by the Toshiko 2017 Application. Stip., p.10, ¶6.

During the period between February 15, 2018 and March 16, 2020, the AAB did not notify Toshiko in writing of any decision by the AAB not to hold a hearing on the Toshiko 2017 Application within the two-year period specified in Section 1604(c). Stip., p.10, ¶7.

6. Mitzi Application

Mitzi filed the Mitzi 2016 Application on November 22, 2016, challenging the 2016 assessment for the Mitzi Property. Stip., p.11, ¶¶ 2-3. Mitzi and the AAB agreed on February 9, 2017 to extend the two-year time within which the AAB must hear evidence and make a final determination on the Mitzi 2016 Application, under section 1604(c). Stip., p.11, ¶4; AR 412.

As of March 12, 2020, the date Mitzi filed the Petition, the AAB did not hear evidence and make a final determination on the Mitzi 2016 Application. Stip., p.11, ¶5. During the period between February 9, 2017 and March 12, 2020, the AAB did not order Mitzi’s opinion of value, as set forth on the Mitzi 2016 Application, to be enrolled on any of the County’s assessment rolls for the tax year covered by the Mitzi 2016 Application. Stip., p.11, ¶6.

During the period between February 9, 2017 and March 12, 2020, the AAB did not notify Mitzi in writing of any decision by the AAB not to hold a hearing on the Mitzi 2016 Application within the two-year period specified in section 1604(c). Stip., p.11, ¶7.

7. Common Facts

On January 23, 2020, Petitioners Takashi, Toshiko, and Mitzi (the “Nakamura Family”), through their counsel, collectively presented to the AAB a written demand letter to enroll the respective opinions of value as set forth in each of the Nakamura Family applications. Stip., p.12. On February 4, 2020, the AAB, by letter signed by its chief deputy clerk, denied the Nakamura Family demand that the AAB enroll the respective opinions of value as set forth in each of the Nakamura Family applications. Id.

Each Extension Agreement between the respective consolidated Petitioners and the AAB was a pre-printed written AAB document that was identically, or substantially identically, worded. Stip., p.12; AR 7, 669, 107, 215, 263, 296-98, 345, 412, 522, 471. The Extension Agreements each identify on two occasions the general “two-year period” for deciding applications for changes in assessments under section 1604(c). Id.

E. Analysis

Petitioners contend that sections 1604(c), (d), and (e) impose self-executing ministerial duties on the AAB to (1) hear evidence and make a final determination on an assessment appeal application within a two-year period; (2) enroll the applicant’s value opinion on the assessment roll, cancelling any post-lien date escape assessment that may have issued; and (3) mail written notice to the applicant of those administrative actions. Pet. Op. Br. at 1-2; Reply at 3.

Petitioners argue that these mandatory duties cannot be waived and the AAB’s breach of these duties means that the AAB should be directed to enter Petitioners’ value opinions on the appropriate County assessment rolls as the annual or escape assessment consistent with the mandate of section 1604(d)(2). Pet. Op. Br. at 9.

1. Statute of Limitations

The County argues that all but one of Petitioners’ claims are time-barred. Petitioners’ legal theory is that the waivers expired as a matter of law two years from their execution and the Petitions are actions to enforce a penalty under section 1604(c), (d), and (e). Code of Civil Procedure (“CCP”) section 340(a) provides for a one year limitations period for “[a]n action upon a statute for a penalty or forfeiture, if the action is given to an individual, or to an individual and the state, except if the statute imposing it prescribes a different limitation.” CCP section 340(a)’s one-year statutory deadline to file an action was one year after completion of the two-year extension of the Extension Agreement, a total of three years after their execution. The County provides a chart showing that only one of the related cases was filed within this three-year period. Opp. at 13.

Petitioners persuasively argue that the County relies on the wrong statute of limitations. The pertinent statute of limitations is not CCP section 340(a), but CCP section 338(a), which provides:

“Within three years: (a) An action upon a liability created by statute, other than a penalty or forfeiture.”

The AAB’s alleged violation of sections 1604(c), (d), and (e) do not somehow impose a penalty or forfeiture. These are remedial, not penalty, statutes. Forfeiture is a penal concept and is typically used in a criminal context. Ojavan Investors, Inc. v. California Coastal Com., (1997) 54 Cal.App.4th 373, 392-93.

In Low v. Lan, (2002) 96 Cal.App.4th 1371, 1381, in holding that the three-year limitations period of CCP section 338(a), not the one-year limitations period of CCP section 340(a), applies to creditor preference claims for an insolvent insurance company, stated:

The one-year statute of limitations, including that contemplating ‘forfeitures,’ is directed to claims of a penal nature.....It involves situations where ‘an individual is allowed to recover against a wrongdoer, as a satisfaction for the wrong or injury suffered, and without reference to the actual damage sustained, or [where there is] . . . punishment for some act which is in the nature of a public wrong.’....[O]ur Supreme Court has held that statutory recoveries that were ‘not penal but remedial in nature’ were not within the purview of the one-year statute for penalties and forfeitures. (citation omitted) (emphasis in original).

