In a 3-2 split vote, the California State Board of Equalization (BOE) voted against issuing formal guidance to county assessors regarding mid-year re-assessments due to declines in value caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eversheds Sutherland Observation: While the California Constitution, Article XIII, Section 15, uses the words “physical damage,” the constitutionality of Section 170(a)(1) has not been called into question since its enactment in 1979. If any county assessor believes that Section 170(a)(1), and in particular its adoption of “restricted access” as a form of physical damage is unconstitutional, his or her sole remedy is to bring a declaratory relief action under Section 1060 of the Code of Civil Procedure. See Cal. Rev. & Tax. Code § 538. We are not aware that any such action has been brought.
Moreover, in Slocum v. State Board of Equalization, 134 Cal.App.4th 969 (2005), the Court of Appeal suggested that the Legislature’s interpretation was a permissible one – characterizing restricted access as a form of “indirect physical damage.”