Ask the County Law Librarian: Newspapers of Record in Sacramento

  Q. Hello, I’m trying to get a list of newspapers of record in Sacramento County for legal noticing. The court clerk told me that the county clerk certifies newspapers, but the county clerk just told me it was the court clerk.  How do I get a list? Thanks in advance, Pranav A. Hi Pranav, No definitive list of “newspapers of record” in Sacramento appears to exist. (Technically, in California they are called “newspapers of general circulation.”) In some counties, such as Santa Barbara and San Francisco, lists are available online, but Sacramento is not one of them. I can point you to a couple of helpful lists, however. The Law Library has a list of Sacramento newspapers of general circulation on our website. Our list includes contact information and pricing for a variety of papers. Our list is based on a list included in the Sacramento court’s instructions on changing your name. (Proposed name changes must be published prior to approval). The court lists newspapers of general circulation in another set of instructions as well, on service by publication in family court.  Oddly enough, the lists don’t match; the family law list only includes three papers, the Sacramento Bee, the Daily Journal, and the Daily Recorder (now owned by the Daily Journal’s parent company). The Sacramento Finance Department’s Tax and Licensing Division also publishes a list of […]

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Ask the County Law Librarian – Valet Parking Regulations

Q. Hello! I’m hoping you can help me find answer to this question. Are valet parking services allowed to prohibit parking in legal parking spaces? There is a valet parking service in town that regularly sets up signs in front a legal parking space, not a passenger loading zone. When I parked there, they told me to move my car and threatened to have it towed. I reviewed the municipal code and wasn’t able to find a clear answer, and my email to City parking services went unanswered. Is this permitted? Or am I free to park in this space? Thank you for your help. -Megan A. Valet parking services are usually in contract with one or more businesses, and they operate by using a “service zone” near the business to pick up and drop off cars, and “fixed” parking, to which the cars are driven along a pre-determined route. For issues like this, you’re correct to start off with your local city and county codes to see if they contain answers. If we look at the Sacramento City Code online, we can see that there’s an entire chapter, 10.46, in Title 10 comprised of regulations governing valet parking. According to Section 10.46.080, “valet parking operators shall not utilize on-street parking spaces, whether metered or not, for valet parking.” This clearly prohibits street parking spaces […]

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Ask the County Law Librarian – What Triggers a Prop 13 Reassessment?

Q. What triggers the assessor to reassess a property? My aunt and my mother owned a house as joint tenants. My mother added me as a joint tenant some years ago. After she passed away, that left me and my aunt as joint tenants. My aunt recently passed away. After I filed an affidavit of death of joint tenant to show that I am now the sole owner, the house was reassessed. I thought that the death of a joint tenant didn’t trigger reassessment? Johanna A. Hi Johanna, Generally speaking, joint tenancy transactions (including creation, transfer, or termination of a joint tenancy) do count as a “change in ownership” which triggers reassessment of the property, but you may qualify for an exclusion. In order to claim the exclusion, you must file a separate affidavit with the County Assessor. As you know, property taxes are based on the assessed value of the real estate. Under Proposition 13, that assessed value is determined when the property is sold or transferred, and is not changed until the property changes ownership. That assessed value is considered the property’s base year value. Usually the purchase price is used as the base year value, but if no money changes hands, or if the sales price does not reflect market value, the County Assessor will come up with a new assessment based […]

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Everyday Law: Layaway

With the holiday season fast approaching, now is a good time to think about alternative shopping options available to consumers. Layaway is an old fashioned concept that with the failing economy is making a recent comeback.  Several major stores are offering layaway options this holiday season, so it is good to be aware of the laws governing layaway transactions and the best practices that retailers should be following. According to The Free Dictionary  layaway is a payment plan in which a buyer reserves an article of merchandise by placing a deposit with the retailer and making payments until the balance is paid in full. Typically the retailer will hold and store the item in their location until the consumer completes the installment payments in full and the item is paid for including any fees. Layaway purchase plans can be a good option for those with bad credit, those who do not have or want to use credit cards, or those who may not have the cash readily available for a larger purchase. Layaway purchase plans are designed for people who want to buy products and services without using credit or paying the full price immediately. Even though there may be a small service fee, an advantage of layaway is that no interest is charged to the consumer. California Law regarding layaway practices is governed by […]

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Ask the County Law Librarian – Mobile Home Park Restrictions

Q: My son has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. He has been in a locked mental facility for the last two and a half years, but now he is ready to “move down.” I was planning on my son living with me but I live in a privately owned senior mobile home park. Can the owners of the park not allow him to live with me? The by-laws of the park says he has to register to live with me and the park managers (owners) have to give permission in a written notice. What recourse, if any, do I have if they say he can’t live with me? Thanks, Bill A: California’s Mobilehome Residency Law (Civil Code sections 798 et. seq.) governs mobilehome park rental agreements, park management, sales of mobilehomes, evictions, and a variety of mobilehome resident rights. These laws override any clauses in your rental agreement. Both Civil Code section 798.34(d) (for mobilehome parks) and section 799.9(b) (for mobilehome subdivisions and resident-owned parks) state that a senior homeowner living in a seniors-only mobilehome park may share his or her mobilehome with “any person 18 years of age or older if this person is a parent, sibling, child, or grandchild of the senior homeowner and requires live-in health care, live-in supportive care, or supervision pursuant to a written treatment plan prepared by a physician and surgeon.” No fees […]

