Ever since Proposition 13 put the squeeze on local governments, special assessment levies have become a convenient financing alternative in California because the public can be sidestepped. That may not be the case for much longer, however, if two taxpayer groups have their way. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Paul Gann's Citizens Committee hope to place a constitutional initiative on the state ballot next year that would require voter approval for the creation of assessment districts. The groups plan to launch a signature-gathering drive within the next two months to get the initiative on the November 1994 ballot.
Their efforts are a backlash against a December 1992 California Supreme Court decision, Knox v. City of Orland. The ruling gave local governments broader latitude to impose special assessments without a public vote.