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Residents in Golden Hill and South Park are finally receiving refund checks for assessments they paid to what was ruled an illegal maintenance assessment district. There is one problem; the checks do not include the first year's (2007-2008) assessments. The reason, says the City Attorney's Office, is a four-year statute of limitations.

Just bad timing, well, not exactly. The four-year deadline ran out before the City had even posted the forms needed for refunds. According to one resident, those forms were not made available until May 8, three months after Superior Court Judge Richard Whitney released his final decision.

It wouldn't have mattered all that much even if the forms were available. Residents would have needed to submit claims for the first installment of annual property taxes by December 2011, months before Judge Whitney had issued his final decision on February 8.

As for the deadline for second installment, that date was April 2012. Unfortunately for residents who fought so long and hard to prove the district was ill-conceived, the City Attorney was in no rush to respond to the judge's ruling. In a March 20 email, a spokesperson for the City Attorney said the office had not opined on the decision. Council later accepted the ruling at a April 8 council meeting.

I am waiting to hear from the City Attorney's Office on the statute and whether pending litigation extends that statute.

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Comments

nostalgic July 30, 2012 @ 3:58 p.m.

The City delayed so that they could invoke the Statute of Limitations to avoid payment, even when they said it wasn't applicable. This is how the City treats its citizens--the people who PAY all of those other taxes, in addition to special assessments. It is fun for them, because it is a game they can always win. For the short term. Had they obeyed state law to begin with, none of this would have happened.

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dagobarbz July 30, 2012 @ 4:35 p.m.

Citizens? You mean those useless people who live here taking up space? Who lost their beach fire rings because the city "couldn't afford" the upkeep?

The city cares about tourism and major league sports over residents, it seems.

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concerned July 30, 2012 @ 4:01 p.m.

My first reaction to Dorian's reporting of the City's intent to send incomplete refunds was continued sadness and incredulity regarding my neighborhood's dealing with this MAD case. I wonder why our City's elected and appointed leaders are against the very people they represent and work for? That the applications for the refund were not available, that the City Attorney delayed his response to the ruling show that property owners COULD NOT send the forms in prior to the expiration of the statue of limitations. Or am I missing something?

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goodlead July 31, 2012 @ 8:46 a.m.

It really seems that the city regards the citizens as nuisances who should pay their taxes and then shut their mouths. For example, City Attorney Goldsmith has stated that his office works for and represents city officials, not the citizens. In the eyes of city government, there is an entity, the city, which is separate and apart from the people who constitute it. The analogy is to the Catholic Church, which apparently regards the church as an entity separate and apart from the parishoners. In both cases the propensity for corruption and abuse is obvious.

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ghillguy July 31, 2012 @ 8:52 a.m.

The Golden Hill MAD is just the latest example of Todd Gloria and the city perpetuating an antagonistic relationship with its taxpaying citizens, the very residents the city is supposed to be serving. Instead, the city colluded with a flim-flam man who established the MAD based on lies. The city redrew the boundaries to include city-owned land, giving it a disproportionate "yes" vote to double-tax citizens for basic city services already paid for with our property taxes. Then it turned a blind eye to fraud by the Golden Hill CDC, who doled out no-bid contracts to its buddies in other cities (remember the $6,000 logo?). Finally, when faced with a lawsuit to dismantle the MAD, the city fought us, its citizens, tooth and nail, delaying the inevitable court decision for years, and deriding anyone who fought on the right side of the issue, all to protect their jobs and their bloated pensions. The refunds should have been sent months ago; instead, the city delayed and obfuscated, claiming they couldn't be sent until the end of the fiscal year (June 30), just long enough for a statute of limitations to kick in so they wouldn't have to send full refunds. The whole crooked thing is sickening. I'm so glad I decided to get out of California in 2011 and move to Texas, where the government doesn't spend all its time trying to figure out new ways to bilk the people it's supposed to be serving. I urge all Golden Hill residents to withhold the amount you were shorted on the refund from your property taxes. Simply direct the county assessor to the city's liability fund for the money. If confronted about it, tell the county you can't pay it until your fiscal year is over, say 2019.

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FunHater July 31, 2012 @ 3:18 p.m.

This has got to stop. What do you think would happen if tax payers were to dely tax payments? I am still waiting for my check.

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nostalgic July 31, 2012 @ 3:52 p.m.

If taxpayers had DELAYED their tax payment instead of paying on time, they would get their refunds, since they would be INSIDE the Statute of Limitations window, not OUTSIDE.

But I agree, FunHater, you do have to pay whatever is on your tax bill and no matter who voted for it. That IS the problem.

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MadAsHell July 31, 2012 @ 3:57 p.m.

I am sick to death of the way the city has treated the residents of South Park and Golden Hill. Nothing left to do but fight on.

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dchand Aug. 1, 2012 @ 1:43 a.m.

