Reneging on refunds

Another deadline looms for Greater Golden Hill residents to receive refunds

The clock is ticking for the residents of Golden Hill and South Park to receive refunds for the illegally-formed maintenance assessment district. If residents don't file refund forms with the City by December 10, then the four-year statute of limitations that the City has imposed will run out and residents will forfeit the money they paid for the December 2008 property bill.

On April 9, 2012, the San Diego City Council dissolved the Greater Golden Hill Maintenance Assessment District once and for all.

The announcement was made just one day before the expiration of the four-year statute of limitations by the City.

Many residents were unaware of the deadline to file. And why wouldn't they be when representatives from the City Attorney's office had been telling them the assessments were not subject to the deadline?

"In case you haven't yet realized it, a special assessment IS NOT A TAX and is not subject to a four year statute of limitations for refunds..." wrote San Diego City Attorney Carmen Brock to a lawyer for the residents on January 25, 2012.

"It would be nice if you figured out what area of law applies before you accuse the City of wrongly performing its duties to its citizens. The accusations are offensive to all of us who work hard on behalf of the citizens."

Just four months later, on May 10, councilmember Todd Gloria, gave residents another story.

"Please allow 4-6 weeks for the Economic Development Department to process and investigate your claim. City staff will accept your Claim Form up to four years from your last posted payment. (If you paid your last assessment fee in December 2010, you have until December 2014 to file your form.)

"Thank you for your patience throughout this process. I am hopeful that with the conclusion of these events, we will have a stronger, more unified neighborhood."

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Comments

Truth and politics. Nobody is even shocked or cares. Which is worse?

With the coming change in leadership at city hall I fear that this type of abuse will only increase. As far as the lies are concerned Todd Gloria is the Queen of lies!

I think there is no either/or regarding ethical behavior and the law. When in law school, did Ms. Carmen Brock skip the course on law and ethics? A refresher course on ethical values, on wrong and right is a sine qua non for a person who is presently San Diego City Attorney. Furthermore, it's humiliating to be treated as you have treated us, the residents of Golden Hill and South Park. Regarding Mr. Todd Gloria, well, what's new, no? Remember whom to vote next election. And, Mr. Hardgrove, thank you for keeping us, the "duped" public, informed, even when there is nothing we can do about it.

WatchDog

I am a resident of South Park and one of those brave and idealist people who joined like minded others and sued the city over the MAD Assessment and won. That is some consolation but unfortunately we will always need watch dogs to protect us from the thieves, liars and juveniles that oversee our city government. What goes around comes around Todd Gloria and the rest who connived and bullied South Park and Golden Hills residents.

After much work on my part, I submitted the refund request and got a partial refund. Getting the paperwork together and submitting it was such a hassle, it was obvious that as many impediments as possible were being put in the way of getting a full refund. It shouldn't have been so difficult. The illegal charge was itemized on each property tax bill. The assessor has computer records. In a grown-up world, the assessor's office should have been able to extract a list of people who were due refunds and automatically sent out checks or credits much in the same way it sends out bills. I too am disappointed by Todd Gloria's lack of leadership on behalf of his constituents. It seems like the residents of his district are "small time" when compared to the business interests and the city bigwigs he associates with. I expected more when we elected him.

I am 85 years old, a retired Orthopedic surgeon. I went to St. louis University, a Jesuit Catholic university and I am not a Catholic. I graduated #1 in my class of 42 students. I am very alert. In my day, crooked politicians were part of "machines". Example and the worse was the Daley machine in Illinois. The Boss Hague machine in New Jersey. The Pendergast machine in Missouri. Well, it looks like they no longer refer to themselves as machines, but these politicians are still crooks. If an individual did what they did to us in the MADD, they woud be heavily fined and put in Jail. (good idea). Then they would think twice about swindeling the taxpayers. I got nothing for what they charged me, like the other people who lived in the Golden Hills. Now they are making it difficult for us to get restitution. The courts have ruled that what they did was illegal. Give us back our money,

It seems to me that all of these machinations are the work of City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who said from the beginning that his job was to represent city officials, not the citizens. Therefore he puts up as many roadblocks as he can and ignores his own deputy's statement that the refunds are not subject to a statute of limitations. Typically short sighted of him, of course, because it only adds to people's distrust of city government and an unwillingness to pay more taxes even on worthy projects. But it probably gets him the applause of the City Council, which is all he really wants.

This has been such an embittering experience - being lied to and stolen from by the fine City of San Diego. The only upside is how our neighbors tried to help each other through this and finding a champion in Dorian Hargrove. Many thanks to Mr. Hargrove and neighbors; and bah, humbug to our city leaders!

Truth does not shine through in America's Finest City. It is corrupt politics as usual. I was fortunate to have some help in filling out forms for the refund, and yes, it was only a partial refund. Thanks to all those who persisted in eradicting this illegal tax, and thanks to Dorian for reporting on this issue.

