Provided by CPOA Legal Counsel, James R. Touchstone, Jones & Mayer
In January 2020, the California Fourth District Court of Appeals in City of Huntington Beach v. Becerra held that Section 7284.6 of the California Values Act (Government Code section 7284 et seq. (the “CVA”)) is constitutional as applied to charter cities because Section 7284.6 addresses matters of statewide concern, is reasonably related to resolution of those statewide concerns, and is narrowly tailored to avoid unnecessary interference in local government. In so holding, the Court followed and applied the opinions of the California Supreme Court in California Fed. Savings & Loan Assn. v. City of Los Angeles (1991) 54 Cal.3d 1 (“California Fed. Savings”) and State Building & Construction Trades Council of California v. City of Vista (2012) 54 Cal.4th 547 (“City of Vista”).
Under California law, cities are classified as either general law cities, which are organized under the general law of the State of California (Government Code section 34102) or charter cities, which are organized under a charter (Government Code section 34101). The City of Huntington Beach (the “City”) is a charter city.
Section 103 of the Huntington Beach Charter (the “Charter”) states: “The City shall have the power to make and enforce all laws and regulations in respect to municipal affairs, subject only to such restrictions and limitations as may be provided in this Charter or in the Constitution of the State of California.” Section 2.52.030 of the Huntington Beach Municipal Code states: “It shall be the duty of each and every member of the Police Department to enforce impartially all the laws and statutes of the United States and of the State of California and all of the ordinances of the City, within the limits of this City, and to perform such other and further duties as by statute and ordinance now existing or hereafter enacted, may be imposed upon them in their capacity as peace officers.” Section 2.24.050 of the Huntington Beach Municipal Code states: “The Police Chief shall perform such other acts as the laws of the state and ordinances of the Council may require.”
California Constitution Article XI, Section 5
Under the home rule doctrine, “[c]harter cities are specifically authorized by our state Constitution to govern themselves, free of state legislative intrusion, as to the matters deemed municipal affairs.” (City of Vista, supra, 54 Cal.4th at p. 555.)
Article XI, Section 5 of the California Constitution defines the scope of home rule powers of a charter city. Section 5(a) sets out the general rule of municipal self-governance and provides: “It shall be competent in any city charter to provide that the city governed thereunder may make and enforce all ordinances and regulations in respect to municipal affairs, subject only to the restrictions and limitations provided in their several charters and in respect to other matters they shall be subject to general laws. City charters adopted pursuant to this Constitution…with respect to municipal affairs shall supersede all laws inconsistent therewith.”
“Whereas subdivision (a) of article XI, Section 5 articulates the general principle of self-governance, subdivision (b) sets out a nonexclusive list of four ‘core’ categories that are, by definition, ‘municipal affairs.’” (Johnson v. Bradley (1992) 4 Cal.4th 389, 398, fn. omitted.) Section 5(b) provides in part: “It shall be competent in all city charters to provide, in addition to those provisions allowable by this Constitution, and by the laws of the State for: (1) the constitution, regulation, and government of the city police force […].”
The California Values Act
When enacting the California Values Act (“CVA”), the Legislature found “[i]mmigrants are valuable and essential members of the California community,” “[a] relationship of trust between California’s immigrant community and state and local agencies is central to the public safety of the people of California,” and “[t]his trust is threatened when state and local agencies are entangled with federal immigration enforcement.” (Government Code section 7284.2(a), (b) & (c)). As a result, the Legislature found, “immigrant community members fear approaching police when they are victims of, and witnesses to, crimes, seeking basic health services, or attending school, to the detriment of public safety and the well-being of all Californians.” (Section 7284.2(c)).
The Legislature further found that “[e]ntangling state and local agencies with federal immigration enforcement programs diverts already limited resources and blurs the lines of accountability between local, state, and federal governments.” (Section 7284.2(d)). The Legislature expressed concern that state and local participation in federal immigration enforcement could lead to the unconstitutional detention of California residents who were targeted based on race or ethnicity in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause. (Section 7284.2(e)). The goal of the CVA, the Legislature declared, is “to ensure effective policing, to protect the safety, well-being, and constitutional rights of the people of California, and to direct the state’s limited resources to matters of greatest concern to state and local governments.” (Section 7284.2(f)).
The CVA implements its purposes by prohibiting state and local law enforcement from engaging in certain specifically identified acts related to immigration enforcement. Section 7284.6, at issue here, restricts the ability of local law enforcement agencies to inquire into immigration status, place individuals on an immigration hold, and use personnel or resources to participate in certain immigration enforcement activities.
