City plans to ask court for new trial in challenge to La Jolla MAD (Maintenance Assessment District)

The City of San Diego has notified the San Diego Superior Court that it plans to request a new trial in a lawsuit that essentially set aside a new taxing authority — aka La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) -- designed to spruce up local streets and sidewalks in The Village.

The City filed two notices with the court on Jan. 22, according to a register of actions in the case. The filings notified the court that the City would be asking it to vacate a judge’s Nov. 30 ruling against the MAD and grant the City a new trial.

According to the notices, the City is making the request on grounds that it did not receive a fair trial because of issues including an abuse of discretion by the court and irregularities in the legal proceedings.

The City has until Feb. 2 to file briefs and affidavits supporting its request, according to the plaintiff’s attorneys.

Some La Jolla property owners filed the lawsuit in 2016 to challenge as an unlawful tax the City’s new La Jolla MAD through which the City had planned to collect more than $500,000 in tax revenue in 2018. The money was supposed to pay for services including trash collection, litter pickup, power-washing sidewalks and landscape maintenance in the area covered by the special district.

The property owners argued that the MAD was unconstitutional because it funded some services that the City Charter already requires the City to provide to the general public.

On Nov. 30, San Diego Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp ruled in the property owners’ favor, finding that the City failed to show the MAD would provide special benefits, as opposed to those already provided as part of general municipal services, court records show.

Maria Severson, an attorney with the San Diego-based law firm Aguirre & Severson LLP, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the La Jolla property owners, said Wednesday that her firm plans to fight the City’s attempt to re-argue the case.

Severson said the case was fully-briefed on both sides and there is no new evidence that would warrant a reversal of the judge’s “well-reasoned” decision.

The City did not respond to the San Diego Union-Tribune’s request for information about the notices.