university employees who purchase the improvements and sublease the land on a long-term basis (i.e., 60 years or more). Title to the land remained in the Regents ( Connolly v. Orange 1990: 1871).
Based upon Article XIII, section 3(d) of the California Constitution, the court found the possessory interests of the residents were exempt from property taxation. This section states: "[P]roperty . . . used exclusively for public schools, community colleges, state colleges, and state universities" is exempt from property taxation. The court first reviewed cases in which the exemption had been granted (for example, student parking lots, single-family residences and apartment houses leased to faculty members and students either rent-free or for a reduced rental; privately owned property leased to a school district and used exclusively for public school purposes), then distinguished the present case because the project residents had an ownership interest in the improvements on the property.
After noting that the cases in which an exemption had been allowed were based on the rationale that the exemption applies to property "not on the basis of its ownership, but on the basis of its use for a public purpose" ( Connolly v. Orange 1990: 1875), the court found the exemption appropriate because the property was being used exclusively for the school's educational objectives by providing low-cost housing to state university faculty members because this assists the university in hiring and retaining competent faculty ( Connolly v. Orange 1990: 1876).
The case arose out of a request by the taxpayer for a writ of mandate to compel the county to refund the taxes collected. Unfortunately for the taxpayer, the Court of Appeal reversed the granting of the writ by the trial court, stating that mandate did not lie to compel the county to perform the assessor's obligations, which were prescribed by statute: "Although an assessor is a county officer (Gov. Code, section 24000(j)), and an agent of the county when conducting tax assessments for it [citation], that does not mean plaintiffs can compel the County to perform his obligations" ( Connolly v. Orange 1990: 1878). The court found that the county had no duty to consider an exemption claim until a timely claim was filed.
Finally, the court stated that the taxpayers had an adequate remedy at law under Revenue and Taxation Code section 5096, et seq. and 5140, el seq. (providing a procedure to obtain tax refunds by order of the board of supervisors), concluding that no multiplicity of lawsuits was likely.
While a substantial proportion of the cases discussed herein involve California decisions and statutes, many of the problems described are not limited to that state. The discussion relating to the validity of California's Proposition 13 pursuant to which Article XIIIA of the California Constitution was enacted may foreshadow the effects of similar legislation in other states if the U.S. Supreme Court does not sustain the Nordlinger position. It should be noted, however, that legislation similar to