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Ask the County Law Librarian — Homeowners Bill of Rights

Q. Hello. I submitted a loan modification application to my mortgage company on August 1. They sent me a letter on August 7 stating that the modification was “under review.” On August 20, they recorded a “notice of trustee sale.” My neighbor told me that they couldn’t do this because of some new law that protected homeowners against foreclosure. Is this true? I can’t believe they would sell my house out from under me when we’ve been talking about modifying the loan! I feel so betrayed. Please help! Molly A. Oh, Molly, I’m so sorry—that sounds awful! Depending upon the circumstances, there are a couple of new laws that might help you—California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights (HOBR) and the National Mortgage Settlement NMS). Key provisions of HBOR, Attorney General Kamela Harris’ response to the state’s foreclosure and mortgage crisis, effective January 1, 2013, include: • Restriction on dual track foreclosure: Mortgage servicers are restricted from advancing the foreclosure process if the homeowner is working on securing a loan modification. When a homeowner completes an application for a loan modification, the foreclosure process is essentially paused until the complete application has been fully reviewed. • Guaranteed single point of contact: Homeowners are guaranteed a single point of contact as they navigate the system and try to keep their homes – a person or team at the […]

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Ask the County Law Librarian – Security Deposit Maximums

Q. I was just informed that my landlord pulled a fast one on me. Is it against the law to require first and last months’ rent, a deposit, and a pet deposit? My rent is $850; the deposit is $500; plus a $450 pet deposit! Can my landlord do this? – Danielle A. The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including your definition of “pulled a fast one”! But, to answer your specific question as to whether it’s legal for a landlord to require fees at the beginning of the tenancy, which typically include the first month’s rent and a security deposit: yes, it is perfectly legal and in fact these are very common provisions in rental agreements and leases in California. In regard to the cost of rent, there’s no state or federal law that restricts the amount of rent a landlord can charge; legally, he or she can charge whatever they want, unless the premises are under the jurisdiction of local rent-control ordinances. To find out if you live in a city with rent control, you can check out the California Courts‘ list of cities with rent control. You can also contact your local housing officials or rent control board, visit your local law library, or read your city or county ordinances online. In contrast to rental rates, state laws […]

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Ask the County Law Librarian – Attorney complaints

Q: I hired a lawyer to help me with my divorce and while he was working on my case, he asked to borrow $10,000. I felt pressured to loan it to him, so I did. It has been 2 years, and he told me he has no intention of paying it back. I feel he was dishonest. How can I get his license revoked so he can’t do this to someone else? Juan A: Sorry to hear about your situation. Protecting California’s consumers is one of the primary missions of The State Bar of California . The State Bar has a limited authority to address unethical behaviors by attorneys as defined in the Rules of Professional Conduct and the State Bar Act. Licensed attorneys are bound to follow these rules if they want to remain in good standing and continue to practice law. According to the State Bar website, the” Attorney Discipline System, which takes complaints against attorneys from citizens and other sources, investigates those complaints and prosecutes attorneys against whom allegations of unethical conduct appear to be justified”. To lodge a complaint against an attorney you must mail the complaint form to the address indicated on the form. Depending on the type of offense, the penalties will vary from a warning or being unable to practice law in California. In an effort to help […]

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Everyday Law – Unmarried Father Seeks Custody or Vistation

A common question we have been getting at the reference desk lately is “How does an unmarried father get custody or visitation with his child?” The answer, as any good attorney would tell you, is “it depends.”  Has paternity been established?  If so, how?  By a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity?  Was the mother married to anyone at the time of the birth? How old is the child? Has the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) opened a Family Support case?  When we ask these questions, it is not because we are being nosy or because we are interested in your personal life (in my case, I won’t even remember your answers fifteen minutes later), it is because we want you to fill out the right set of forms so the court clerk will not reject your paperwork. There are basically three ways for an unmarried father to ask for custody of or visitation with his child, all with different requirements, advantages, and disadvantages: 1) File a Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) case; 2) File a Petition for Custody or Support; or 3) “Piggyback” on an open DCSS Family Support case. If paternity has been established, the quickest, easiest way to ask the court for custody or visitation is to “hi-jack” or “piggyback” on an open DCSS Family Support case. Either or both parents can ask their […]

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Ask the County Law Librarian – Statutory Will Form

Q: I would like to write a will, to make sure everything is taken care of if anything happens to me. I don’t have a lot of property, but as a single parent, I’m concerned about making sure I appoint someone to care for my son in the event of my death. I’ve called a few lawyers, but it is really expensive, so I think I will need to do it myself.  I found lots of forms online, but they’re all different. I want to make sure it’s legally binding, but I don’t know what’s required. Any suggestions where I can find information about this? Thanks! Craig A: You have several options, depending on the size of your estate and how you would like it distributed. If your estate is fairly simple, you may want to consider using the California Statutory Will, which is spelled out in Section 6240 of the California Probate Code. The California State Bar has uploaded this simple will form to its website, which you can download for free. This will form works well for California residents with simple estates, allowing for specific gifts of real estate, vehicles, cash, and household and personal effects. This will form also includes clauses for appointing a guardian to care for minor children, and a custodian to take control of assets left to minor children. […]

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