California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, First Division
from a judgment of the Superior Court of San Diego County No.
37-2015-00016536- CU-MC-CTL, Joan M. Lewis, Judge. Reversed.
Law Corporation and Cory J. Briggs; Higgs Fletcher & Mack
and Rachel E. Moffitt, for Plaintiff and Appellant.
W. Elliott, San Diego City Attorney, David J. Karlin,
Assistant City Attorney and Meghan Ashley Wharton, Deputy
City Attorney, for Defendants and Respondents.
Acting P. J.
issue here is a municipal ordinance, which authorized the
issuance of bonds to be used to refinance the defendants'
obligations with respect to construction of a baseball park.
We find plaintiff taxpayers have standing under Government
Code section 1092 to challenge the
ordinance on the grounds participants in the proposed
transaction violated the conflict of interest provisions of
section 1090. Accordingly, we must reverse the trial
court's judgment dismissing plaintiff's complaint,
which judgment was entered on the grounds plaintiffs do not
have standing to challenge the ordinance.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
March 17, 2015, respondents City of San Diego (the city) and
Public Facilities Financing Authority (PFFA) adopted San
Diego Ordinance No. 0-20469 and PFFA Resolution No.
FA-2015-2, which authorized issuance of 2015 Refunding Bonds
(2015 Bonds). The 2015 Bonds, if issued, will refund and
refinance the remaining amount owed by the city on bonds
issued in 2007 with respect to construction of the baseball
stadium at Petco Park.
18, 2015, San Diegans For Open Government (SDFOG) filed a
complaint that challenged the validity of the 2015 Bonds.
SDFOG alleged that it is a nonprofit taxpayer organization
and that at least one of its members is a resident of the
city. SDFOG alleged, among other claims, that one or more
members of the financing team that participated in
preparation of the 2015 Bonds had a financial interest in the
sale of the bonds and the existence of that interest in turn
gave rise to a violation of section 1090. SDFOG sought, among
other remedies, declaratory relief.
to trial on the merits, SDFOG dismissed all of its
substantive claims, other than its allegation the city had
violated section 1090. Before commencing trial on the merits
of SDFOG's section 1090 claim, the trial court asked for
and received briefing from the parties with respect to
SDFOG's standing. After considering the parties'
briefing and the argument of counsel, the trial court
determined, as a matter of law, that because SDFOG was not a
party to the bond transaction, it lacked standing to pursue a
section 1090 challenge. The trial court dismissed SDFOG's
complaint, and judgment was entered in the city's favor.
SDFOG filed a timely notice of appeal.
as here, there is no dispute as to the material facts and the
appellant only challenges a trial court's interpretation
of law, we review the trial court's ruling de novo. (See
Ghirardo v. Antonio (1994) 8 Cal.4th 791, 799.)
1090, subdivision (a) states: "Members of the
Legislature, state, county, district, judicial district, and
city officers or employees shall not be financially
interested in any contract made by them in their official
capacity, or by any body or board of which they are members.
Nor shall state, county, district, judicial district, and
city officers or employees be ...