(Ord. 1285, eff. 7/31/1998)

Sec. 4500 Purpose.

The purpose of this Chapter is to recognize and honor committed relationships, including those of lesbians and gay men who wish to identify the partners with whom they share their lives.

Sec. 4505 Definitions.

Unless a provision explicitly states otherwise, the following terms and phrases are defined as follows for purposes of this Chapter:

A.    "Domestic Partnership." "Domestic partnership" means that two individuals satisfy all of the following conditions:

1.    The individuals live together;

2.    The individuals agree to be jointly responsible for each other’s basic living expenses during the domestic partnership;

3.    Neither individual is married or is a member of another domestic partnership;

4.    The individuals are not related in a manner that would prevent them from being married to each other;

5.    The individuals are 18 years of age or older;

6.    The individuals are competent to enter a contract; and

7.    The individuals have signed a Declaration of Domestic Partnership and established their partnership under Section 4510.

B.    "Live Together." "Live together" means that two people share the same living quarters. It is not necessary that the legal right to possess the quarters be in both of their names. Two people may live together even if one or both have additional living quarters. Domestic partners do not cease to live together if one leaves the shared quarters temporarily.

C.    "Basic Living Expenses." "Basic living expenses" means the cost of food and shelter. It also includes any other expense that is a benefit either partner receives because of the partnership, such as medical bills if one partner receives health insurance through the other partner’s job.

D.    "Joint Responsibility for Basic Living Expenses." "Joint responsibility for basic living expenses" means that each partner agrees to provide for the other partner’s basic living expenses if the partner is unable to provide for himself or herself.

E.    "Declaration of Domestic Partnership." A "Declaration of Domestic Partnership" document shall be provided by the City Clerk. By signing it, two people declare, under penalty of perjury, that they have agreed to be jointly responsible for basic living expenses during the domestic partnership. They also declare that they met the other parts of the definition of domestic partnership when they signed the declaration.

Sec. 4510 Establishing a Domestic Partnership.

A.    Any person who signs a Declaration of Domestic Partnership may file it with the City Clerk. There is no limitation based on residency. All statements related to the declaration of domestic partnership shall be executed as a declaration made under penalty of perjury.

B.    A domestic partnership shall be established by:

1.    Executing a Declaration of Domestic Partnership in the presence of the City Clerk, who will file it and give the partners a certificate attesting that the Declaration was filed; or

2.    Executing a Declaration of Domestic Partnership in the presence of an individual authorized to administer oaths, and thereafter filing the Declaration with the City Clerk.

C.    Time Limitation. A person cannot become a member of a domestic partnership until at least six (6) months after any other domestic partnership of which she or he was a member ended. This does not apply if the earlier domestic partnership ended because one of the members died.

Sec. 4515 Ending Domestic Partnerships.

A.    A domestic partnership shall end when one of the following occurs:

1.    One partner sends the other written notice that he or she has ended the partnership; or

2.    One of the partners dies; or

3.    One of the partners marries; or

4.    The partners no longer live together.

Sec. 4520 Notice Ending Domestic Partnership.

A.    Notice To Domestic Partners. When a domestic partnership ends for a reason other than the death of one of its partners, at least one of the partners must execute a Notice Ending Domestic Partnership stating that the partnership has ended. The Notice must be dated, signed under penalty of perjury, and notarized. A copy of the Notice must be filed with the City Clerk, who shall attach it to the original Declaration. The person who signs the Notice must send a copy to the other partner by mail or deliver it in person.

B.    Notice To Third Parties. When a domestic partnership ends, a domestic partner who has given a copy of a Declaration of Domestic Partnership to any third party in order to qualify for any financial benefit (or, if that partner has died, the surviving member of the domestic partnership), must give that third party a notice signed under penalty of perjury stating the partnership has ended. The notice must be sent within sixty (60) days of the end of the domestic partnership.

C.    Failure to Give Notice. Failure to give either of the notices required by this subsection will neither prevent nor delay ending the domestic partnership. Anyone who suffers any loss as a result of a failure to send either of these notices may sue the partner who was obliged to send it for actual loss suffered by the failure to receive notice that the Domestic Partnership has been terminated.

Sec. 4525 New Declarations of Domestic Partnership.

No person who has filed a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the City Clerk may file another Declaration of Domestic Partnership until six (6) months after a Notice Ending Domestic Partnership has been filed. However, if the domestic partnership ended because one of the partners died, a new Declaration may be filed with the City Clerk any time after the Notice Ending Domestic Partnership is filed.

Sec. 4530 Maintenance of City Clerk’s Records.

The City Clerk will keep a record of all Declarations of Domestic Partnership, and all Notices Ending Domestic Partnership. Six months after receiving a Notice Ending Domestic Partnership, the City Clerk shall destroy the Declaration of Domestic Partnership as well as the Notice Ending Domestic Partnership.

Sec. 4535 Filing Fees.

The City Council shall fix by resolution the filing fees for Declarations of Domestic Partnership. No fee will be charged to file a Notice Ending Domestic Partnership. The fees charged must cover the City’s cost of administering this chapter.

Sec. 4540 Liability.

The City of Arcata, its officers, employees and agents including without limitation the City Clerk shall not be liable for any damages caused wholly or in part by the failure to perform, or the negligent performance of, any act required by this chapter.

Sec. 4545 Legal Effect of the Declaration of Domestic Partnership.

The legal effect of a Declaration of Domestic Partnership shall be:

A.    Obligations. The obligations of domestic partners to each other are those described in the definition.

B.    Duration of Rights and Duties. If a domestic partnership ends, the partners incur no further obligations to each other.

C.    Benefits. This chapter neither requires nor forbids anyone to provide benefits of any kind to a Domestic Partnership.

D.    Civil Actions. Any person defrauded by a false statement contained in a statement of Domestic Partnership, termination statement, or amendment statement may bring a civil action for fraud to recover his or her losses.

Sec. 4550 Visitations in Health Care Facilities.

A.    Patient Designation. Where a health care facility restricts a patient’s visitors, the health care facility shall allow said patient to designate those individuals whom the patient permits to visit unless:

1.    No visitors are allowed; or

2.    The facility determines that the presence of a particular visitor designated by the patient would endanger the health or safety of a patient or patients, or would endanger the primary operations of the facility.

B.    Patients Who Do Not Make Designations. If a patient for whom visiting is restricted has not designated permissible visitors and if said patient has not indicated that he or she wishes no visitors, the facility must allow the patient’s Domestic Partner, the children of the patient’s Domestic Partner, or the Domestic Partner of the patient’s parents or child to visit, unless:

1.    No visitors are allowed; or

2.    The facility determines that the presence of a particular visitor would endanger the health or safety of any patient or patients, or would endanger the primary operations of the facility.

C.    Health Care Facility Defined. A "Health Care Facility" is any clinic, health dispensary or health facility licensed under Division 2 of the California Health and Safety Code, any mental hospital, drug abuse clinic or detoxification center.

Sec. 4555 Severability.

If any section or sections of the ordinance is or are held to be invalid or unenforceable, all other sections shall nevertheless continue in full force and remain in effect.