Public notices under attack

Among the 2,495 bills introduced in the Senate and Assembly before last Friday’s deadline are four bills that would eliminate public notice advertising for the self-storage industry, the state controller, the Golden Gate bridge district and county treasurers and tax collectors.

Two of the bills were introduced by Orange County Assemblyman Tom Daly (D-Anaheim). The first, AB 1108, is sponsored by the Self-Storage Association.

AB 1108 would require notices of lien sales, when a tenant fails to pay rent and his or her property is about to be auctioned off, to be published in a newspaper of general circulation or “published in any other media that is reasonably calculated to provide notice to potential buyers and the general public or both.”

The reference to “any other media” would allow these notices to be posted online, making it difficult, if not impossible for anyone to get notice that the tenant is about to lose her or his property.

The second bill by Assemblyman Daly, AB 722, sponsored by State Controller Betty Yee, would no longer require the Controller to publish unclaimed property notices in a newspaper of general circulation. These notices attempt to reunite the owner with the property before the property comes under the control of the state.

According to the controller’s office, for the last several years the Controller has placed these notices in broadcast, internet and billboard ads in addition to newspapers of general circulation. The Controller said she plans to continue placing the notices in newspapers of general circulation. CNPA staff is working with the controller’s office to try to amend the bill to continue to require these notices to be published in newspapers of general circulation.

SB 622 was introduced by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) on behalf of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, a local government agency that operates the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Transit buses and the Golden Gate Ferry.

SB 622 would eliminate the requirement that the district publish in a newspaper of general circulation any notice requesting bids for “contracts for all vessel repair, maintenance, and alteration work.” Instead, the bill would require the district to publish the notice requesting bids on the district’s internet website at least 10 days before bids are due.

Currently, bid notices for contracts that exceed $20,000 are the only notices required to be published. AB 622 would change the threshold to $100,000.

The fourth public notice threat is currently in the form of a spot bill by Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa). The bill, SB 742, is an innocuous amendment of the Government Code but is the potential vehicle for Moorlach’s plan to allow tax collectors to post notices on their websites. Specifically, Moorlach proposes to authorize tax collectors, upon passage of a resolution by the county board of supervisors, to post on the tax collector’s website any notice required to be published in a newspaper of general circulation under the Revenue and Taxation Code.

Several publishers in Sacramento for CNPA Governmental Affairs Day last week met with Moorlach in an attempt to dissuade him from moving forward with his plan.

The fact that he introduced a spot bill rather than a substantive bill with the proposed language, which the senator shared with CNPA staff, is encouraging, but he can amend his language into the bill anytime in the next few weeks.

The proposal is sponsored by the California Association of County Tax Collectors and Treasurers.

None of the four bills have yet been assigned to a policy committee for hearing.

Stay tuned to next week’s Legislative Bulletin for updates on CNPA staff’s efforts to try to convince the authors to amend or abandon their efforts. In the next edition, staff will provide members with contact information for the authors, your legislators and various committee members as well as talking points to use in these communications.

If you have any questions, please contact Jim Ewert at 916-288-6013.