The case arose out of the Board of Supervisors’ approval of three resolutions on August 15, 2017, which authorized Inyo to attempt to take three parcels of land that it leases from LADWP for landfill purposes in the Owens Valley, as well as water rights associated with those properties. LADWP objected to Inyo’s proposed project before and at the Supervisors’ hearing on the resolutions, in part, because Inyo did not conduct any environmental review or adequately consider alternatives, including LADWP’s offer to voluntarily sell the landfill properties without the water rights, but still allow the amount of water the landfills have historically used.
LADWP also expressed concerns about Inyo’s long history of environmental violations at the landfills, citing the thousands of violations from the County’s own Environmental Health Department and state regulators. Likewise, LADWP raised concerns over the impact of Inyo’s operations on water quality and the Owens Valley watershed. The Board of Supervisors approved the project without considering LADWP’s objections or offers.
“Inyo County had an obligation to properly consider alternatives to the long-term operation of its unlined landfills before attempting to condemn Los Angeles’ land and water rights,” Adams stated. “We attempted to resolve this matter with the County, and even offered to sell the landfills both before and at the hearing where the Supervisors voted to initiate condemnation proceedings. We also asked Inyo to agree to “toll,” or extend, the legally allowed time for filing our lawsuit in order to give us more time to work together to reach a mutually beneficial outcome. Unfortunately, Inyo rejected our offers to avoid litigation, resulting in the accrual of significant costs that their residents will now have to bear.”
LADWP filed its suit in response to Inyo’s actions on February 9, 2018. The court rejected Inyo’s attempt to dismiss the city’s case in September 2018, and held a trial on February 7, 2020.
Based on the court’s ruling that Inyo’s actions were illegal, LADWP intends to seek dismissal of the three eminent domain lawsuits that the County filed. If the court dismisses those cases, under California law, LADWP is also entitled to recover its costs and attorneys’ fees from Inyo associated with those lawsuits.