However, the CVA makes clear that California law enforcement agencies are not prohibited from engaging in certain activities with federal authorities. California law enforcement agencies are not prohibited from investigating, enforcing, detaining upon reasonable suspicion of, or arresting a person for a violation of section 1326(a) of title 8 of the United States Code (reentry of removed aliens). (Section 7284.6(b)(1).) California law enforcement agencies are not prohibited from responding to a request from immigration authorities for information about a specific person’s criminal history if otherwise permitted by state law. (Section 7284.6(b)(2)). California law enforcement agencies may conduct enforcement or investigative duties associated with a joint law enforcement task force so long as the primary purpose of the task force is not immigration enforcement and the enforcement or investigative duties are primarily related to a violation of law unrelated to immigration enforcement. (Section 7284.6(b)(3)).
The CVA states that it “does not prohibit or restrict any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, federal immigration authorities, information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of [any] individual, or from requesting from federal immigration authorities immigration status information, lawful or unlawful, of any individual, or maintaining or exchanging that information with any other federal, state, or local government entity, pursuant to [federal immigration laws].” (Section 7284.6(e)).
The CVA imposes on the California Attorney General the task of preparing and publishing “model policies limiting assistance with immigration enforcement to the fullest extent possible consistent with federal and state law” at public schools, public libraries, public health facilities, shelters, and other facilities, “and ensuring that they remain safe and accessible to all California residents, regardless of immigration status.” The CVA also imposes restrictions on the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The City filed a petition for writ of mandamus and a complaint for declaratory relief to “invalidate the unconstitutional mandates of the [CVA] that impermissibly strip the City’s constitutionally protected Charter authority with respect to local ‘municipal affairs.’” The City alleged the CVA unconstitutionally violated the City’s authority to conduct municipal affairs constitutionally guaranteed under Section 5 by mandating how the City operates its police force. The City sought a mandate to command “that [the Attorney General] not enforce the [CVA] against the City and comply with Article XI, Section 5 of the California Constitution.” The City also prayed for a declaration that the CVA was unconstitutional and preempted by Article XI, Section 5 of the California Constitution. The City argued Section 5 granted charter cities “supreme authority” over municipal affairs, which include operation of the City’s police force. The City argued the CVA is “an impermissible, un-Constitutional overreach, is void, and should be invalidated” because it intruded upon the City’s control of its police force. The Attorney General filed opposition, which included the CVA’s legislative history, declarations from law enforcement officials, and a declaration from a professor who had conducted studies pertinent to these issues.
A hearing was conducted on the City’s petition for writ of mandamus and complaint. The City narrowed the scope of relief sought by identifying Section 7284.6 as the “operative portion” of the CVA that the City sought to have invalidated.
The trial court granted the City’s petition and a peremptory writ of mandate was issued ordering the Attorney General to refrain from enforcing Section 7284.6 against the City. The court found: (1) the “constitution, regulation and government” of a police force is a “quintessential municipal affair under [Section] 5(a)”; (2) the “constitution, regulation and government” of a police force is “a municipal prerogative” protected by Section 5(b); and (3) “there is no ‘statewide concern’ justifying the state[‘]s regulation of a Charter City’s police force.” The Attorney General appealed.
The California Fourth District Court of Appeal noted that home rule authority under Section 5 does not mean charter cities can never be subject to state laws that concern or regulate municipal affairs. “[A] charter city’s authority to enact legislation is not unlimited.” (Jauregui v. City of Palmdale (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 781, 795.) The Court explained that the Legislature may legislate as to matters of statewide concern and, if the statute is not overbroad, then the conflicting charter city law “ceases to be a ‘municipal affair’ pro tanto and the Legislature is not prohibited by Article XI, Section 5(a), from addressing the statewide dimension by its own tailored enactments.” (California Fed. Savings, supra, 54 Cal.3d at p. 17). “[G]eneral law prevails over local enactments of a chartered city, even in regard to matters which would otherwise be deemed to be strictly municipal affairs, where the subject matter of the general law is of statewide concern.” (People ex rel. Seal Beach Police Officers Assn. v. City of Seal Beach (1984) 36 Cal.3d 591, 600 (“Seal Beach”), quoting Professional Fire Fighters, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles (1963) 60 Cal.2d 276, 292; see Baggett v. Gates (1982) 32 Cal.3d 128, 136 [“‘As to matters which are of statewide concern, however, home rule charter cities remain subject to and controlled by applicable general state laws regardless of the provisions of their charters’”]).
