In City and County of San Francisco v. Regents of the University of California, the Supreme Court today holds the California Constitution allows San Francisco, as a charter city, to require state universities in the city to collect from drivers a 25 percent city tax at the schools’ paid parking lots.  The court’s unanimous opinion by Justice Leondra Kruger concludes that state agencies are not exempt from the tax, because it is imposed on drivers who park in all paid lots in the city, and that requiring a state agency to collect and remit the tax does not offend the state constitution.

The court states, “Private parties transacting on state property may not appropriate to themselves the state’s immunity from local taxation, and state agencies may not nullify local taxes on account of unfavorable secondary economic effects.”  It also finds that conscripting a state university to be the city’s parking tax collector imposes “no more than a de minimis administrative burden” and is thus appropriate under the standard of review that requires “a sensitive balancing of constitutional interests, rather than a simple invocation of constitutional rank.”

The court reverses a divided First District, Division One, Court of Appeal, saying it “[h]ear[d] the call” of the dissenting appellate court justice for a definitive statement of the relevant law.

Second District, Division Five, Court of Appeal Justice Lamar Baker sat pro tem on the case in place of recused Justice Joshua Groban.