It doesn’t matter whether your mechanics lien claim is for just $300, the small claims courts in California (and most everywhere else) simply do not have the jurisdiction to enforce mechanic lien claims.
This fact is unfortunate for a lot of California mechanics lien claimants, because the costs of proceeding in Superior Court can be expensive. Not only are the filing fees higher, but if you’re a business entity, you may also be restricted from representing yourself and required to hire an attorney. This is not to mention that Superior Court proceedings take longer and are more sophisticated.
I was actually contacted by a state legislators’ offices this week to offer ideas on how to make the mechanics lien process more user-friendly for small contractors, and one of my suggestions was precisely this: to give small claims courts the jurisdiction to foreclose on mechanic lien claims when they are of little value. Otherwise, the foreclosure — while potentially paying off in the end, including attorney fees — becomes complex and maybe more burdensome than necessary.
For now, however, in California, you must file your mechanics lien foreclosure action in Superior Court.