The Writ is Wrought
Now, it remains to be seen if a real judge will review the RWQCB’s Torquemada’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party CDO Hearings and decide if the i’s were dotted properly and the t’s crossed correctly.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE---------
Gail McPherson, PZLDF
Deadline Looms for Los Osos Property Owners Seeking Enforcement Relief .
Sullivan & Associates has filed an appeal in Superior Court seeking enforcement relief. Those listed in lawsuit include 20 individuals, as well as the Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund, and the Los Osos Community Services District.
The deadline for filing the writ in superior court is May 25, or parties will lose their opportunity to challenge the conditions and consequences in the enforcement orders against their homes.
Battle weary after 1 1/2 years of water board's unprecedented enforcement effort against individual properties, "the last thing homeowners want is to go through more expense, time and hearings." says Gail McPherson, spokesperson for the Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund."But they have no choice if they want to preserve their civil rights, property rights, and right to an un-coerced vote."
The Regional Water Board prosecution staff has expended hundreds of thousands in public monies against the first handful of residents, and planned to apply an expedited process to 4400 more properties. The Notice of violation was sent in April to all businesses and properties even though they have legally permitted and properly functioning septic tanks.
In June 2006 the County began steps to assume control of the community sewer project under special legislation AB 2701.
The County letter sent a letter ahead of the May 10 water board meeting asking the prosecution staff to rethink their approach, concerned the enforcement was counter-productive and a distraction to delivering a project, and a successful assessment vote.
The Regional Board members expressing similar concerns at their May 10th 2007 meeting. Board members Daniel Press, Russell Shellcross and John Hayashi questioned the wisdom of orders requiring the passage of the 218 vote, the excessive mandatory fines, and water code statutes that seemed meant for industry ill applied to individuals. These Water Board members noted Los Osos residents demonstrated a growing community reconciliation under the county led efforts for a sewer project.
While water board members gave the prosecution staff many indications that enforcement should be suspended and the orders in place rescinded, the board issued two more Cease and Desist Orders the same day. By the end of the meeting the water board said they wanted to consider ending the enforcement possibly as early as July, after hearing from the County.
The turn toward better relationships was apparent from board feedback, but homes and businesses still face significant threats from enforcement.
In a mixed message Chairman Young and the prosecution Attorney Reed Sato informed the other board members and community that retroactive fines, from as far back as 1988, could be levied in addition to those in the order.
Besides requiring a successful 218 vote, the orders could lead to $5000 a day in fines if the sewer is not built by 2011. "The only options left to property owners could be to build their own onsite sewer, pay fines, or vacate their homes." according to Gail McPherson, spokesperson for the Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund.
The water board prosecution staff confirmed they can mail out orders without the need for hearings as well.
The appeal requests that all enforcement Cease and Desist Orders, as well as settlements that are Clean up and Abatement orders are vacated, and that the water board discontinue individual enforcement actions against properties in Los Osos.
“We are actively encouraging cooperation with the water board. However, because no action was taken to vacate the orders that are in place, or halt enforcement we must move forward before the filing deadline expires." Said McPherson. "In so doing, we hope to protect individuals’ property as well as the greater community from enforcement, and also guard the County process and the 218 vote for the project.”
For More information on the Petition for review, the Writ of Mandate, and other enforcement information is available on line at http://www.pzldf.org/
Citizens for Clean Water –PZLDF holds weekly meetings open to the public on Monday’s at 7:00 PM at Washington Mutual Bank in Los Osos.
For more information please contact PZLDF.org or call 528-8408
Sullivan & Associates
Supervisor Bruce Gibson
Water Board Contacts :
Director, Office of Enforcement
State Water Resources Control Board
CCRWQCB Prosecution Team
CCRWQCB Board Chairman
(via Michael Thomas)