What is a Landscape Maintenance District (LMD)?
An LMD is a special district formed to provide landscape and appurtenant improvements and maintenance pursuant to the Landscaping and Lighting Act (LLA) of 1972 (Part 2 of Division 15 of the California Streets and Highway Code) and applicable provisions of Proposition 218 (Article XIIID of the California Constitution). Under the provisions of these laws, the cost of the operation and maintenance of the LMD is funded through the assessments collected from the benefitting property owners in the LMD.
Why do we have LMDs?
To provide benefitting property owners the opportunity to pay for enhanced landscaping and appurtenant improvements, maintenance, and services beyond those generally provided by the County.
How are LMDs formed?
An LMD may be formed at the time a new subdivision is built. The developer develops scope of service and submits to Public Works for approval. The formation of an LMD involves the annexation of the subdivision territories benefitting from the LMD improvements. The annexation is a legal process and requires the vote of the property owner(s) and the approval of the Board of Supervisors for the annual assessments levied against the benefitting property owner(s). Prospective buyers of the property are informed of the existence of the LMD and the assessment will be shown as a line-item on their property tax bill.
If the community is already developed when the LMD is proposed to be formed, an advocating member of the community or organization (i.e., homeowners association) contacts Public Works to start the formation process. The formation process involves petitioning the benefitting property owners to determine whether or not the majority desire to form a District. If the petition is obtained in favor of the formation of an LMD then Public Works will proceed with the legal process which includes the preparation of an Engineer's Report outlining the LMD boundaries, parcels and lots to be included in the LMD, improvements, costs for improvements, and assessment for the costs of improvements as well as for the on-going operation and maintenance of improvements. The cost of forming an LMD is funded by the benefitting property owners.
How long does it take to set up an LMD?
Typically, the process to establish a new LMD takes approximately one year after the improvements and the scope of maintenance service have been determined by the developer or requesting community. The process involves obtaining the necessary petition; preparation of an Engineer’s Report outlining the proposed LMD boundaries, scope of improvements and maintenance service, and assessment rates; community meeting(s) to address questions; and the Board approval process.
Why am I being assessed for LMD services?
All parcels or lots within the boundaries of any LMD are assessed to fund the on-going operation and maintenance of improvements within the LMD. The assessment rates are reviewed annually and approved by the Board.
How is the annual assessment determined?
By law, benefit assessments cannot be based on the value of property. Instead, each LMD establishes a benefit formula and each parcel in the service area is assessed according to the benefit it receives from the services and improvements.
How long will the assessment be charged against my property?
Assessments that pay for ongoing services will continue as long as services are provided. However, LMDs formed solely to finance major improvements (i.e. community centers) may cease to be collected after bonds used to finance the project have been paid off. Or, a reduced assessment may be levied to pay for ongoing service and maintenance, if authorized during formation.
What are the law concerning LMDs?
A Landscape Maintenance District (LMD) is authorized by the State of California through the "Landscaping and Lighting Act of 1972" (Part 2 of Division 15 of the California Streets and Highways Code) and applicable provisions of "Proposition 218" (Article XIIID of the California Constitution).
Under the provisions of these laws, a private developer or community can request that an LMD be formed and the County can then assess properties based on the amount of benefit each property will receive.
Links to the laws referenced above are provided below:
• Streets and Highways Code Division 15, Part 2, Chapters 1-6 (PDF)Streets and Highways Code Division 15, Part 2, Chapters 1-6 (PDF)
• Article XIIID of California Constitution (Proposition 218) (PDF)
What is involved in balloting?
Proposition 218, also called “The Right to Vote on Taxes Act”, requires agencies to give written notice to all affected property owners, conduct a public meeting, and hold a vote on the establishment of new assessments or an increase to an existing assessment. An official ballot will be mailed to each property owner in the LMD for this vote. The ballot will be counted at the hearing and the Board may adopt the formation of an LMD and the levy of the assessment rate if there is no majority protest. A majority protest exists when at least 50% (weighted) of the submitted ballots protest against the LMD formation and establishment or increase in the assessment rate.
What are the special benefits funded by LMD?
The special benefits funded by LMD are any benefits that are above and beyond the general benefits the public would receive from standard improvements. The special benefits include landscaping and construction of any appurtenant facilities which are necessary or convenient for the maintenance or servicing of, including, but not limited to, grading, clearing, removal of debris, and the installation of irrigation or electrical facilities. An LMD may also fund the cost of administration of the LMD, design, and installation of qualifying improvements.
How do the State's recent mandatory reductions in water use impact LMDs?
In response to the state-mandated water use restrictions, all LMDs have ceased irrigation of any turf along landscaped medians. This impacts Zones 1, 1A, 34, 35, 56, and 66. Modifications to the irrigation systems are being made to make sure that no other landscape features in the medians will be affected.
Further impacts will be known as the LMDs work with each of the water purveyors to establish the target reduction requirements set forth by the Governor’s Executive Order. Please check back on our website for updates to your Zone.