The AAB incurs no liability from violations of sections 1604(c), (d), and (e). These provisions provide for no monetary recovery at all, let alone recovery of a civil penalty (a fine) or property forfeiture. The remedy is simply enrollment of the applicant’s opinion of value on the County’s assessment rolls. See Reply at 3. Hence, the three-year limitations period of CCP section 338(a) applies. The County makes no showing that this limitations period has passed for any Petitioner.

2. Availability of Mandamus

The County notes that California Constitution article XIII, section 32 (“art. XIII, section 32”) establishes a procedure of “pay and sue” for taxpayers to challenge their state taxes:

“No legal or equitable process shall issue in any proceeding in any court against this State or any officer thereof to prevent or enjoin the collection of any tax. After payment of the tax claimed to be illegal, an action may be maintained to recover the tax paid, with interest, in such manner as may be provided by the Legislature.”[5]

Section 4807 parallels the state prohibition for county property taxes:

“No injunction or writ of mandate or other legal or equitable process shall issue in any suit, action, or proceeding in any court against any county . . . or any officer thereof, to prevent or enjoin the collection of property taxes sought to be collected.”

The purpose of this requirement is to “allow revenue collection to continue during litigation so that essential public services dependent on the funds are not unnecessarily interrupted.” Merced Cty. Taxpayers’ Ass’n v. Cardella, (“Cardella”) (1990) 218 Cal.App. 3d 396, 400.

As a result, judicial review of decisions by a county assessment appeals board is made not by administrative mandamus, but through a tax refund suit. Little v. Los Angeles County Assessment Appeals Board, (“Little”) (2007) 155 Cal.App.4th 915, 922-23. Review not by administrative mandamus but by a tax refund suit is significantly different than other administrative decisions that are reviewed under CCP section 1094.5. Id. This mechanism is compelled by art. XIII, section 32 and the fact that a tax refund suit is an adequate remedy at law. Id.

There is a three-step process for property tax assessment and refund disputes. Steinhart v. Cty. of Los Angeles, (2010) 47 Cal.4th 1298, 1307. The first step is the filing of an application for assessment reduction under section 1603(a). Id. The second step, which occurs after payment of the tax, is the filing of an administrative refund claim under section 5097(a). Id. The third step is the filing of an action for a tax refund pursuant to section 5140. Id.

In Cardella, supra, 218 Cal.App.3d at 400-01, the petitioners alleged discrimination in the assessment of property for tax purposes, and sought mandamus commanding the county assessor to correct the assessments. Id. at 398. The court noted that section 4807 precludes mandamus or an injunction to prevent the collection of property taxes. Id. at 400. The Cardella court noted that the California Supreme Court held in Pacific Gas & Electric Co. v. State Board of Equalization, (“Pacific Gas”) (1980) 27 Cal.3d 277, 280, that a mandamus and declaratory relief action to compel an adjustment to the assessment of real property was barred by art. XIII, section 32 because “the assessment of real property is an integral part of the taxing process, and a court order invalidating an assessment will in effect ‘prevent or enjoin the collection’ of the tax.” Id. at 400. The Cardella court held that Pacific Gas compelled a conclusion that a court does not have the authority to compel a reassessment because it could impede future tax collection. Id. at 401. Despite a disclaimer by the petitioners that they were not seeking a refund, the petitioners were pursuing “pre-payment relief” and their claim was barred. Ibid.

In Schoenberg, supra, 179 Cal.App.4th at 1355, the court explained that mandamus is available only when there is no adequate remedy at law and the taxpayer had a remedy at law in the form of a tax refund action. As a result, “[m]andate is simply not available as a device for judicial review of an appeals board’s assessment decision on the merits (as distinguished from, for example, review of its ministerial duties or audits). Id. This is true even if the proposed mandate would be for a potential future refund. Id. See also Cty. of Sacramento v. Assessment Appeals Bd. No. 2, (1973) 32 Cal.App.3d 654, 672 (“Where the procedure for testing the validity of the assessment and the tax levied pursuant thereto is applicable, through a payment under protest and suit for refund, there is no right to employ administrative mandamus, under Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5.”); Little, supra, 155 Cal.App.4th at 925 (where assessment board has made an adverse decision to a petitioner, mandamus does not lie to compel an assessor to correct a property’s base year value for future years).

