IMPORTANT NOTE: THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT A REFUND CLAIM FORM WAS SEPTEMBER 23, 2009. CLAIMS ARE NO LONGER BEING ACCEPTED. DISTRIBUTION OF THE REFUND PAYMENTS TO VALID AND TIMELY CLAIMANTS COMMENCED ON DECEMBER 18, 2009 AND SHOULD BE COMPLETED BY DECEMBER 22, 2009.
The California Supreme Court held an assessment paid on real property for open space and parklands by real estate taxpayers to the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority, known as the District Two Assessment, was imposed in violation of the California Constitution. Following the Courtís decision, the Authority cancelled the assessment for 2008-09 and all subsequent tax years, however, the Court did not rule on refunds, or other relief that might be due to taxpayers, or what defenses the Open Space Authority might have to such claims of relief.
If you paid this assessment between tax years 2002-03 and 2007-08, you were entitled to claim a refund under a class action lawsuit settlement. The refund varied depending on the type of property (e.g., single-family residential, multi-residential, commercial) and length of ownership. A single-family homeowner received about $20 for each year he or she paid the District Two Assessment, or about $120 if he or she owned the property for the entire six years the Assessment was charged.
The Open Space Authority has kept in a fund the approximately $57 million it collected from the District Two Assessment before the Supreme Courtís decision, including accrued interest. Except for interest, the fund is available for the payment of refunds, taxpayersí attorneyís fees and litigation expenses, notice expenses, and other costs.
The Settlement paid full refunds to taxpayers who made valid refund claims and avoided the expense, risk, and delay of continuing court proceedings. It also released the Open Space Authority from liability to taxpayers for both its District One and District Two Assessments.
All Class Members who submitted online or mailed in valid Refund Claims were mailed a full refund of their District Two Assessment payments on or about December 18, 2009. Class Members who submitted a claim before May 29, 2009 ("Prior Claim"), received a full refund of their District Two Assessment payments, plus interest on the Prior Claim at the rate of three percent (3%) from the date the claim was filed to May 29, 2009.
While the refund varied depending on the type of property (e.g., single-family residential, multi-residential, commercial) and length of ownership, an owner of a single-family residence generally paid approximately $20 per year. The fee and expense payment did not decrease the amount of any Class Memberís refund.
The Court granted final approval on September 18, 2009, and entered Final Judgment on October 7, 2009. Class Members who filed valid and timely claims were mailed their Refund Payment on or about December 18, 2009.
Refund Claims that were not postmarked or received by September 23, 2009 were not accepted. A letter notifying the Class Member that their Refund Claim has not been accepted has been mailed to those Class Members who did not submit a timely Refund Claim.
If the information you provided on your submitted Refund Claim Form indicates that you are not a Class Member because you are not the taxpayer who paid all or some part of the District Two Assessment and/or the property that is the basis for your claim was not assessed the District Two Assessment, you were mailed a letter notifying you that your claim is not eligible for a Refund Payment. If you were mailed such a letter but believe that you did pay all or some part of the District Two Assessment, you have an opportunity to provide the Claims Administrator with documentation to support your claim.
Submit a Refund Claim Form. The claims submission period has expired. The deadline to submit a Refund Claim Form was September 23, 2009.
If you submitted a Prior Claim, you did not need to submit a Refund Claim Form.
Exclude Yourself From the Settlement. The deadline to exclude yourself from the Settlement was July 25, 2009. If you excluded yourself, you will get no refund from the Settlement, but will retain any right you may have to bring lawsuits challenging the District One and Two Assessments, subject to any legal defenses the Authority may have.
Object to the Settlement. The deadline to object to the Settlement was July 20, 2009.
Go to a Court Hearing. The Court held a Fairness Hearing on July 31, 2009. More information about the Courtís fairness hearing is provided below.
Do Nothing. You could have decided to do nothing. You were not obligated to file a refund claim. The Open Space Authority will keep your unclaimed refund amount for preservation of parklands and open space. You gave up your right to sue the Authority for charging the District One and District Two Assessments.
The Court held a Fairness Hearing on July 31, 2009 in Department 17C, located at 191 N. First Street, San Jose, CA 95113, before Judge Jack Komar. The Court listened to people who asked to speak at the hearing and considered all comments and/or objections. On September 18, 2009, the Court concluded that the Settlement is fair and reasonable, and ordered final approval of the Settlement. The Court entered Final Judgment on October 7, 2009.
|September 23, 2009
|Claim Form Deadline (postmarked)|
|July 25, 2009
|Request for Exclusion Deadline (postmarked)|
|July 20, 2009
|Objection Filing Deadline (filed)|
|July 31, 2009
at 9:00 a.m.
|Final Approval Hearing|
|December 18, 2009
|Distribution of Refund Payments|