April 1, 2022 (LOS ANGELES) – On March 18, 2022, the Kern County Superior Court ruled that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is entitled to recover $654,460.33 in costs and attorneys’ fees from its lawsuit with Inyo County to compensate LADWP for upholding the public interest. This ruling follows a 2021 Appellate Court finding that the Inyo County Board of Supervisors violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in its attempt to seize City of Los Angeles land and water rights through eminent domain without conducting any environmental review.
Historically, LADWP has leased land to Inyo County to operate three landfills – the Bishop-Sunland, Independence, and Lone Pine Landfills – all of which are unlined and pose a threat to surface and groundwater, and have received thousands of violations over the years.
In 2017, the County determined it wanted to own the land on which it operates the landfills, and with it, the associated water rights. Rather than work with LADWP to find a solution to the challenging landfills, the County hastily initiated eminent domain proceedings, which the Appellate Court confirmed neglected to follow CEQA. As required by court order, Inyo County has rescinded all three resolutions authorizing the use of eminent domain.
Anselmo Collins, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager of Water System, provided the following statement regarding the Superior Court’s decision:
“While we were disappointed that this issue ended up in the courts after our repeated attempts to avoid unnecessary litigation and help Inyo County bring the landfills into compliance, we are pleased with the court’s finding and order to compensate LADWP and its ratepayers for the time and resources expended to prosecute this action. However, these fees only recover a portion of what LADWP was forced to spend to protect the public and environment and ultimately win this wholly avoidable case.”
Thank God for our top-notch eastern Sierra governments and agencies. Without them, how would people in L.A. keep making money off us in court?
This bodes well for DWP public relations in the Eastern Sierra once again, not. $655,000 divided by 20,000 folks in Inyo County is $32.75 apiece. A valid complaint is that the LADWP continues to get over on the folks and the environment of the Eastern Sierra. Isn’t it ironic that… Read more »
Karma bites. This what Inyo County gets for stealing my suggestion that it use eminent domain to acquire the LADWP land upon which the County operates its landfills. I made it in good faith – via an 1/17/17 email to former Inyo County CAO Kevin Carunchio – in an attempt… Read more »
Sounds like you are partially responsible then for failing to outline a fail-safe process for success.
Thank you Mateo, for allowing me to clarify, as I was worried I had left that impression. I would first point out that since Inyo County never even acknowldged my email, I couldn’t very well do what you criticize me for not doing – I first read about the County… Read more »
Hi Allan, my sincere gratitude for providing a very excellent and thorough analysis of eminent domain and CEQA, and specifically where the County botched it. May qualify as the single most valuable response ever put on the internet. Valuable to our reps, valuable to our public.
Much as I really hate to say it, they’re right.
Did the board of sups not consult county counsel???