There is an exception to the refund action rule for mandamus to compel a county assessment appeals board to comply with its ministerial duty of holding a hearing. Sunrise Retirement Villa v. Dear, (“Sunrise”) (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 915, 951-53. In Sunrise, the plaintiffs sought mandamus contending that the assessment appeals board erred in refusing on statute of limitations grounds to hear their appeal to correct the assessor’s legal error -- not based on a value judgment under section 51.5. Id. at 953. The Sunrise court held that the board erred in not holding a hearing, and mandamus would do nothing except order the board to hold a hearing to perform its duty, which would not restrain the assessor from collecting taxes. Id. at 961. Where the board does hold a hearing, Sunrise is not authority that the board’s adverse decision is reviewable by traditional mandamus. Little, supra, 155 Cal.App.4th at 925.

Petitioners argue that FlightSafety Int’l Inc. v. Assessment Appeals Bd., (2003) 105 Cal.App.4th 620 (“FlightSafety”) authorizes mandamus in this case. In Flightsafety, the taxpayer alleged that it had not been granted a timely hearing and petitioned for mandamus to compel the enrollment of its opinion of value for the subsequent tax years. The AAB had entered the taxpayer’s opinion of value for one year (1992) pursuant to section 1604(c), but it had failed to do so for the subsequent years (1992-98) before the Board’s 1998 final determination on the taxpayer’s application for reduction in assessment. Id. at 622. In response to the AAB’s argument that the taxpayer failed to exhaust his administrative remedies by raising the issue at the 1998 hearing, the FlightSafety court stated that the taxpayer was requesting mandamus to compel fulfillment of the Board’s ministerial duty that did not arise until the AAB made its final determination. Id. at 628. This duty was self-executing and required no further action by the taxpayer. Id. The County argued that the taxpayer had to comply with tax refund procedures, but the court stated that the only issue was the AAB’s duty under section 1604(d) to enter the taxpayer’s opinion of value on the assessment rolls and any refund and interest issue would have to be taken up in a refund action. Id. at 629. Opp. at 11.

The County responds that FlightSafety did not address whether a taxpayer’s refund action would be an adequate legal remedy, which is the issue in this case. An appellate decision is not authority for propositions not considered. Kinsman v. Unocal Corp., (2005) 37 Cal. 4th 659, 680. Additionally, FlightSafety dealt with the AAB’s ministerial duty arising after it had made a final determination on an application for reduction of an assessment. This case concerns whether there is an unwritten two-year limitation on time extensions under section 1604(c). There can be no ministerial duty until it is decided that the extensions were subject to a time limitation. Due to the availability of an adequate legal remedy in a tax refund action, mandamus is not available. Opp. at 11-12.

The County argues that Petitioners’ contention -- that the AAB had a ministerial duty to enter their opinions of value within two years after Petitioners executed their Extension Agreements and provide notice under section 1604(e) -- turns on the false premise that the term of a time extension agreement cannot exceed two years. Petitioners are not asking for a public official to perform an act required by some legal duty; they are asking that the court decide that the waivers contain an unwritten provision setting a two-year limit on any extension of time under section 1604(c). The County argues that there is no such time limitation under section 1604(c). Opp. at 12.

The County’s argument begs the question. The County argues that Petitioners wrongly interpret section 1604(c) and, as a result, there is no ministerial duty that would support mandamus. However, Petitioners argue that the AAB’s mandatory duty under section 1604(c) is “self-executing” as stated in FlightSafety, supra, 105 Cal.App.4th at 628. Petitioners argue that, as in FlightSafety, no further action was required of them to ensure the AAB’s compliance. Once the AAB breached its ministerial duties under section 1604(c), (d), and (e), Petitioners were free bring mandamus claims to compel compliance with the statute. Pet. Op. Br. at 8.

Petitioners note that section 4807 bars mandate “to prevent or enjoin the collection of property taxes sought to be collected.” Petitioners already paid all taxes assessed and levied by the County. Moreover, unlike the plaintiffs and respondents in Cardella, supra, 218 Cal.App.3d at 398, Petitioners do not seek to disclaim some future right to a property tax refund. Thus, Petitioners do not run afoul of section 4807’s prohibitions. Reply at 7-8. The County cannot escape the fact that the AAB made no final determination on any of Petitioners’ Applications and mandamus is available under FlightSafety and Schoenberg. Reply at 8.

If Petitioners were correct, the need for court interpretation of section 1604(c) does not affect a conclusion that the AAB’s duty to correct the assessed property values. The AAB would have a ministerial duty based on the proper statutory interpretation.

Nonetheless, Petitioners do not come within the Sunrise and FlightSafety exceptions because they have an adequate remedy at law of an AAB hearing and subsequent refund action. Based on the terms of the Extension Agreements, the AAB is willing to provide a hearing. This conclusion is reinforced by FlightSafety’s AAB hearing. The AAB has held a hearing for only one Petitioner, FlightSafety, which made a section 1604(c) claim denied by the AAB denied. See Stip. p. 4, ¶¶ 5-6. None of the other Petitioners has even had an AAB hearing. Those other Petitioners only demanded that the AAB enroll their respective opinions of value set forth in their applications, which the AAB denied. Stip. p. 12, III. Unlike Sunrise, an AAB hearing is available to Petitioners. Where the board holds (or can hold) a hearing, Sunrise is not authority that the board’s adverse decision is reviewable by traditional mandamus. See Little, supra, 155 Cal.App.4th at 925. And unlike FlightSafety, Petitioners do not seek to correct an AAB error after a hearing has occurred.

