Lease-Leaseback Fight Continues

Glasses lying on residential lease agreement

Can a construction firm provide pre-construction services and perform construction, or is doing both an impermissible conflict of interest under the Lease-Leaseback Law?

June 1, 2020
Garret Murai - California Construction Law Blog

It’s like the rematch between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed.

In the right corner we have the California Taxpayers Action Network. In the left corner, Taber Construction, Inc. The title in contention: Construction of California’s Lease-Leaseback Program and, specifically, whether a construction firm can provide both pre-construction services as well as perform construction or, whether doing so, would be an impermissible conflict of interest under the Lease-Leaseback Law.

In their first appellate court match, California Taxpayers Action Network argued that a lease-leaseback arrangement between Taber Construction and the Mount Diablo Unified School District, whereby the District agreed to lease the site to Taber Construction one dollar (which is permissible) and to pay Taber a “guaranteed project cost” of $14,743,395 comprised of “tenant improvement payments” totaling $13,269,057 prior to the District taking delivery of the project (which was the issue in dispute) and six “lease payment amount[s]” of $345,723 plus interest paid in 30-day intervals, violated the Lease-Leaseback Law because the bulk of the payments by the District to Taber Construction occurred during construction rather than during the lease-term which could only “truly” occur after the District took delivery of the project. The 1st District Court of Appeal sided with Taber Construction, and in doing so created an appellate court split with the 5th District Court of Appeal’s decision in Davis v. Fresno Unified School District, 237 Cal.App.4th 261 (2015), which held that contractor who received all payments prior to turnover of the project to the district violated the Lease-Leaseback Law.

Mr. Murai may be contacted at gmurai@nomosllp.com



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