County Special Assessment Districts
TYPES OF SPECIAL ASSESSMENT DISTRICTS
PERMANENT ROAD DIVISION: Enable property owners to improve and maintain roads in their area if certain criteria are met. District formations typically take from 12 to 18 months and are a multi-step process stipulated by State law. At least one road in the proposed district must connect with a publicly maintained road. Costs are shared by the property owners according to the amount of benefit their parcel receives from the improvement or service. Loans may be available to finance road projects. Majority support of property owners is required.
COUNTY SERVICE AREAS: Pursued by area property owners for non-road related infrastructure and to maintain parks, and pay for fire prevention and emergency medical services. District formations typically take two to three years and include Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) review and approval. Majority support of property owners is required. Limited loans may be available to finance projects.
STREET LIGHTING DISTRICT: This District provides funding for the installation, operation and maintenance of street lighting facilities. This countywide district was formed under the Landscape and Lighting Act of 1972 (Streets and Highways Code, Section 22500, et seq.). The unincorporated area is divided into two zones: Zone A is anywhere property owners are assessed by the District. Zone B is made up of areas where properties are not assessed. These properties either have not yet been developed or were already developed before lights were required. By following annexation procedures, it is possible for areas in Zone B to be transferred to Zone A.
STORMWATER MAINTENANCE ZONES: These zones provide long-term financing for maintenance of Category 3 stormwater facilities which offer substantial water quality protection. Having the San Diego County Flood Control District assume maintenance responsibility for these kinds of facilities serves the public’s best interest.
LANDSCAPE MAINTENANCE DISTRICT: Zones within this district are formed under the authority of the Landscape and Lighting Act of 1972. LMD zones provide long-term funding for maintenance of public facilities including, median or parkway landscaping, parks, trails and open space. These zones provide for maintenance of already constructed facilities which are declared public and must meet County specified standards before being accepted.
OTHER ASSESSMENT DISTRICTS: Assessment districts can be formed to fund improvements and maintenance for various kinds of public infrastructure. State laws enable the formation of districts for road improvements, parks, open space, street lighting and various other municipal services or improvements. Before districts can be formed, Counties must identify which specific legislation (state laws) authorizes the intended formation. The formation of all districts must comply with Proposition 218 (1996), also known as the “Right to Vote on Taxes Act”, which amended the California Constitution.
Districts are usually formed by property owners wishing to finance costly infrastructure. The average time to form a district is about two years and it is generally a costly process. Extremely large, complex or controversial districts can take longer to form.