Petitioners seek mandamus to compel the AAB to enroll their opinion of value under section 1604(c), but there is no reason why they should not have to comply with section 4807 by going through the AAB’s administrative hearing process and then filing a tax refund suit if they lose. (FlightSafety, which has had an AAB hearing, may simply file a refund action.) Mandamus will not lie to compel the AAB to perform a ministerial duty of enrolling Petitioners’ value opinion under section 1604(c) because Petitioners have an adequate remedy at law of an AAB hearing and tax refund suit. The Petitions must be denied for this reason.

3. Principles of Statutory Interpretation

Assuming arguendo that the court’s ruling on the availability of mandamus is wrong, the court will address the merits, which concerns the proper interpretation of section 1604. In construing a legislative enactment, the court must ascertain the intent of the legislative body to effectuate the purpose of the law. Brown v. Kelly Broadcasting Co., (“Brown”) (1989) 48 Cal.3d 711, 724; Orange County Employees Assn. v. County of Orange, (“Orange County”) (1991) 234 Cal.App.3d 833, 841. The court first looks to the language of the statute, attempting to give effect to the usual, ordinary import of the language and seeking to avoid making any language mere surplusage. Brown, supra, 48 Cal 3d at 724. Significance, if possible, is attributed to every word, phrase, sentence and part of an act in pursuance of the legislative purpose. Orange County, supra, 234 Cal.App.3d at 841. The various parts of a statute must be harmonized by considering each particular clause or section in the context of the statutory framework as a whole. Lungren v. Deukmejian, (1988) 45 Cal.3d 727, 735. The enactment must be given a reasonable and commonsense interpretation consistent with the apparent purpose and intent of the lawmakers, practical rather than technical in nature, and which, when applied, will result in wise policy rather than mischief or absurdity. To that end, the court must consider, in addition to the particular language at issue and its context, the object sought to be accomplished by the statute, the evils to be remedied, and public policy. Lungren v. Deukmejian, supra, 45 Cal. 3d at 735.

Unless there is ambiguity in a statute, the plain meaning of a statute controls its interpretation. Poole v. Orange County Fire Authority, (2015) 61 Cal. 4th 1378, 1385; River Garden Retirement Home v. Franchise Tax Bd., (2010) 186 Cal. App. 4th 922, 942. An agency's interpretation of an unambiguous statute is entitled to no deference. Bonnell v. Medical Board, (2003) 31 Cal. 4th 1255, 1265. If the statute is ambiguous, the court must decide whether the agency’s interpretation is based on a permissible construction of the statute. RCJ Med. Services, Inc. v. Bonta, (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 986, 1005. The agency's "construction ... is entitled to consideration and respect, [but] it is not binding and it is ultimately for the judiciary to interpret[.]" Murphy v. Kenneth Cole Prods., Inc., (2007) 40 Cal. 4th 1094, 1105, n.7. The agency’s interpretation is entitled to consideration if it is reasonable. Ontario Community Foundations, Inc. v. State Bd. of Equalization, (1984) 35 Cal.3d 811, 816. “If the agency’s reading fills a gap or defines a term in a reasonable way in light of the Legislature’s design, we give that reading controlling weight, even if it is not the answer ‘the court would have reached if the question initially had arisen in a judicial proceeding.’” Cotton v. StarCare Med. Group, Inc., (2010) 183 Cal.App.4th 453-54.

4. The Proper Interpretation of Section 1604(c)

Section 1604(c) provides in pertinent part:

“If the county board fails to hear evidence and fails to make a final determination on the application for reduction in assessment of property within two years of the timely filing of the application, the applicant's opinion of value as reflected on the application for reduction in assessment shall be the value upon which taxes are to be levied for the tax year or tax years covered by the application, unless either of the following occurs: (1) The applicant and the county board mutually agree in writing, or on the record, to an extension of time for the hearing....”

Petitioners contend that section 1604(c) does not permit a party to waive the AAB’s duty to hear an application to reduce a property assessment. Yet, the AAB’s pre-printed Extension Agreement form[6] is titled “Waiver and Agreement for Postponement of Hearing on Assessment Appeals Application.” Petitioners argue that nothing in section 1604(c) permits a waiver of the AAB’s self-executing ministerial duty to hear evidence and make a determination. Pet. Op. Br. at 2-3.