In 2004, I started building an apartment on C street between23rd and 22nd streets. The city made me put grass between the sidewalk and the curb. Also, they made me put palm trees in the same area. Now these require water. The water department sited me for wasting water and contaminating the ocean. Do they not know that fish and sea animals urinate and defecate in the ocean. The water I used you could drink. Then they sited me for wasting water. Do they not know that grass and palm trees require water. I am a retired physician. A synapse is a connection between two nerve cells. If they had one more nerve cell in their brains, they would have a synapse, and then they might just be able to think Then 22nd street is very dark. There are no street lights. The streets are also very dark. I put lights on my building to shine on the sidewalks. I furnish the electricity and I have a timer to turn them on and off. This does not benefit my buildiing; they are on the outside of my building. I did not kow about the GGHMAD. I just thought that my taxes went up. Politicians like to raise taxes. (many times, just for the hell of it.) That might have been something the GGHMAD could have done; put some street lights no 22nd street. I like to site Ball California, a small city. The city manager was paid over $200,000.00 a year. He was not satisfied with that, so he stole money from the city. I understand he did prison time. I am a retired orthopedist. I was up many a night fixing broken bones. I never made amything near $200,000.00 a year. I know I should have been a politician..

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GHH Aug. 6, 2012 @ 2:11 p.m.

In his message to Golden Hill residents on May 10, 2012, Todd Gloria opened: "Friends, The reimbursement process for the illegal assessments collected by the Greater Golden Hill MAD has been finalized." "Illegal assessments," he admitted! No apology or shame from the scheme's most committed champion - no beseeching promise to make things right, and to restore property owners' trust. Just a factual statement, as though Todd Gloria were no further involved in this "illegal assessment" than someone simply reporting the news of it.

In fact, the City has the audacity to warn property owners - on the very form required for claiming recompense from this illegal assessment: "WARNING: It is a criminal offense to file a false claim (Cal. Penal Code § 72)." Isn't that rich?!

If what's good for the goose is good for the gander, why is no one under indictment for cooking up - and perpetuating - this "illegal" scheme? If any property owner had defrauded even half as many people, he would be jailed for a very long time. City councilors should not be above the law. Indeed, there should be no leniency for abusing the power that's afforded those in public office, as their illegal acts affect many at a time. They should be at risk of losing far more that just re-election.

Deliberately engineering this "statute of limitations" get-out, to avoid repaying illegally taken assessments is just the icing on the putrid, corrupt cake that the city has force-fed its property owners. After they crookedly conceived and illegally pushed through the GGH MAD, they handed over management of it to another crooked organization (no doubt in someone's pocket) that blatantly mismanaged the resources, and pilfered funds for its own benefit. The City then disregarded one court's ruling on the illegality of their scheme, and even after a second court upheld the original judgment, they delayed the restitution long enough to avoid paying everything back to the homeowners that they'd fleeced.

Funny how the City knew exactly whom to bill for the "illegal assessments," but doesn't know whom to pay them back to! They're most certainly counting on a healthy attrition, in an attempt to keep as much of their ill-gotten gains as they can! Since when do thieves only have to return stolen goods if the rightful owner actively petitions for their return, and does so within a prescribed time limit that the thieves are able to manipulate by abusing the legal system? These elected City officials are using "lawfare" against the very homeowners who elected them to protect homeowners' interests.

Again, why aren't these people in jail?!

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GHH2 Aug. 6, 2012 @ 2:38 p.m.

This is outrageous. When the government makes a mistake - AND ADMITS TO IT - where the hell do they get the nerve to start playing games with delays and statutes of limitations crap. When you go to Vegas, ties go to the House. Well, listen here politicians. The people are the House in this game and ties go to us. Not to you and your weasel worded manipulations. What's wrong is wrong and if these taxes were illegal, then they were illegal and ALL the money collected for them was illegal and thus owed back to the taxpayer. What part of that do you all not understand?

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madhatter Aug. 6, 2012 @ 2:44 p.m.

The Statute of Limitations should be tolled, given the pending litigation. The city should not be able to use its own wrongdoings -- for which it was sued -- to get out of paying claims it owes. Of course, we are talking about the law, something it seems the city officials and "our" representatives don't care about because, we, citizens, are disposable (i.e., powerless).

More proof that this is the case? Here it goes: While we were filling out our really complicated forms to be reimbursed for all the years (yes, including 2007-2008) MAD was illegally taking our money, "our" representatives were already planning on cheating us. Disgusting.

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goldenhillgal Aug. 7, 2012 @ 4:03 p.m.

The Golden Hill MAD was found to be illegal by the courts. The city needs to do the right thing, honor the findings and return the money that was collected illegally to the members of the neighborhood. Our city representatives should be rallying around us and supporting the reimbursement process and making certain it is completed to the satisfaction of the ones who paid into the fund. That is what they were elected to do.

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