A Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) 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). Statewide policy changes related to MADs are also embodied in a series of Senate Bills.
The City of San Diego locally provides for MADs through provisions of the "San Diego Maintenance Assessment District Ordinance" (Division 2, Article 5, Chapter VI beginning at Section 65.201 of the San Diego Municipal Code). The City Council also passed Council Policy 100-21 and City Council Resolutions R-288830 and R-290239. Under the provisions of these laws, the City can assess properties based on the amount of benefit each property will receive.
Each year, the City Council considers actions to approve the assessment district budget and to levy assessments. The proposed annual MAD budget is released by the Mayor not later than April 15 as part of the overall City budget. The City Council considers and approves the MAD budget as part of the City's budget process in May and June each year. Shortly thereafter (typically in June or July each year), the City Council authorizes updates to the assessment engineer's reports and approves the levying of assessments for the upcoming fiscal year.
Links to the laws referenced above are provided below:
A ballot is required to form all MADs. This is not part of an Election Day ballot. Every affected property owner receives a ballot in the mail, at the address on record with the County Assessor, and the property owner returns the ballot by mail. City Council authorizes going to ballot, and if a weighted majority of the ballots received by the City Clerk favor District formation, City Council authorizes the levy and the District is formed with the scope of services identified in the ballot. The scope of services is memorialized in the Assessment Engineer's Report. A "weighted" vote is one where the vote of a property owner whose assessment will be $2 counts twice as much as the vote of a property owner whose assessment will be $1. No matter how many or few property owners vote, if over 50% of the weighted votes received are in favor, the District can be formed.