The Fourth District explained that the California Supreme Court developed a four-part “analytical framework” to determine whether a state law unconstitutionally infringes the home rule authority of charter cities granted by Article XI, Section 5 of the California Constitution. (City of Vista, supra, 54 Cal.4th at p. 556; California Fed. Savings, supra, 54 Cal.3d at pp. 16–17.) First, the court determines whether the local law at issue regulates an activity that can be characterized as a municipal affair. (City of Vista, supra, at p. 556; California Fed. Savings, supra, at p. 16.) Second, the court determines whether there is an actual conflict between state law and the local law. (City of Vista, supra, at p. 556; California Fed. Savings, supra, at pp. 16–17.) If no conflict exists, the analysis is complete and there is no need to go to the next step. (California Fed. Savings, supra, at p. 16.) Third, the court decides whether the state law addresses a matter of “‘statewide concern.’” (City of Vista, supra, at p. 556; California Fed. Savings, supra, at p. 17.) Fourth, and finally, the court determines whether the state law is “‘reasonably related to … resolution’” of the identified statewide concern and is “‘narrowly tailored’ to avoid unnecessary interference in local governance.” (City of Vista, supra, at p. 556; California Fed. Savings, supra, at p. 17; see Marquez v. City of Long Beach (2019) 32 Cal.App.5th 552, 562–563; Jauregui, supra, 226 Cal.App.4th at pp. 795–796).
The City contended that the four-part analytical framework of City of Vista and California Fed. Savings was inapplicable if the local law concerned one of the four municipal affairs identified in Section 5(b), which include creation, regulation, and governance of a police force and compensation of city employees. The City argued the four-part test was unnecessary and the charter city’s authority was limited only by the state and federal constitutions. The Court noted that while Section 5(a) does not define or provide examples of municipal affairs, Section 5(b) provides a nonexclusive list of four areas defined to be municipal affairs. Unlike Section 5(a), Section 5(b) does not state that charter city ordinances in those areas are subject only to the restrictions and limitations of the city charter. Nor does Section 5(b) give any special or distinct status to the identified four municipal affairs.
The Court concluded that the four-part analytical framework of City of Vista and California Fed. Savings would apply to a state law that was claimed to intrude on a charter city’s right under Section 5(b) to create, regulate, and govern a police force, just as it would apply when the municipal affair came within the scope of Section 5(a). Moreover, the Court observed that the California Supreme Court, in assessing the validity of state laws under the home rule doctrine, had never drawn a distinction between municipal affairs under Section 5(a) and Section 5(b). The Court then considered Supreme Court cases on the matter.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal observed that the Supreme Court, in Baggett v. Gates (1982) 32 Cal.3d 128, 131, indirectly rejected the notion that municipal affairs identified in Section 5(b) can never be subject to state regulation. In that case, the Supreme Court considered whether the Public Safety Officers’ Procedural Bill of Rights (“PSOPBR”) (Government Code sections 3300–3311) applied to charter cities.
Citing Baggett and other cases, the Supreme Court in People ex rel. Seal Beach Police Officers Assn. v. City of Seal Beach (1984) 36 Cal.3d 591, 600 (“Seal Beach”) expressly rejected the notion that municipal affairs identified in Section 5(b) can never be subject to state regulation.
The Fourth District explained that in Jauregui v. City of Palmdale (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 781, the Second District Court of Appeal followed the reasoning of Seal Beach to conclude that provisions of the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (Elec. Code, §§ 14025–14032) applied to the defendant charter city. And in Marquez v. City of Long Beach (2019) 32 Cal.App.5th 552, the Second District, after reviewing the relevant case law, held that “the Legislature may enact laws of broad general application that impact charter city compensation where the state law’s infringement on local authority is reasonably related to an important statewide concern.” (Id. at p. 567.)
The Fourth District here found that these four decisions—Baggett, Seal Beach, Jauregui, and Marquez—demonstrated that the four-part analytical framework of City of Vista and California Fed. Savings applied when a state law was challenged as infringing a municipal affair identified in Section 5(b).
Part One: The Huntington Beach Charter and Municipal Code Provisions Regulate Municipal Affairs.
The Fourth District proceeded to apply the four-part analytical framework of City of Vista and California Fed. Savings to Section 7284.6. The first part determined whether the city ordinance at issue regulated an activity that can be characterized as a municipal affair. (City of Vista, supra, 54 Cal.4th at p. 556). Section 103 of the Huntington Beach Charter provided the City the power to make and enforce all laws and regulations in respect to municipal affairs. Huntington Beach Municipal Code section 2.52.030, makes it “the duty of each and every member of the Police Department to enforce impartially all the laws and statutes of the United States and of the State of California and all of the ordinances of the City.” The City contended that both sections were unconstitutionally infringed by Section 7284.6 of the CVA.
