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California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland

Filed 8/28/17 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA CALIFORNIA CANNABIS COALITION ) et al., ) ) Plaintiffs and Appellants, ) ) S234148 v. ) ) Ct.App. 4/2 E063664 CITY OF UPLAND et al., ) ) San Bernardino County Defendants and Respondents. ) Super. Ct. No. CIVDS1503985 ____________________________________) Here we consider the interplay of two constitutional provisions. First, sections 8 and 11 of article II of the state Constitution contain the people’s initiative power, which we have described as “ ‘one of the most precious rights of our democratic process.’ ” (Associated Home Builders etc., Inc. v. City of Livermore (1976) 18 Cal.3d 582, 591 (Associated Home Builders); Cal. Const., art. II (article II), §§ 8 [statewide power], 11 [local power].) Second, article XIII C — added by one of several successful initiative constitutional amendments concerning taxation — limits the ability of “local governments . . . to impose, extend, or increase any general tax.” (Cal. Const., art. XIII C (article XIII C), added by initiative, Gen. Elec. (Nov. 5, 1996), commonly known as Prop. 218; Greene v. Marin County Flood Control & Water Conservation Dist. (2010) 49 Cal.4th 277, 284-285 (Greene) [summarizing the purpose of Prop. 218].) SEE CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION. The question before us is whether article XIII C also restricts the ability of voters to impose taxes via initiative. The Court of Appeal here concluded that article XIII C does not constrain voters’ constitutional power to propose and adopt initiatives, and that under article II, section 11 and Elections Code section 9214,1 the initiative at issue should be submitted to the voters at a special election, not at a general election, as article XIII C would require. In light of the text and other indicia of the purpose associated with the relevant constitutional and statutory provisions, we agree with the Court of Appeal that article XIII C does not limit voters’ “power to raise taxes by statutory initiative.” (Kennedy Wholesale, Inc. v. State Bd. of Equalization (1991) 53 Cal.3d 245, 251 [reaching the same conclusion with regard to article XIII A of the state Constitution] (Kennedy Wholesale).) A contrary conclusion would require an unreasonably broad construction of the term “local government” at the expense of the people’s constitutional right to direct democracy, undermining our longstanding and consistent view that courts should protect and liberally construe it. (E.g., Associated Home Builders, supra, 18 Cal.3d at p. 591.) As Ulysses once tied himself to the mast so he could resist the Sirens’ tempting song (Homer, The Odyssey, Book XII), voters too can conceivably make the clear and important choice to bind themselves by making it more difficult to enact initiatives in the future. The electorate made no such clear choice to tie itself to the mast here. Without a direct reference in the text of a provision — or a similarly clear, unambiguous indication that it was within the ambit of a provision’s purpose to constrain the people’s initiative power –– we will not construe a provision as imposing …
Original document
Source: California Supreme Court