LADWP Board adopts Inyo ranch lease modifications

LADWP press release

Los Angeles – The City of Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners authorized the renewal of rental agreements containing new provisions for nearly 50 ranch lessees in Inyo County during its meeting on October 25. The approval marks an end to years of uncertainly for many lease holders whose ranch leases had expired.

“This action represents a great collaboration between the City of Los Angeles and the County of Inyo,” Board of Water and Power Commissioners President Mel Levine said. “Ranchers are an invaluable part of our operations in Inyo County. They assist us in caring for the land, protecting the watershed and helping to control dust. We couldn’t be successful stewards of the land without them, so this collaborative effort is a great sign of respect between the two parties.”

The new policies correct inconsistent practices between the handling of ranch leases in Inyo County and brings them into compliance with the Los Angeles City Charter, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) leasing rules, and state law (the Charles Brown Act). The ranch leases include two new transfer provisions: the first is a one-time assignment policy allowing current lessees to sell or transfer the lease one time before the lease would be offered through a competitive bidding process; the second is a family transfer policy allowing leases to transfer between designated family members without being subject to competitive bidding. Both transfer options require approval from LADWP before they can be fully executed.

In addition to these new policies, the ranch leases are now also subject to a “dry finding” processing fee to cover a portion of direct LADWP labor costs needed to evaluate a “dry finding” request. A “dry finding” determination is made when irrigation allotments were not sufficient for normal ranching operations and can result in a rent credit issued by LADWP. There is also an increase of housing rent to be consistent with housing rent in all other leases LADWP has in the Owens Valley. An additional fee which was proposed initially, the administrative fee, was removed from the final item approved by the Board as a sign of cooperation and collaboration with the Inyo County ranching community.

The ranch lease modifications have been years in the making. Following multiple meetings with the local ranching community, LADWP took the community’s concerns into account and drafted the new policy for consideration by the Board. The item passed unanimously after the Board opted to defer consideration of commercial leases and removed the proposed administrative fee.

In the coming weeks, LADWP plans to involve the approximately 150 local businesses who hold commercial leases with LADWP to partake in a similar process toward clarifying lease language and unifying lease procedures in the City of Los Angeles and Inyo County.

“We look forward to continued collaboration with the Owens Valley community as we work to revise the business lease agreement language,” LADWP General Manager David Wright said. “The Eastern Sierra region is a valuable partner in LADWP’s success, and we want to work collaboratively with our partners in the community.”

If you have questions about your lease agreement with LADWP, please contact the Real Estate Section, Leasing Group for consideration. They can be reached at (760) 873–0370 or [email protected].

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