The Court determined, based on its prior analysis of Section 5, that there was no doubt Huntington Beach Charter section 103 and Huntington Beach Municipal Code section 2.52.030 regulated activity that could be characterized as a municipal affair—the constitution, regulation, and government of the City police force. (See Section 5(b)(1)). The Court explained that Section 103 of the charter was broadly drafted to include all city functions, including operation of the police force. However, the Court denied the City’s contention that the CVA unconstitutionally infringed its right to compensate employees because the City never explained how the CVA affects employee compensation and never identified a charter provision or municipal code section at odds with the CVA on that matter.
Part Two: There Is An Actual Conflict Between Section 7284.6 and Huntington Beach Charter Section 103.
The second part of the analytical framework determined whether there was an actual conflict between Section 7284.6 and the invoked charter and municipal code provisions. (City of Vista, supra, 54 Cal.4th at p. 556). The Court explained: “[A] court asked to resolve a putative conflict between a state statute and a charter city measure initially must satisfy itself that the case presents an actual conflict between the two.” (California Fed. Savings, supra, 54 Cal.3d at p. 16.)
The Court found no actual conflict between Section 7284.6 and Huntington Beach Municipal Code section 2.52.030 because the municipal code section only imposed a requirement of impartial enforcement, and did not mean the members of the police department must enforce every single state and federal law.
The Court found a conflict between Section 7284.6 and the City charter’s section 103 because the Court determined that Section 103 conferred on the City a broad grant of authority over any and all legally cognizable municipal affairs, including authority over “the constitution, regulation, and government of the police force.” (Section 5(b)(1)). By prohibiting state and local law enforcement from engaging in certain activities related to immigration enforcement, Section 7284.6 directly restricted the regulation of the City police force. The Court stated that Section 103 would grant the City authority, for example, to regulate its police force by having its officers inquire into an arrestee’s immigration status or participate in arrests based on civil immigration warrants. Subdivisions (a)(1)(A) and (a)(1)(E) of section 7284.6 prohibit such activity.
Part Three: The CVA Addresses a Matter of Statewide Concern.
Because the Court found an actual conflict between Section 7284.6 and Section 103, the Court turned to the third part of the analytical framework, whether the CVA and Section 7284.6 in particular, addressed a matter of statewide concern. (City of Vista, supra, 54 Cal.4th at p. 556.) The Court noted that any doubt as to whether a matter was of statewide or strictly local concern must be resolved in favor of “‘the legislative authority of the state.’” (California Fed. Savings, supra, 54 Cal.3d at p. 24.)
The Court observed that the Legislature made substantial and detailed findings to support its enactment of the CVA, as noted above. According great weight to these legislative findings, the Fourth District concluded as a matter of law that the findings identified statewide concerns that justified binding charter cities to the dictates of Section 7284.6. The Court stated that it was “virtually self-evident that public safety is a matter of statewide concern, explaining that the State’s historic police powers provided “the authority to structure and influence the relationship between state law enforcement and the community it serves” (United States v. California (E.D. Cal. 2018) 314 F.Supp.3d 1077, 1108, affd. in part & revd. in part United States v. California, supra, 921 F.3d 865), and pointing to California’s lengthy Penal Code and what the Court described as a “vast” state prison system.
The Fourth District found other applicable statewide concerns as well. The Court observed that immigrants live throughout the State of California and are a large portion of its population and that law enforcement agencies throughout the state interact with immigrants. The Court determined that the need for immigrants to report crimes, work with law enforcement, and serve as witnesses, was therefore a statewide, and not purely local, concern. Statewide concerns were also raised by the Legislature’s finding that immigrant community members might be deterred from seeking health care or attending school if local law enforcement were “entangled with federal immigration enforcement.”
The Court also determined that uniform application of the CVA throughout the highly urbanized and integrated state was necessary to ensure it adequately addresses these statewide concerns. The Court explained that “[i]f every city and county were able to opt out of the statutory regime simply by passing a local ordinance, the statewide goal[s] of [public safety, better law enforcement, and protection of constitutional rights] would surely be frustrated.” (Fiscal v. City and County of San Francisco (2008) 158 Cal.App.4th 895, 919.)
Although the City submitted a declaration in support of its position from its highly experienced Chief of Police, Robert Handy, who severely criticized the CVA, the Court explained that this evidence was outweighed by the Legislature’s thorough and detailed findings, the evidence cited in the legislative history of the CVA and other evidence submitted by the Attorney General.
Part Four: The CVA Is Reasonably Related to the Statewide Concerns.
