Validity of a Charter City Ordinance Court Analysis
Case law has clarified how courts should analyze whether an ordinance enacted by a charter city is valid. "First, a court must determine whether there is a genuine conflict between a state statute and a municipal ordinance.
Only after concluding there is an actual conflict should a court proceed with the second question; i.e., does the local legislation impact a municipal or statewide concern?" (Barajas v. City of Anaheim (1993) 15 Cal. App. 4th 1808, 1813 19 Cal. Rptr. 2d 764.)
Courts should avoid making unnecessary choices between competing claims of municipal and state governments "by carefully insuring that the purported conflict is in fact a genuine one, unresolvable short of choosing between one enactment and the other." (California Fed. Savings & Loan Assn. v. City of Los Angeles (1991) 54 Cal. 3d 1, 16-17 283 Cal. Rptr. 569, 812 P.2d 916.)
In other words, the preemption question begins with an inquiry into the existence of a conflict. If there is no conflict, the home rule doctrine is not brought into play.
"A conflict exists if the local legislation " 'duplicates, contradicts, or enters an area fully occupied by general law, either expressly or by legislative implication." (Sherwin-Williams Co. v. City of Los Angeles (1993) 4 Cal. 4th 893, 897 16 Cal. Rptr. 2d 215, 844 P.2d 534 (Sherwin-Williams).)
"Local legislation enters an area that is 'fully occupied' by general law when the Legislature has expressly manifested its intent to 'fully occupy' the area citation, or when it has impliedly done so in light of one of the following indicia of intent:
'(1) the subject matter has been so fully and completely covered by general law as to clearly indicate that it has become exclusively a matter of state concern;
(2) the subject matter has been partially covered by general law couched in such terms as to indicate clearly that a paramount state concern will not tolerate further or additional local action;
(3) the subject matter has been partially covered by general law, and the subject is of such a nature that the adverse effect of a local ordinance on the transient citizens of the state outweighs the possible benefit to the' locality." (Id. at p. 898, quoting In re Hubbard (1964) 62 Cal. 2d 119, 128 41 Cal. Rptr. 393, 396 P.2d 809, disapproved on another point in Bishop v. City of San Jose (1969) 1 Cal. 3d 56, 63, fn. 6 81 Cal. Rptr. 465, 460 P.2d 137.)