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Lawsuit tossed, environmentalists vow to fight on

Posted: November 11, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 11, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Local environmentalists who saw their lawsuit challenging the purchase of Valencia Water Company tossed out recently say they are pressing ahead with their opposition to the controversial deal and are re-evaluating the situation.

“I’m not sure what the next move is,” said Ron Bottroff, spokesman for Friends of the Santa Clara River, which joined with Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment in the lawsuit. “It would take a lot of looking into.”
In January, SCOPE filed a lawsuit contesting the legality of the purchase of Valencia Water Company, a retailer, by the Castaic Lake Water Agency, the Santa Clarita Valley’s water wholesaler.

On Oct. 31, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin sustained Castaic Lake’s motions to dismiss SCOPE’s claims that its acquisition of Valencia Water Company stock violated the California Environmental Quality Act.

“This ruling clearly and unequivocally validates that the agency’s acquisition of Valencia Water Company complied with both environmental and eminent domain law,” said Tom Campbell, president of Castaic Lake’s board of directors, in a news release.

“SCOPE has often argued against a developer’s ownership of Valencia Water Company,” he said. “By all rights, SCOPE should now drop this ill-advised lawsuit in its entirety because, one, the judge has determined there is not valid environmental basis for it, and, two, it is attempting to deny our community the benefit of local public ownership provided by this acquisition.”

Bottroff, however, told The Signal Thursday his group plans to pursue the issue at the next scheduled court appearance slated for Jan. 20, 2014.

“We just need time to take a closer look at it,” he said.

In its news release explaining the details of Judge Lavin’s decision, Castaic Lake reported that:
“The court ruled that SCOPE’s CEQA claims were not filed in a timely manner, 30 days beyond the statue of limitations for these matters.

“Further, the court held that SCOPE did not have standing to challenge the agency’s resolution adopted in a public meeting on Dec. 12, 2012, to condemn the Valencia Water Company stock, which was separately approved by the Superior Court of California on Dec. 18, 2012.”
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