Citizens Against New Local Taxes  (CANLT)

About Us

Citizens Against New Local Taxes (CANLT) was founded in 1994 by a group of concerned taxpayers in the city of Agoura Hills, California.

We believe there is great truth in the old saying, "All politics is local".    Change often of necessity must start from the "bottom up" -- at our local levels -- where we individuals have the most possibility of effecting real change.   We need to be eternally vigilant.   Sometimes just a few, but persistent, people really can make a real difference. 

We believe we need to hold our government accountable for the waste, mismanagement and often outright abuse of the precious tax dollars we taxpayers already pay.   We want to make a positive difference, not only for our own sakes -- for the sake of principle and for what is right, just, and fair -- but also for the sake of future generations that will include our children and our children's children, for what the future will bring if the present is left unchecked.


In 1994, the City of Agoura Hills imposed a utility users tax, without allowing city voters to vote on the tax.  Local residents founded CANLT to oppose the tax.  A lengthy legal battle ensued. 

On November 5, 1996, California voters approved Proposition 218, an initiative designed to give taxpayers the right to approve or reject local governments' tax increases and special assessments on property. Proposition 218, principally sponsored by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, closed many existing loopholes under Proposition 13 and Proposition 62 which have allowed local governments to burden residents with property-related assessments, fees and charges. Proposition 218 also expanded the 1995 state Supreme Court ruling (Santa Clara County Local Transportation Authority v. Guardino) that upheld Proposition 62's voter approval requirements.  

After the passage of Proposition 218, the City of Agoura Hills finally placed its Utility Users Tax onto the ballot.  Several CANLT leaders wrote the ballot argument against the tax, and Agoura Hills voters finally defeated the tax.  After the tax was defeated by voters, CANLT pressed for the City to return the money to the taxpayers, but only a small percentage was returned to taxpayers due to a cumbersome refund request procedure implemented by the city.

CANLT remains as a group of concerned taxpayers who continue to monitor existing and proposed new local taxes.

For more information, email us at or use the contact form on the "Contact Us" page on this site.




  • 1994: The Agoura Hills City Council imposed a Utility Users Tax without voter approval.
  • CANLT formed to oppose the tax. Agoura Hills Residents Oppose Proposed Utility Tax (Los Angeles Times)
  • CANLT launched a recall, and filed a lawsuit to restore wrongly-stricken signatures.
  • Proposition 218 passes in California
  • CANLT sought help from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the Pacific Legal Foundation, and forced the City of Agoura Hills to place the tax on the ballot.
  • Meanwhile, the City of Agoura Hills collected several million dollars from a 4 percent utility users tax. CANLT analyzed city income and expenditures, and published various information, including this flyer showing that Agoura Hills City Staff salaries had skyrocked 67% between 1988/89 and 1993/94, and that salaries & estimated benefits combined had skyrocketed 74% during the same six-year period, while neither population growth nor economic growth were commensurate to justify these huge increases. 
  • Further, Oak Park, CA (Ventura County) residents mistakenly had to pay ATT 1994 Agoura Hills Utility Tax.  CANLT later identified and proved that even residents outside the city limits in another county were charged the Agoura Hills utility users tax, because at that time Oak Park shared the same zip code as Agoura Hills, and the utility company claimed it mistakenly collected the tax based on zip code.
  • CANLT wrote the ballot argument against the tax.
  • Voters defeated the tax.
  • CANLT filed suit to force the city to provide refunds. New Lawsuit Filed Over 1994 Agoura Hills Utility UsersTax (Los Angeles Times)
  • The City of Agoura Hills returned only a small portion, only about $360,000, of the several million dollars of the tax it collected, through a burdensome and restrictive refund request policy it established.


Byline: Barbara Murphy Special to the Daily News

Agoura Hills residents will vote June 25 on the controversial utilities taxes - electric, gas and telephone - enacted in June 1994 in violation of Proposition 62.

Only after recent Supreme Court rulings and a threatened lawsuit from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is our council finally giving taxpayers their rightful vote.

Rather than use regularly scheduled elections, our council maneuvered a costly single-issue special election, when expected low voter turnout might favor passage. They even seek retroactive approval to avoid paying refunds they may owe you. Their annual report admits: ``. . . A court may rule that the city must return the utility users' tax…


Debate Continues on Repealed Utility Tax
July 4, 1996 | By SYLVIA L. OLIANDE
As the Agoura Hills City Council voted to rescind its utility users tax in response to the levy's defeat in a special election last week, some residents applauded the move, while others stood up to support the tax, urging the council to reintroduce it for the November election. At the council's meeting Tuesday night, opponents of the tax called the defeat a "vote of no confidence" against council members and asked for a reimbursement of taxes paid during the two years the tax was on the books.

New Lawsuit Filed Over an Old Tax

Assessments: Agoura Hills repealed the utility levy and returned some funds, but 163 plaintiffs seek $2.2 million in additional refunds.

October 09, 1998|SUE FOX

Since 1994, when Agoura Hills imposed a 4% utility tax on residents, the city has struggled with opposition to the tax.

The city repealed the tax after voters rejected it in a 1996 special election and last year it refunded part of the money collected.   ......