Petitioners note the purpose of section 1604(c) as reflected in its legislative history and the circumstances of its enactment. See DynaMed, Inc. v. Fair Employment & Housing Com. (1987) 43 Cal.3d 1379, 1387. Section 1604(c) was first enacted in 1982. Stats. 1982, ch. 7, ;3, p. 7; Pet. RJN Ex. 3, p. 13. Introduced in March 1981 as Assembly Bill No. 1603 (“AB 1603”), the earliest version of AB 1603 proposed a one-year deadline within which a county assessment appeals board must hear evidence and make a final determination on an assessment appeal application. Ex. 3, pp. 1, 4. By May 1981, the Assembly amended AB 1603 to extend the board’s deadline to two years. Ex. 3, pp. 5, 6, 8. An April 29, 1981 analysis report of the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee declared AB 1603’s purpose of preventing “appeals from being tied up for extended periods without a hearing.” Ex. 3, p. 20. A Senate Democratic Caucus analysis report for AB 1603’s third reading states: “[P]roponents also state that because some assessment appeal hearings have gone on as long as 5 years, it is necessary to specify a deadline for the hearing of such appeals.” Ex. 3, p. 26. Pet. Op. Br. at 4.[7]

Petitioners also rely on Shell Western E & P, Inc. v. County of Lake, (“Shell Western”) (1990) 224 Cal.App.3d 974, in which a property owner (Shell) argued that its assessment numbers had to be accepted due to the county board of equalization’s failure to hold a hearing within the two-year period of section 1604. Id. at 977. Although Shell’s attorney executed a stipulation extending the hearing on its applications for reduction of assessment, he did so only on behalf of another party. Id. at 981-82. As a result, there was no section 1604(c) extension for Shell and Shell’s valuation was properly enforced. Id. at 983. The court noted that the county board of equalization’s duty under section 1604(c) is mandatory, not directory, particularly since all proceedings in the assessment, levying, and collection of taxes are in invitum (against an unwilling party) and are strictly construed in favor of the taxpayer. Id. at 983-84.

The court explained the purpose of section 1604 (c) is:

“[T]o expedite processing of assessment reduction applications so that those who seek reductions in the amount of taxes already paid are not cast into a bureaucratic limbo where there is no light at the end of the administrative tunnel....“[T]he unambiguous emphasis of section 1604(c) is to ease the burden to the taxpayer caused by administrative delay extending beyond the period established by the Legislature. The premise of the statute is that delay disadvantages taxpayers who are denied prompt return of taxes they have already paid, but works to the distinct advantage of taxing authorities who can forestall having to return the taxes they have already collected. Section 1604(c) is thus clearly enacted for the benefit of the taxpayer [Citation], not the tax collector. To facilitate this goal, the statute specifies a time period for action, and grants the remedy to the taxpayer whose application is delayed beyond the time deemed reasonable by the Legislature. It should be apparent that in enacting section 1604(c) the Legislature gave real teeth to its deadline for administrative action. All of the accepted indicia point to the conclusion that section 1604(c) establishes a mandatory duty, not a procedural nicety that a county board of equalization may disregard without consequence.” Id. at 984-85 (emphasis added).

Petitioners conclude that the circumstances of section 1604(c)’s enactment and its purpose as explained in Shell Western demonstrate that the statute’s “public rationale” is to protect the taxpaying public and deter local assessment appeals boards from engaging in bureaucratic delay by requiring the equalization process be completed in a reasonable timeframe, defined as two years. Pet. Op. Br. at 5-6.

So far, so good. The court agrees – and the County does not dispute – that section 1604(c)’s purpose is to protect property owner taxpayers by requiring that the administrative hearing on assessment occur within a reasonable time, defined as two years without an extension, and that the statute gives the mandatory deadline “real teeth” if the county board of equalization fails to do so.

The AAB’s pre-printed form Extension Agreement purports to waive the property owner’s right to have the application heard and decided by the AAB within a two-year period. Pet. RJN Tab 2. Petitioners argue that section 1604(c) cannot be waived. Petitioners note a fundamental maxim of California jurisprudence provides: “Any one may waive the advantage of a law intended solely for his benefit.  But a law established for a public reason cannot be contravened by a private agreement.”  Civil Code ;3513 (emphasis added). “Waiver is the intentional relinquishment of a known right after knowledge of the facts.Roesch v. De Mota, (1944) 24 Cal.2d 563, 572; Ukiah v. Fones (1966) 64 Cal.2d 104, 107.

Petitioners contend that the AAB’s “unilateral imposition” of an unending waiver in the guise of a section 1604(c) mutual agreement to extend the two-year deadline is unlawful. Under section 1604(c), the AAB has a mandatory, ministerial duty. The doctrine of waiver plays no role in the construction of section 1604(c) and there is no “relinquishment of a known right.” Pet. Op. Br. at 7-8. Petitioners contend that the AAB’s self-executing, mandatory duty cannot be waived as a matter of public policy and an interminable waiver defeats the Legislature’s intent in section 1604(c). Pet. Op. Br. at 6-7.

