NEEDLES — The city of Huntington Beach asked the city of Needles for a letter supporting its petition for the California Supreme Court to review the City of Huntington Beach v. Xavier Becerra et al.
“The city of Huntington Beach has asked other charter cities to submit a letter of support in the case of Huntington Beach v. Becerra,” said John Pinkney, city attorney. “In that case, the city of Huntington Beach challenged SB54.”
Pinkney said that SB54 was the law that prohibited California Law Enforcement from cooperating with immigration officials.
“The city of Needles, I think, was one of the first cities to opt out in complying with that requirement proposed by the state,” said Pinkney.
City staff in the background information provided some history regarding the case.
On Jan. 10, Division Three of the 4th District Court of Appeals held that: Chartered cities are not exempt from California’s “sanctuary state” statute barring local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal agents in cracking down illegal immigration.
Acting Presiding Justice Richard D. Flybel wrote the opinion which upholds Government Code 7284.6, a portion of the California values Act, enacted in 2017 as SB54.
That section bars law enforcement agencies from using monies or personnel to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes.
Background information continues, rejecting the contention of the city of Huntington Beach that the constitutional provision in its absolute home rule over its police department, Flybel declared:
“Home rule authority under article XI, section 5 of The California Constitution does not mean charter cities can never be subject to state laws that concern or regulate municipal affairs,” the ruling said.
Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates released a statement saying that the Court of Appeal, “incorrectly subordinates and subjects rights expressly provided by the California Constitution to charter cities to a judicially created test.”
“If this fight for constitutional rights does not continue here and in other cities, then the state will eventually literally be able to dictate every aspect of local governance, which would render local governance pointless,” Gates said.
Pinkney said that the California Supreme Court does not have to grant a review and can leave the Appellate Court ruling as is.
Councilor Shawn Gudmundson asked that if the city supported this — he said he was in full support — would there be a possibility that the city could get drawn into litigation with the state or potential loss of funding or revenue from the state?
“Not that I’m aware of,” said Pinkney.
“This is just expressing the importance of the issue to the Supreme Court from another charter city that is not partied with that lawsuit,” he said.
The city council approved to sign a letter supporting the City of Huntington Beach.
Some of the key points in the letter state that the City of Needles is also a charter city and its charter has expressly reserved to the City of Needles the full extent of the authority granted to charter cities under the California Constitution.
The issue presented is an important unsettled question of law that affects the fundamental division of power between home rule charter cities and the state legislature…
The Court of Appeal’s opinion in this case, similarly, necessarily erodes the home rule authority of charter cities, and it will embolden the state legislature to increasingly encroach on charter cities’ exclusive home rule authority.
However, this court may decide the matter on the merits, a review is necessary to provide clarity to the lower courts, the state legislature and the charter cities’ about the scope of charter cities’ home rule authority and the appropriate test to apply when a stat law encroaches on a matter expressly committed to charter cities.