Byline: R.A. Hutchinson Daily News Staff Writer

City leaders took their first look earlier this week at a scaled-back spending plan that reflects the loss of $1.5 million a year in utilities tax revenue taken away by voters last month.

About $1.2 million in street repairs and park improvements originally proposed for 1996-97 would be eliminated under the city's $6.03 million budget plan for the fiscal year, presented at Tuesday's City Council meeting. Other cuts include the elimination of a part-time position in the accounting department, a $50,000 allocation for extra law enforcement time, and a proposed youth
Outreach is an effort by an organization or group to connect its ideas or practices to the efforts of other organizations, groups, specific audiences or the general public.  program.

The Community Services Department suffers least in the proposed budget, largely because of $1.4 million in Proposition A park money from
Los Angeles (lôs an`j?l?s, los, an`j?lez'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850.  County allocated for the construction of a community center to be shared by Agoura Hills and Calabasas.     ...

The Acorn, June 27, 2002

Voters to decide utility tax in November or March of 2003

Acorn Staff Writer
By Michael Picarella

The utility tax in Calabasas will be put to a popular vote.

A recent petition drive successfully met legal requirements, the Calabasas City Council confirmed during its meeting last week. Voters will decide whether the utility surcharge tax will continue.

Calabasas residents have paid a 5 percent utility user tax on gas, electric and telephone utilities since the city incorporated in 1991. Some residents oppose it. The tax was included as part of the vote to incorporate as a city; a vote for cityhood also was a vote for the utility tax.

Proponents of the repeal drive and former city council challengers Marcus Allen Frishman and Karmen Brower organized the petition drive. They obtained enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot. On May 28, the registrar recorder county clerk verified the petition drive.

Of 505 signatures received, 402 were confirmed as valid. The 103 remaining signatures were thrown out, sources said, for reasons not provided, but citizens who signed their names must have been registered voters and in this case, residents of Calabasas. To call for a repeal vote, 5 percent of the voters who participated in the last gubernatorial election—which is 280 in Calabasas—must have signed the petitions.

The petition drive also had a time limit, but all the legal deadlines were met, according to L.A. County officials.

The council was to have decided last week if the utility tax repeal would appear on next November’s or the March 2003 ballot, but councilmembers delayed that decision until the Wed., July 3 meeting at city hall.

City Councilman Dennis Washburn asked city attorney Charles Vose at the Wed., June 19 meeting if the council had any grounds to fight the repeal vote. Vose said no, they didn’t.

Washburn expressed concern that the city might be forced to curtail services if the tax is repealed.

Calabasas will receive an estimated $2.5 million from the utility user tax this year or 17 percent of the city’s general funds, according to Calabasas Finance Director Cindy Borchard.

Washburn said in a previous interview that the utility tax revenue is critical for city parks and recreational services, road repair and public safety.

But if the tax is repealed, according to Frishman, the council will be forced to act more fiscally responsible. Calabasas residents who oppose the tax, Frishman said, are confident that councilmembers can trim some fat.

Calabasas isn’t the first city to experience a utility user tax repeal.

The city of Agoura Hills collected $2.6 million from a 4 percent utility tax from 1994 to 1995, and refunded $360,000 following a 1996 vote that overturned the tax. Agoura Hills voters also defeated a business utility tax in 1997.

Agoura Hills Mayor Denis Weber said the lack of utility tax dollars has forced Agoura Hills councilmembers to look at every dime they spend. There’s a lot of skimping, he said.

"We can’t always do what we want to do, when you want to do it," Weber said. Many residents would love to have more parks, he said, but the money just isn’t there.

Weber doesn’t think Agoura Hills residents have suffered, he said, but they don’t enjoy all of the amenities of adjacent cities.

"We’re always playing catch up to all of our neighbors," Weber said.


Byline Sonia Giordani, Daily News Staff Writer

Looking for ways to finance street projects and other improvements, city officials are pushing for a utility tax on local businesses - a ballot measure that company owners say will drive them out of town.

If approved by voters on Nov. 4, Measure D would tack 3 percent onto the phone, electric and gas bills of more than 1,500 businesses. The tax would raise more than $700,000 a year to help fund road repairs and maintenance, law enforcement and parks and recreation programs, city officials said.

``This tax is designed for the general welfare of the city,'' said City Councilman Dan Kuperberg, who sat on a budget committee that recommended the tax election.

But local business owners say the tax could ultimately drive some companies away and keep new businesses from moving in.



March 2011
City of Agoura Hills plans a 'cooperative project between the "Agoura Hills Redevelopment Agency (AHRDA) and the Las Virgenes Unified School District (LVUSD) to build low-to-moderate income "Fountain Place Villas - Educator Townhomes" prioritized specifically for LVUSD employees (not the general public) on vacant, LVUSD-owned land onsite at Agoura High School.  


->See Navigation Box at upper right for more information about these "Proposed LVUSD Townhomes".


October 2010
Las Virgenes Unified School District (LVUSD) has apparently decided not to attempt a second Parcel Tax in 2010, but stay tuned:  it will likely attempt another such tax in 2011.

->See Navigation Box at upper right for more information about LVUSD.
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