Petitioners admit that section 1604(c) allows a mutual agreement to extend the two-year period for the AAB to hear evidence and make a final determination on an assessment appeal. Yet, the statute contemplates that the mutual agreement for extension is subject to expiration. (;1604(c)(2) (“...[a]n extension of the two-year period previously agreed to...expired.”). Petitioners argue that the outer limit of an extension agreement is two years and therefore the Extension Agreements necessarily expired by operation of law two years after their operative dates. Pet. Op. Br. at 7.

Petitioners explain that, rather than to allow an indefinite extension of the AAB’s obligatory ministerial duty, the Legislature set the outer parameter for performance of the mandatory duty at two years. An interpretation of section 1604(c) that allows unrestricted time extension contravenes, and effectively nullifies, the legislative intent. Such an everlasting time extension no longer meets the definition of “time deemed reasonable by the Legislature.” See Shell Western, supra, 224 Cal.App.3d at 985. Therefore, the Extension Agreements expired two years after their origination dates. Pet. Op. Br. at 8.

Petitioners conclude that the AAB’s failure to execute its ministerial duties under sections 1604(c), (d), and (e) was a prejudicial abuse of discretion because it was arbitrary and capricious and failed to proceed according to law. Further, the AAB acted in excess of its jurisdiction. Pet. Op. Br. at 10-12.

Petitioners wrongly mix the roles of the AAB and the parties. There is no doubt that the AAB’s duties under section 1604(c) are mandatory and ministerial. Shell Western demonstrates as much. 224 Cal.App.3d at 983-84. But the AAB’s mandatory duty is to hold a hearing and make a final determination on the application for reduction in assessment of property within two years of the timely filing of the application unless “[t]he applicant and the county board mutually agree in writing, or on the record, to an extension of time for the hearing.…” Thus, the AAB’s mandatory duty is conditioned on the lack of an extension agreement.

Section 1604(c) gives the property owner/taxpayer a right to a timely hearing. As reflected in the historical circumstances of its enactment and Shell Western, section 1604(c)’s purpose is to protect property owner taxpayers by requiring that the administrative hearing on assessment occur within a reasonable time -- defined as two years without an extension -- and to give the mandatory deadline “real teeth” if the county board of equalization fails to do so. Thus, a property owner can stand on its rights and require the county board of equalization to hold a hearing and determine the proper assessed value within two years.

The property owner can also waive this statutory right. As Petitioners note, most civil statutory rights can be waived by the party benefitted. See Civil Code ;3513. It is only the unusual right established for public purposes that is non-waivable. See id. Whether a statutory right is non-waivable depends upon an analysis of the importance of the public purpose behind the law. The courts generally find statutory rights to be non-waivable where the public policy is important and the protected party is in a weak bargaining position. See, e.g., Gentry v. Superior Court, (2007) 42 Cal.4th 443, 456 (statutory right to receive overtime pay is non-waivable by the employee and waiver of arbitration of class action overtime claims may be unconscionable).

Petitioners make no attempt to argue that their right to a hearing and determination within two years under section 1604(c) is not waivable. Instead, they argue only that the AAB has mandatory duty. But the two are not inconsistent. The AAB has a mandatory duty timely to act in Petitioners’ favor (conditioned on the lack of an extension agreement) and Petitioners have a right to waive that timely action. Petitioners can waive their statutory right to a timely hearing.[8]

Of course, section 1604(c) does not speak in terms of a waiver, a fact which Petitioners note. But this failure is not significant. A waiver is a unilateral action by a person and an agreement requires two or more parties. Section 1604(c)(1) requires a written agreement for an extension between the applicant and the county board.[9] This means that the AAB can meet its mandatory duty and hold a timely hearing over the property owner’s objection by refusing to enter into an extension agreement. As a practical matter, that is unlikely because the property owner – whose property has been assessed and will have paid the assessed tax -- will control the timing of the hearing beyond the two-year mark.

The AAB’s Extension Agreement form reflects these property owner rights. Entitled “Waiver and Agreement for Postponement of Hearing on Assessment Appeals Application”, it is executed by both the applicant or its attorney and the AAB. The Extension Agreement states that the applicant “agrees to waive my right to have the...application hear and decided by the [AAB] within a two-year period of the date of the filing....” The Agreement adds that the applicant “may terminate this waiver of the two-year period by delivering a written notice of termination” to the AAB. Upon receipt of the notice, the AAB shall hear and decide the application with the extended period, defined as any remaining time on the initial two-year period plus 120 days.[10]

There is no inconsistency between the form Extension Agreement and section 1604(c). The statute expressly permits a mutual agreement to extend the two-year limit and says nothing about how long that extension will be. The parties may agree to an open-ended extension subject to the applicant’s right to terminate and require a hearing within 120 days. In so doing, the applicant is waiving (giving up) its right to a hearing within the statutory two-year period. This is expressly permissible by the plain language of section 1604(c).[11]

Petitioners’ argument about waiver makes little sense and the County points out that Petitioners’ argument is illogical. Since section 1604(c) expressly allows the extension of the two-year periods and does not set forth a limitation on such extensions, how do Petitioners arrive at their two-year limitation on an extension? This two-year extension is not in the statute and there is no rhyme or reason provided for it. Opp. at 5.