The Fourth District arrived at the fourth part of the analytical framework to determine “whether the law is ‘reasonably related to … resolution’ of [the statewide] concern [citation] and ‘narrowly tailored’ to avoid unnecessary interference in local governance.” (City of Vista, supra, 54 Cal.4th at p. 556). The Court found that the CVA, in particular Section 7284.6, was reasonably related to the statewide concerns of effective policing, public health and safety, prudent use of public resources, and protection of constitutional rights. The Court explained that by limiting or prohibiting certain law enforcement activities, such as inquiring into immigration status and placing a person on an immigration hold, which eroded trust between immigrants and the police, Section 7284.6 thereby encouraged both immigrants and nonimmigrants to report crimes, work with law enforcement, and serve as witnesses. The Court found that these restrictions helped ensure that public law enforcement resources were directed at fighting state-law crimes, which the Court deemed to present a greater threat to public safety in the state.
The Fourth District found that the CVA was narrowly tailored and did not intrude unnecessarily upon municipal interests. The Court also determined that other CVA restrictions on local law enforcement activity pertaining to immigration enforcement were themselves limited by Government Code section 7282.5.
Based on its application of the four-part analytical framework set forth in City of Vista and California Fed. Savings, the Fourth District Court of Appeal concluded that Section 7284.6 did not unconstitutionally infringe a charter city’s rights under Section 5(b) to constitute, regulate, and govern a city police force or to compensate city employees. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded with directions to deny the petition for writ of mandamus and enter judgment in favor of the Attorney General. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded with directions to deny the City’s petition.
HOW THIS AFFECTS YOUR AGENCY
With the Fourth District’s decision here, charter cities must adhere to the restrictions set forth in Section 7284.6 of the CVA. The breadth of this decision is clear as the Court centered on the “statewide concerns” involved in justifying its decision. In addition, agencies should observe that the Court noted those activities that the CVA did not prevent law enforcement from undertaking, such as sharing publicly available information concerning release dates of inmates in their custody. Whether the case will continue on further appeal remains to be seen.
As always, if you wish to discuss this matter in greater detail, please feel free to contact James R. Touchstone at (714) 446–1400 or via email at email@example.com.
Information on www.jones-mayer.com is for general use and is not legal advice. The mailing of this Client Alert Memorandum is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client-relationship.
 2020 Cal. App. LEXIS 23 (4th Dist. Jan. 10, 2020).
 The full text of Section(b) states: “It shall be competent in all city charters to provide, in addition to those provisions allowable by this Constitution, and by the laws of the State for: (1) the constitution, regulation, and government of the city police force (2) subgovernment in all or part of a city (3) conduct of city elections and (4) plenary authority is hereby granted, subject only to the restrictions of this article, to provide therein or by amendment thereto, the manner in which, the method by which, the times at which, and the terms for which the several municipal officers and employees whose compensation is paid by the city shall be elected or appointed, and for their removal, and for their compensation, and for the number of deputies, clerks and other employees that each shall have, and for the compensation, method of appointment, qualifications, tenure of office and removal of such deputies, clerks and other employees.”
 Specifically, Section 7284.6 prohibits state and local law enforcement from:
(1) inquiring into a person’s immigration status (Section 7284.6 (a)(1)(A));
(2) detaining a person on the basis of a “hold” request from immigration authorities (Section 7284.6 (a)(1)(B));
(3) providing information regarding a person’s release date or responding to requests for notification by providing release dates unless that information is available to the public (Section 7284.6 (a)(1)(C));
(4) providing personal information, such as address and employment status, to immigration authorities, unless that information is available to the public (Section 7284.6 (a)(1)(D));
(5) making or intentionally participating in arrests based on civil immigration warrants (Section 7284.6 (a)(1)(E)); (6) assisting immigration authorities in warrantless searches near the United States border (Section 7284.6 (a)(1)(F));
(7) performing the functions of an immigration agent (Section 7284.6 (a)(1)(G));
(8) placing local law enforcement officers under the supervision of a federal agency for purposes of immigration enforcement (Section 7284.6 (a)(2));
(9) using immigration officers as interpreters for law enforcement matters under the jurisdiction of state or local law enforcement agencies (Section 7284.6 (a)(3));
(10) transferring a person to immigration authorities unless authorized by a judicial warrant or judicial probable cause determination (Section 7284.6 (a)(4));
(11) providing office space exclusively dedicated for immigration agents within a county or city law enforcement facility (Section 7284.6 (a)(5)); and
(12) contracting with the federal government for use of California law enforcement facilities to house persons as federal detainees for purposes of civil immigration custody (Section 7284.6 (a)(6)).
 Government Code section 7284.8(a).