Contreras Farms Ltd. v. City of Phoenix – 10/29/2019

December 2, 2019

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One holds that property owners may not pursue exaction appeals under A.R.S. § 9-500.12 in response to a determination that a water main must be built under Phoenix City Code § 37-33(a).

A city determined that a property owner was required to build a water main extension under Phoenix City Code § 37-33(a) on the streets bounding a new development.  Objecting to the city’s determination, the property owner requested an administrative appeal under A.R.S. § 9-500.12.  The city refused to provide one.  The property owner filed a special action seeking a declaration it was entitled to an appeal, as well as damages.  The city moved for summary judgment on the grounds that it lacked discretion, and therefore its determination could not be appealed.  The superior court granted the motion.

The Court of Appeals affirmed.  A.R.S. § 9-500.12 allows property owners the right to an administrative appeal whenever a city or town requires “an [n] exaction as a condition of granting approval for the use, improvement, or development of real property.”  An exception exists, however, and there is no right to an appeal if the exaction is required by a “legislative act” that “does not give discretion to the administrative agency or official to determine the [exaction’s] nature or extent.”  Id.  Phoenix City Code § 37-33(a) is a legislative act under the statute because all city ordinances are legislative acts.  The code requires that a developer install water mains on streets bounding a development, regardless of whether they are used, and does not allow the city’s officials any discretion on this issue.  Therefore, the city’s determinations under the code fall within the exception, and property owners have no right to appeal.

Presiding Judge Brown delivered the unanimous opinion of the court.  Judge Jones and Judge Winthrop joined.