In reply, Petitioners argue that the AAB’s pernicious policy casts them into the “bureaucratic limbo where there is no light at the end of the administrative tunnel” referred to in Shell Western, supra, 224 Cal.App.3d at 984. Reply at 4. Petitioners do not explain how. Perhaps they are referring to an AAB policy that it will only agree to a blanket extension, such as those referred to in Stocker and Helene Curtis. If so, aside from the fact that there is no evidence of an AAB blanket policy, Petitioners ignore the facts that any extension agreement under section 1604(c) must be mutual. The AAB has the right to insist on an open extension, if at all, and Petitioners have a right to refuse an open extension. Moreover, the Extension Agreement expressly provides Petitioners with the right to terminate the extension and require a hearing within 120 days. There is no bureaucratic limbo here.

The court’s interpretation of section 1604(c) also is supported by BOE Property Tax Rule 309(b) which implements section 1604:

“A hearing must be held and a final determination made on the application within two years of the timely filing of an application for reduction in assessment submitted pursuant to subdivision (a) of section 1603 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, unless the applicant or the applicant's agent and the board mutually agree in writing or on the record to an extension of time.” (emphasis added).

In evaluating the weight to give to Rule 309(b), there are two categories of administrative rules: quasi-legislative in which the agency has been delegated the Legislature’s lawmaking power and rules that interpret a statute. Yamaha Corp. of America v. State Bd. of Equalization, (1998) 19 Cal.4th 1, 10-11. Where the agency is performing an interpretative function for a statute, the courts will take ultimate responsibility for construction of the statute while according weight and respect to the agency’s interpretation. Id. at 12. The amount of weight required is situational. There are two broad relevant factors for a court’s assessment of how much weight to give the agency’s interpretation: (1) the possible interpretative advantage of the agency over the courts, and (2) the likelihood that the agency’s interpretation is correct as based on the thoroughness of its consideration, the validity of its reasoning, its consistency with earlier pronouncements. Id. at 12. Where the legal text is obscure, complex or intertwined with issues of fact and the agency has expertise and technical knowledge, a court is more likely to defer to the agency’s opinion. Ibid.

Rule 309(b) contains no reference to any time limitation on agreed extensions. While there is no evidence on how thoroughly the BOE evaluated section 1604(c) or its reasoning, there is little doubt that it has an interpretive advantage over the courts in property tax matters through its expertise. The court therefore accords substantial deference to Rule 309(b), which supports the court’s plain meaning interpretation.[12]

In sum, the plain meaning section 1604(c) requires the AAB to hold a hearing and decide an application for a reduced assessment within two years, subject to the applicant and the AAB mutually agreeing to extend the two-year limit. Section 1604(c) has no time limit on the extension to which the parties may agree. In agreeing to an extension, the applicant agrees to, and waives, its statutory right to a hearing within the two-year period even though the word “waiver” is not used in the statute.

The AAB’s form Extension Agreement gives the applicant control over the extended hearing by permitting termination upon written notice, and the AAB is then required to hold a hearing within 120 days. The Extension Agreement form is consistent with the statutory purpose of section 1604(c) to protect taxpayers by requiring the hearing within a reasonable time. The AAB has not breached its mandatory duty under section 1604(c) when it holds a hearing beyond the two-year period but within the timeframe set forth in the Extension Agreement. Nor does the AAB breach section 1604(d) and (e) under these circumstances.

F. Conclusion

The Petition is denied. Respondent County’s counsel is ordered to prepare a proposed judgment, serve it on Petitioner’s counsel for approval as to form, wait ten days after service for any objections, meet and confer if there are objections, and then submit the proposed judgment along with a declaration stating the existence/non-existence of any unresolved objections. An OSC re: judgment is set for June 10, 2021 at 9:30 a.m.


[1] All further statutory references are to the Revenue and Taxation Code unless otherwise stated.

[2] The court has not read or considered the footnotes in Respondent and Real Party’s joint opposition brief or in Petitioners’ reply brief because they do not meet the 12-point type requirement of CRC 2.104.

[3] Neither party provides a copy of Property Tax Rule 309(b).

