This might become a regular series. Recently I wrote about California property owners who got into trouble for moving dirt and trees on their property because doing so violated a conservation easement. More recently I read about a municipal ordinance in California that prohibits automotive repairs and maintenance on residential property under certain conditions. That kind of government regulation is probably the most frequent cause to ask, “what do you mean, I can’t __________ [fill in the blank] on my own property?”
There are undoubtedly many situations where car repairs being done on residential property create a genuine nuisance to the neighbors. This recent California example, however, goes way too far, in my opinion. The ordinance recites several prohibited actions when repairing a car on residential property, including “using tools not normally found in a residence.” Does that mean I can’t install a lift in my garage? I know car enthusiasts who have done that. And how does anyone know with any certainty what constitutes a tool not normally found in a residence?
The city government that adopted this ordinance might have been sincerely attempting to address situations that are a material detriment to their community. I suspect that there may be neighborhoods where there are people running auto repair businesses in their home garage or driveway, but the city sure did try to squash a mosquito with a sledgehammer, and in the process squashed a lot of other things that don’t do any harm, don’t you think?
I have expressed skepticism before about the notion that artificial intelligence will replace lawyers. A recent article in the Arizona Law Review backs up my speculation.
It may happen eventually, but at this point, I think that chances of it happening before I’m retired or deceased are pretty slim.
ONE NEWSWORTHY ITEM FROM THE ARIZONA LEGISLATURE’S RECENT SESSION CONCERNS RESIDENTIAL LANDLORDS AND TENANTS
Now that the silly season, also known as the time when the Arizona legislature is in session, is over, we can begin to assess the good or harm done via the bills that the legislature passed and that the governor signed into law. The just-concluded session seems rather short on bills that will solve this or that monumental societal problem.
One bill signed by the governor that got some attention, but the impact of which may be narrower than it first appeared, changes the rules governing what residential landlords can and cannot do when third parties make partial rent payments on behalf of tenants. I told you it was a pretty narrow change.
If you’re involved in residential rentals, or are interested in the subject of residential landlord and tenant law for some other reason, you can read all about this legislation in my Real Estate Law Update for June. It’s posted, along with my earlier newsletters on estate planning, real estate, and tax law going back several years, in the publications section of DeConciniMcDonald.com.
I was interested to see that Los Angeles County is still doing “cash for grass,” a program to encourage removal of lawns as a water-saving measure. I wrote about that a long time ago because I was interested in the tax and land use law implications of it.
The author of the blog post linked above thinks there is irony in the fact that L.A. is paying people to remove grass while the smog there worsens. I’m no expert, but I thought the main things that make smog harmful are ozone and particulates, and I don’t think that having more green plants does anything to reduce those.
You would think that a group of billionaires would know that their request for a wealth tax should be addressed to Congress, not to candidates for president, since Congress, not the president, has to make it happen. That is, however, unless their request is really just to show everyone how virtuous they are. If that is really their goal, then why don’t they just make voluntary contributions to the U. S. Treasury?
IF YOUR PROPERTY HAS A CONSERVATION EASEMENT, OR IF YOU THINK YOUR PROPERTY MIGHT HAVE A CONSERVATION EASEMENT AND YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT IS, READ MY REAL ESTATE LAW UPDATE
I don’t think I ever posted here about my Real Estate Law Update for May. It’s about a situation in which property owners got into trouble for moving dirt and trees on their property. The got into trouble because those actions violated a conservation easement.
Don’t know what a conservation easement is? Then read the Update. You can see it in the same place where my newsletters are posted every month, in the publications section of deconcinimcdonald.com.
It’s not new, but it’s getting attention again: a proposed federal tax on every securities (stock and bond) transaction is being pushed by prominent members of Congress.
The proponents of this tax say it is intended to discourage high-frequency trading and won’t hurt the middle class. Since many, many middle class families have retirement accounts that are invested in stocks and bonds, either directly or through mutual funds, I have some questions:
Is the reinvestment of dividends inside retirement accounts going to be subject to the tax? If so, then middle class people are going to pay the tax.
Are transactions in U.S. Treasury securities going to be subject to the tax? If so, retirees who invest in those bonds will pay the tax. If not, that will skew the markets because Treasury securities will have a cost advantage.
I could think of more questions, but you get the idea. The simplistic notion that a tax on securities transactions will only hit fat cats and day traders is a lie, designed to gin up support for the tax among those who won’t think about how it will actually affect lots of people.
I’m continuing to follow the reporting in the Arizona Republic on an individual’s claim that he owns a parcel of land in downtown Tempe. I have written about it before. The story is interesting to me because it involves title to land, and because the individual's claim is based on adverse possession, a legal concept that I explained in my newsletter several years ago.
The Republic’s reporting has been pretty good, but they do seem to want to put the best face on it for the little guy who is battling city hall (and the state). No surprise there.
The war is just about over, however. The last pending case, which is the city’s action to eject the claimant from the property, was decided in the city’s favor in the Superior Court. The most recent report in the Republic says that the Court of Appeals has just affirmed that ruling. The claimant has one appeal left, to the Arizona Supreme Court.
The Court of Appeals also ruled that the city’s claim to ownership of the property is valid. The claimant admits that he has no recorded title to the land.
Stay tuned, but I don’t think this one will go more than one more round.
IT’S REALLY NO SURPRISE THAT THE TREASURY WON’T ALLOW “CONTRIBUTIONS” THAT GET STATE TAX CREDITS TO BE TREATED AS DEDUCTIBLE CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS
The Treasury has issued final regulations shutting down the so-called “workarounds" that would let taxpayers deduct as charitable contributions payments that are really in satisfaction of local tax obligations. It really isn’t a surprise, is it? It’s based on a longstanding, and simple, principle: If you get something in return for a donation, that donation doesn’t qualify for an income tax deduction.
The contents of this blog, this web site, and any writings by me that are linked here, are all my personal commentary. None of it is intended to be legal advice for your situation.