Court Interprets Time for Filing Petition for Writ of Mandate

In Blaich v. West Hollywood Rent Stabilization Department, a landlord sought to overturn a decision of the West Hollywood Rent Stabilization Commission ("the Commission") by petition for writ of mandate (aka writ of administrative mandamus). The issue is whether the Blaichs' appeal was timely.

California Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.6 establishes time limits for judicial review of the decision of a local agency and requires a petition to be filed “not later than the 90th day following the date on which the decision becomes final.”  (§ 1094.6, subd. (b).)  If a petitioner files a request for preparation of the administrative record “within 10 days after the date the decision becomes final,” however, the time to file the petition is extended “to not later than the 30th day following the date on which the record is either personally delivered or mailed to the petitioner or his attorney of record . . . .”  (§ 1094.6, subd. (d).)  WARNING: Unlike local agency cases, the time limit for filing writ petitions in a state licensing agency cases is only 30 days. See Government Code section 11523 below.

The Blaiches filed a timely request for preparation of the administrative record, and the Commission sent the record to counsel for the Blaiches by a private overnight delivery service rather than by overnight mail through the U.S. Postal Service.  The Blaiches did not file their writ petition until 30 days after receipt.  The Commission sought to dismiss the appeal on the grounds that the Blaiches failed to file their petition within 30 days of mailing, but the Court of Appeal found that the Blaiches had 30 days from receipt because the Commission failed to use the mail. 

In conclusion, the Blaiches got lucky that the Commission hadn't simply dropped the administrative record in a mail box.

The decision was filed by the California Court of Appeal on May 16, 2011 in case number B224142 and is attached below.

California Government Code section 11523 governs appeals from state licensing agency decisions as follows:

"Judicial review may be had by filing a petition for a writ of mandate in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, subject, however, to the statutes relating to the particular agency. Except as otherwise provided in this section, the petition shall be filed within 30 days after the last day on which reconsideration can be ordered. The right to petition shall not be affected by the failure to seek reconsideration before the agency. On request of the petitioner for a record of the proceedings, the complete record of the proceedings, or the parts thereof as are designated by the petitioner in the request, shall be prepared by the Office of Administrative Hearings or the agency and shall be delivered to the petitioner, within 30 days after the request, which time shall be extended for good cause shown, upon the payment of the cost for the preparation of the transcript, the cost for preparation of other portions of the record and for certification thereof. The complete record includes the pleadings, all notices and orders issued by the agency, any proposed decision by an administrative law judge, the final decision, a transcript of all proceedings, the exhibits admitted or rejected, the written evidence and any other papers in the case. If the petitioner, within 10 days after the last day on which reconsideration can be ordered, requests the agency to prepare all or any part of the record, the time within which a petition may be filed shall be extended until 30 days after its delivery to him or her. The agency may file with the court the original of any document in the record in lieu of a copy thereof. If the petitioner prevails in overturning the administrative decision following judicial review, the agency shall reimburse the petitioner for all costs of transcript preparation, compilation of the record, and certification."

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