Earlier, we wrote about Davis v. Fresno United School District (2015) 237 Cal.App.4th 261, a Fifth District California Court of Appeals decision that sent shock waves through the school construction industry and raised questions regarding the use of California’s lease-leaseback method of project delivery (Education Code sections 17400 et seq.).
California’s lease-leaseback method of project delivery provides an alternative project delivery method for public school districts than the usual design-bid-build method of project delivery. Under the lease-leaseback method of project delivery, a school district leases its property to a developer, who in turn builds a school facility on the property and leases it back to the school district. One of the benefits of the lease-leaseback method of project delivery is that school districts do not need to come up with construction funds to build school facilities since they pay for the construction over time through their lease payments to the developer. Critics, however, argue that because lease-leaseback projects do not need to be competitively bid, they are ripe for cronyism between developers and school districts.
In Davis, a taxpayer successfully brought suit against the Fresno Unified School District challenging the propriety of a lease-leaseback project because the entirety of the District’s “lease payments” occurred while the project was being constructed and thus, successfully argued the taxpayer, there was no “true” lease of a facility since it was under construction.