GOLDEN HILL, SOUTH PARK, SAN DIEGO, AND CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS BEWARE! A NEW WAVE OF MAD-LIKE TAXES IS EMERGING ALL OVER THIS STATE!!

As a Golden Hill property owner and Los Angeles resident, I'm now seeing a pattern of confiscation emerging in this money-grabbing, union-pandering, and downright crooked state.  After fighting the GGH MAD for years, jumping through endless hoops to get the illegally taken money back, and only receiving a portion of it due to the City's manipulation of the legal system, I've just received, in Los Angeles, a notice from the County proposing a "Clean Water, Clean Beaches" measure, which looks, smells, and quacks like the dirty MAD duck that it is.

It is starting in the very same way that the GGH MAD did, with a notice to property owners in the coastal areas, announcing a public hearing to consider "an annual clean water fee which would be collected with the property taxes."  They even provide the specific amount of tax that each property - by address - would be liable for.  The notice spells out "The Problem" as polluted storm water containing industrial pollutants, bacteria, viruses, pesticides, fertilizers, and trash (they throw in syringes, for added scare factor) making its way into "rivers, creeks, lakes, the bay, and coastal waters."  "The solution," they claim, is an added tax on each coastal property owner for catch basin screens to reduce trash and other harmful substances caught in urban runoff, street sweeping to keep trash out of storm drains, diversion of storm water before it can pollute waterways, and programs to educate children and adults about keeping trash and other pollutants out of streets and storm drains.  Just like the GGH MAD, all of these things are already supposed to be being provided by the property taxes that we pay.

Note that the notice further says, while "the clean water fee would provide dedicated funding for local and regional projects to help keep pollution out of storm water and runoff," it adds that "the fee could also be combined with other funding such as state and federal grants for multibenefit projects that improve water quality and provide other public benefits as well."  As an example, they list "increase local drinking water supplies; provide and irrigate recreational areas such as parks, ball fields, and schools; protect open space and natural areas; create, restore, and improve wetlands and habitat; and protect public health and safety."  There's something there for everyone's pet cause, and the last one they threw in as a scare tactic for anyone who wasn't already convinced.

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It all sounds great - just like the GGH MAD did initially - but it's designed to extract money a second time for things that we're already paying for in our property taxes. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association - originator and champion defender of Proposition 13 - has long been drawing attention to and fighting the "fire" tax that California has been trying to impose specifically on rural homeowners for providing fire service in their high-risk areas - again, a service that they already pay for in their property taxes HJTA Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Fire Tax.

Hopefully, people will start to recognize the growing trend in California of introducing endless new taxation schemes for extorting "money for old rope" from sucker California property owners.  They're coming up with new and creative ways to dress these taxes up in the finery of worthy causes, but they're all designed to take money from California taxpayers twice for the same services.  Why not impose a new tax specifically for, say, policing, charged to homeowners in high crime areas; or a new tax specifically for freeway maintenance, charged to homeowners in densely populated areas with numerous freeways (like San Diego); or a new tax specifically for homeless sheltering, charged to homeowners living in downtown city centers where homeless people tend to congregate?  They're all good causes, but we all pay for those services already in our property taxes.  It's selective taxation - and dual taxation in its most brazen form!

If you want a valuable, yet inexpensive, gift idea for your friends and family in California, you couldn't do better than giving them a $15 annual membership to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association http://www.hjta.org.  Their informative, pithy, e-mail notifications are a quick, easy read, and will keep you well aware of all the dirty tricks that the money-hungry state of California is subjecting us to without our knowledge.  Fore-warned is fore-armed, and HJTA is the best defense that we Californians have against the state's insatiable appetite for our hard-earned money.  I'm giving memberships to everyone I know this Christmas!

I appreciate Mr. Hargrove's continued efforts to shed light on our dysfunctional City government. The GGH-MAD was illegal from the get-go making all assessments collected illegal; the courts found the MAD to be illegal twice. We taxpayers deserve our TOTAL assessment refunded; it was the City that did NOT inform its citizen taxpayers of the availability of the refund until the "supposed" limitation date for filing had passed. The City's behavior is shameful. No wonder people don't have faith in their elected leaders. Thank you Mr. Hargrove for keeping us aware.

I have lived in. "South Park" for 56 years. I live on the same street on which I was born. I'm a native San Diegan, the son of a native, and grandson of an native, I have seen our city devolve into something that would be unrecognizable to our forebearers. Outside interests and outside money have come into the city and taken over its entire leadership. GHMAD is just another example of how Government comes into our homes, makes unilateral decisions, based on special intertests, for the enrichment of a few, at the expense of the many, and touts it as good for us all. What a screw job! These people don't really consider this place their home, they just want to get what they can get and get out. I'm sick of the lies and subterfuge, and I really don't understand the apathy. Why a statute of limitations? Why a form to fill out? The City knows what was paid and what is owed. Pay back our money. Do the right thing! It's not that hard, if you really want to.

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