California (San Diego) — Changed F...

California (San Diego) — Changed Final Salary Calculation, Increased Employee Contribution, Plan Conversion

Posted by Leila Walsh in - -View All States - - on May 22, 2014 with No Comments

Ballot initiative:

Proposition B (June 2012)

Type of reform:

The law froze pay levels used to determine final average pay, required a defined contribution plan for most new employees, and required substantially equal contributions from employees and employers.


  1. San Diego Municipal Employees Association v. City of San Diego, No. LA-CE-746-M, California Public Employees Relations Board (June 19, 2012)
  2. Public Employment Relations Board v. City of San Diego, No. 37-2012-00092205-CU-MC-CTL, San Diego Superior Court, Judge Luis R. Vargas (filed Feb. 14, 2012)

Status of litigation: 

On July 10, 2012, Judge Darlene Vargas of the Superior Court issued a temporary restraining order requiring a “temporary delay” in implementing the pension ballot initiative. Then, on July 31, 2012, Judge Vargas lifted the order and rejected a preliminary injunction against the ballot measure.

Judge Vargas held that injunctive relief requires the court to determine that it is “just and proper” to interfere with the law. The court chose to exercise discretion to deny relief because “traditional equitable considerations now weigh in favor of the voters, the city of San Diego and of a proper and orderly implementation of the [pension measure].”  The court found that the city’s meet and confer obligations had been met, and it could begin implementing the reform measure.

Following the decision by the Superior Court in July of 2012, voters approved Prop B by a two-thirds majority.  However, the challenge before the California Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) continued, on the grounds that city management had failed to satisfy the “meet and confer” obligations under the Meyers Milias Brown Act (MMBA) prior to enacting Prop B. 

On Dec. 29, 2015, in a decision written by member Banks, and joined by members Winslow and Huguenin, the California PERB issued a decision (affirming the prior decision of Administrative Law Judge Donn Ginoza) ordering the City of San Diego to reinstate the traditional pension and to retroactively reimburse employees for the value of lost compensation and pension benefits. The city is also required to pay 7 percent interest for any losses incurred since Prop B took effect and to cover the cost of attorneys’ fees.

The San Diego City Council voted on Jan. 12, 2016, to appeal the PERB’s ruling.


On Jan. 25, 2016, the appeal was docketed as San Diego v. Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) in the Fourth Appellate District, Division 1, as case no. D069630.  The case is linked to appeal Boling v. PERB, case no. D069626.  In Boling v. PERB, the PERB filed a request for dismissal on January 29.

In San Diego v. PERB, the PERB filed a request for dismissal of Boling, Zane, and Williams as real parties in interest. (Catherine Boling, T.J. Zane, and Stephen B. Williams were not parties in the lower administrative proceeding, but were proponents of Proposition B and filed briefs in support of the city’s exceptions.) On February 4, the Deputy City Attorneys’ Association filed a joinder to the motion to dismiss. PERB filed a reply in support of its motion to dismiss on February 19. On February 22, the City of San Diego filed an opposition to the motion to dismiss.

Similarly, in the Boling v. PERB case, the Deputy City Attorneys’ Association filed a joinder to the motion to dismiss.  On February 16, Boling filed an opposition to the motion to dismiss, to which the City of San Diego filed a joinder on February 17.  Also on February 17, PERB filed a reply in support of its motion to dismiss.

In both cases, PERB filed the certified record on April 4, 2016.

On March 9, the appellate court filed an order stating that the respondents’ motions to dismiss would be considered concurrently with the writs of extraordinary relief and that the parties may address the issue of standing in their respective briefs.

The petitioners filed opening briefs on May 9, 2016, in both cases. In the Boling case (D069626), the respondents sought an extension of time to respond and the Petitioners filed an opposition to the extension. Boling also requested judicial notice and leave to produce additional evidence.

On May 23, the court granted (in both cases) the opposed motions for an extension of time filed by PERB and the real parties in interest. PERB and the real parties in interest have an extension of 30 days to file their briefs and the application to file oversized briefs was granted.  In the Boling case, the court also denied Boling’s request for judicial notice and leave to produce additional evidence.  The responsive briefs are due July 13, 2016.