[4] The parties note that the facts are undisputed and that they have stipulated to certain facts. Petitioners attach the stipulated facts to their opening brief (“Stipulation”). As both parties cite to both the Stipulation and the Administrative Record, the court also does so.

Petitioners request judicial notice of: (1) the applications at issue in the consolidated matter (Ex. 1); (2) the Extension Agreements at issue in the consolidated matter (Ex. 2); and (3) excerpts from the legislative history of AB 1603 (Ex. 3). The applications are not official acts and the request is denied. Evid. Code ;452(c). The applications also should have been included in the administrative record. The Extension Agreements are included in the administrative record and there is no need to judicially notice them. The request is granted as to Exhibit 3. Evid. Code ;452(c).

[5] Although they mis-cite the case (Reply at 7), Petitioners point out that art. XIII, section 32 has been held to apply only to actions against the state.” Bunker v. County of Orange, (2002) 104 Cal.App.4th 542, 544 (emphasis in original) (citing Pacific Gas & Electric v. State Board of Equalization, (“Pacific Gas”) (1980) 27 Cal.3d 277, 281, n.6.).

[6] The court has not judicially noticed the Extension Agreements, but they are part of the administrative record. See Pet. RJN Tab 2.

[7] Petitioners point out that AB 1603 consistently used the word “waived” in a section addressing delinquent tax payment penalties under section 2610.5 (Ex. 3, pp. 2, 4, 6, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14), but never mentioned the words “waive” or “waiver” in the provisions that became 1604. Petitioners argue that these in pari materia (on the same subject) enactments illustrate the principal of statutory construction that the “Legislature chose its words carefully[.]” See Ornelas v. Randolph, (1993) 4 Cal.4th 1095, 1108. Pet. Op. Br. at 5.

[8] The County relies on various principles of construction, including (a) the Legislature’s imposed time limits in other tax statutes, and specific limits on extensions of section 1604(c)’s time limits (;;408(f)(3), 441(h)), and this use of a different word or phrase in one part of a statute than another on a related subject must be presumed to intend a different meaning.  Campbell v. Zolin, (1995) 33 Cal.App.4th 489, 497, (b) “[w]here a statute statute Id. at 497, (c) the statutory interpretation principle expressio unius est exclusio alterius (the statement of one thing implies the exclusion of the other) establishes that there cannot be a two-year time limit on the waivers. Jennings v. Rodriguez (2018) 138 S. Ct. 830, 844; Opp. at 3-5. Cf. Reply at 6. The court need not resort to rules on construction because section 1604 has a plain meaning.

The County also purports to rely on Rules 323(c), 309(e), and 325(a)(3) as prescribing time limits and permitting extension of deadlines. Opp. at 7. None of these rules has been provided to the court and, unlike Rule 309(b), none directly applies to the issue. According to the parties, Rule 323(c) apparently supports the County’s position (compare Opp. at 7 and 8-9), but it unnecessary for the court’s decision.

[9] Under section 1604(c), the assessor has no right to object to a continued hearing.

[10] Petitioners note that ambiguous contracts must be construed against the drafter. See Badie v. Bank of America, (1998) 67 Cal.App.4th 779, 801. They contend that the Extension Agreement contains ambiguous terms or phrases of “waiver,” “waive my right,” and “waiver of the two-year period.” Petitioners add that the fact that the parties dispute the meaning of the Extension Agreement renders the contract inherently ambiguous. See Beneficial Fire & Casualty Ins. Co. v. Kurt Hitke & Co., Inc., (1956) 46 Cal.2d 517, 524.) Reply at 4-5. This is a strawman argument because there is no ambiguity in the Extension Agreement. Petitioners acknowledge as much when they contend that they cannot waive the AAB’s duties under section 1604(c).

[11] The County notes that case law concerning section 1604(c) time extensions refers to them as “waivers.” See Helene Curtis, Inc. v. Los Angeles Cty. Assessment Appeals Bds., (“Helene Curtis”) (2004) 121 Cal.App. 4th 29, 41 (taxpayer estopped from claiming the benefits of section 1604(c) because it misled the board into believing waiver had been signed); Stocker Res., Inc. v. Assessment Appeals Bd., (“Stocker”) (1996) 49 Cal.App. 4th 391, 394, 399 (taxpayer estopped from claiming benefits of section 1604(c) because attorney modified blanket waiver to limit it). Opp. at 6. Petitioners correctly reply that neither Helene Curtis nor Stocker decided whether section 1604(c) authorizes waiver of the AAB’s duty and “[c]ases are not authority for propositions not considered.” Pickett v. Superior Court (99¢ Only Stores, (2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 887, 896. Reply at 5-6.

[12] The County argues that Petitioners also requested continuances of their hearings and failing to appear. Opp. at 15. Petitioners deny fault and argue that this does not undermine the AAB’s mandatory duty. Reply at 10. This issue is immaterial to the proper interpretation of section 1604(c).


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