Our Team


Ben Fay


ben@jarvisfay.com | 510.238.1402

Ben Fay specializes in local government revenues, advising cities and special districts throughout California in matters concerning local taxes, fees, and assessments, including:

  • The California fiscal constitution (Article XIII and Propositions 13, 4, 62, 218, and 26)
  • Business license taxes
  • Transient occupancy taxes
  • Utility user taxes
  • Parcel taxes
  • Property tax allocation
  • Special assessments
  • Development impact fees
  • Regulatory fees
  • Fees for services
  • Appropriation limits
  • Class actions

Ben also has broad experience defending cities in lawsuits concerning municipal land use and constitutional issues, including free speech, the establishment clause, equal protection, due process, and the separation of powers doctrine.

Ben has prepared numerous amicus curiae briefs for the League of California Cities in cases concerning local government revenues, and he serves on the League’s Municipal Finance Committee. He is a regular reviewer of the Finance and Economic Development chapter of the California Municipal Law Handbook, and he has spoken to classes at UC Law San Francisco (formerly “UC Hastings College of the Law”) and the UC Davis School of Law on local government revenues.

From 2003 to 2005, he chaired the City of Oakland’s Budget Advisory Committee, and in 2003 he served on the City of Oakland’s Charter Review Committee.

Every year since 2008, Ben has been selected by Law & Politics for inclusion in its list of “Super Lawyers” in Northern California which seeks to list the top five percent of lawyers in Northern California through a process of independent evaluation and peer review.

Ben received a B.A. in anthropology from UC Berkeley in 1991 and a J.D. from UC Law San Francisco in 1995.

Published decisions in which Ben played a lead role include:

  • CSHV 1999 Harrison, LLC v. County of Alameda (2023) 92 Cal.App.5th 117 (Real Property Transfer Tax)
  • Cultiva La Salud v. State (2023) 89 Cal.App.5th 868 [Charter city powers]
  • Palmer v. City of Anaheim (2023) 90 Cal.App.5th 718 [Proposition 26 and electric utility rates]
  • Lejins v. City of Long Beach (2021) 72 Cal.App.5th 303 [Proposition 218 and water/sewer UUT]
  • City of Chula Vista v. Sandoval (2020) 49 Cal.App.5th 539 [property tax allocation]
  • City and County of San Francisco v. Regents of University of California (2019) 7 Cal.5th 536 [parking tax]
  • Russell City Energy Center Company, LLC v. City of Hayward (2017) 14 Cal.App.5th 54 [Utility user tax and Art. XIII, §31 of the California Constitution]
  • Sipple v. City of Hayward (2014) 225 Cal.App.4th 349 [utility user tax]
  • City of Scotts Valley v. County of Santa Cruz (2011) 201 Cal.App.4th 1 [property tax allocation]
  • Rental Housing Owners Assn. of Southern Alameda County, Inc. v. City of Hayward (2011) 200 Cal.App.4th 81 [rental housing inspection and the fourth amendment]
  • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. City of Turlock (E.D. Cal. 2006) 483 F.Supp.2d 987 [zoning and equal protection]
  • Traders Sports, Inc. v. City of San Leandro (2001) 93 Cal.App.4th 37 [Proposition 62 and business license tax]

Published decisions in which Ben prepared an amicus brief for the League of California Cities include:

  • Citizens for Fair REU Rates v. City of Redding (2018) 6 Cal.5th 1 [Proposition 26 and general fund transfers]
  • City of Alhambra v. County of Los Angeles (2013) 55 Cal.4th 707 [property tax administration fees]
  • City of Clovis v. County of Fresno (2013) 22 Cal.App.4th 1469 [property tax administration fees]
  • Citizens Association of Sunset Beach v. Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission(2012) 209 Cal.App.4th 1182 [Proposition 218 and annexations]
  • City of Dinuba v. County of Tulare (2007) 41 Cal.4th 859 [property tax allocation]
  • AB Cellular v. City of Los Angeles (2007) 150 Cal.App.4th 747 [Proposition 218 and telephone utility user tax]

Ben’s Presentations and Papers:

  • TNC-User Tax: Getting Rideshare Companies to Pay Their “Fare” Share Presentation and Paper: League of California Cities City Attorneys’ Department Annual Conference, 2021
  • “Finance Officer’s Guide to the Tax Measure Galaxy,” California Society of Municipal Finance Officers, Annual Conference, 2019
  • “Finance Manager’s Guide to the Tax Measure Galaxy,” League of California Cities City Manager’s Annual Department Meeting, 2018
  • “Utility Users Tax: Changes, Challenges, and Solutions,” California Municipal Revenue and Taxation Association, Annual Conference, 2017.
  • “The Demographic Effects of Proposition 13 and other Unintended Consequences,” Municipal Finance Institute, December 3, 2014.
  • “Business License Tax on Internet Companies; Transient Occupancy Tax from Online Hotel Brokers and VRBO-type Web-Based Rentals,” League of California Cities, City Attorneys’ Spring Conference, May 8, 2014.
  • “Are You Receiving All of Your Property Taxes?” Western City Magazine, January 2007.
  • “Regulating Discount Superstores: Ordinances Restricting Big Box Retailers with Grocery Departments,” League of California Cities, Annual Conference, September 17, 2004.
  • “Local Taxation of Cell Phone Companies: Why Cities Must Act Now,” California Municipal Revenue and Taxation Association, Division III, Quarterly Meeting, March 13, 2003.
  • “Local Taxation of Cell Phone Companies,” Public Law Education Series, November 21, 2002.
  • “Municipal Revenues:  Practical Insights into Ways to Protect and Enhance Municipal Revenues,” Public Law Education Series, September 26, 2002.
  • “Nexus: Do You Have the Legal Authority to Tax,” California Municipal Revenue and Taxation Association, Annual Conference, 2002.
  • “The Essential Role of Foreclosure in the Maintenance of Special Assessment Districts,Public Law Journal, Winter 2000.


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