In San Diego v. PERB, on June 13, respondents Boling, Zane, and Williams filed a responsive brief.

In Boling v. PERB, on June 13, the city of San Diego filed a joinder to the petitioners’ opening brief.

On July 12 and 13, 2016, PERB filed reply briefs in Boling v. PERB and San Diego v. PERB respectively.  Similarly, the San Diego Municipal Employees Association, Deputy City Attorneys Association, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 127 and San Diego City Firefighters Local 145 filed joint reply briefs in both cases on July 13, 2016.

The petitioners in both cases filed reply briefs on Aug. 8, 2016.  On August 17, the court entered an order in both cases holding that a summary denial of the cases was not warranted, and it would let a writ of review issue.  Further, the court stated that anyone who wishes to have oral argument must submit a request before Sept. 1, 2016. Absent a request for oral argument, the court will deem argument waived and the case will be submitted for decision.

Several parties filed requests on August 22 to appear as amici and file amicus briefs. Parties include the San Diego Taxpayers Educational Foundation, the Pacific Legal Foundation, and the League of California Cities in support of petitioner City of San Diego.  The San Diego Police Officers Association filed a request to appear as an amicus in support of Real Parties in Interest, the San Diego Municipal Employees Association, Deputy City Attorneys Association, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 127 and San Diego City Firefighters, Local 145, IAFF, AFL-CIO.

On October 18, the appellate court granted the applications of the San Diego Taxpayers’ Educational Foundation, the League of California Cities, and Pacific Legal Foundation to file amicus briefs and deemed the briefs filed as of the date of the order.  The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the National Tax Limitation Committee also filed amicus briefs. The court denied the amicus application of the San Diego Police Officers’ Association. All responses must be filed within 20 days.

The respondents and real parties in interest responded to the amicus briefs on Nov. 7, 2016.  On December 19, amicus San Diego Taxpayers Educational Foundation filed a request to present oral argument. The court denied the request. 

On March 17, 2017, the parties argued the cause before the appellate court.

On April 11, 2017, in an opinion written by Presiding Justice Judith McConnell (with concurrence from Associate Justices Richard Huffman and Gilbert Nares), the appellate court annulled the PERB decision.  Specifically, the appellate court held that because Proposition B was put on the ballot through private initiative with the requisite signatures, it was not a city council-sponsored measure that required the proponents to “meet and confer” with union representatives. The court held that the plaintiffs had no right to hold up the voter referendum and remanded the matter to PERB with direction to dismiss the complaints and order any other appropriate relief consistent with the appellate court’s opinion.

Petitioners Boling, Zane, and Williams filed a petition for review in the Supreme Court on May 19, 2017. The San Diego Municipal Employees Association, as a real party in interest, filed a second petition for review on the same day.  The Public Employment Relations Board filed a third petition for review on May 22. PERB and the petitioners filed answers to the cross petitions on June 8 and 9.  The City of San Diego filed an answer to the petition for review on June 12. Several union associations filed requests for de-publication of the appellate court’s decision as well.

In their answers, PERB and the petitioners request that the Supreme Court overturn the lower court’s decision because the city should have negotiated with the unions prior to going forward with Proposition B. The city argues that it was not obligated to negotiate because the proposal was initiated by the public, not the city.

On June 19, 2017, petitioners Boling, Zane, and Williams filed an opposition to the de-publication request, and Boling filed a reply to the answer to the petition.

Also on June 19, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO Local 127 filed a petition to file a combined answer, and an answer as real parties in interest.

On July 26, 2017, the California Supreme Court granted the petition for review. Briefing on the issues raised by the petitioners is deferred pending further order of the Court. The Court denied the requests for depublication of the lower court’s opinion. On Aug. 1, 2017, PERB requested an extension of time until September 8 to file the opening brief on the merits. On August 7, the Court granted the extension.

Relevant documents: 

Additional documents available here

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