August 30, 2021 (LOS ANGELES) – A California Court of Appeal affirmed 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 local landfills – Bishop-Sunland, Independence and Lone Pine. Over the years, LADWP has insisted upon instituting better environmental controls at the landfills because they are unlined and pose a threat to the groundwater. The County has also received thousands of regulatory and permit violations relating to its landfill operations over the years. In 2017, the County determined it would prefer to own the land on which the landfills are located, and with it, the associated water rights. Rather than work with LADWP to find a solution to the challenging landfills, the County hastily pursued eminent domain lawsuits, which the appellate court confirmed neglected to follow CEQA. Based upon the Court’s decision, LADWP will now seek the dismissal of all three eminent domain lawsuits and reimbursement for its costs from the County.
Anselmo Collins, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager – Water System, offers the following quote in response to the appellate court ruling:
“LADWP has a longstanding partnership with Inyo County. Both before and at the Board of Supervisors’ hearing on the eminent domain actions, LADWP attempted to find several mutually agreeable solutions. All were refused and, instead, Inyo pursued unnecessary litigation, causing LADWP to incur significant costs that we will now seek to recover through the courts from Inyo. While we are disappointed this issue ended up in the courts, we are pleased with the ruling from the appellate court upholding that Inyo County cannot seize land and water rights without considering the full environmental impacts.”