Trial date set for city, Golden State eminent domain case

Angela Bailey, September 3, 2015, the Claremont Courier

The city’s fight for ownership of the local water system took another step forward last week, with a trial date set for spring 2016.

Attorneys for the city of Claremont and Golden State Water Company appeared in court on August 27 for a case management hearing and were given the green light to move forward with the eminent domain case.

“We requested a trial date on the condemnation and the judge granted it,” explained Best, Best & Kreiger attorney Ken MacVey, representing the city of Claremont. “It’s full-steam ahead from this point.”

A final status conference is scheduled for February 26, 2016, with trial to follow on March 7, 2016.

The city first filed its 43-page eminent domain complaint against the water giant in Los Angeles Superior Court on December 9. An amended complaint was filed June 27, as ordered by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Fruin on April 30.

Golden State Water sought to dismiss the case, stating that the property description and the city’s pre-litigation offer to purchase the water system were inadequate. Judge Fruin gave the city 60 days to re-file its amended complaint following the water company’s request for dismissal.

Before the New Year begins, attorneys will once again appear in court on October 15 for a scheduled status conference. Until then, legal counsel for both Claremont and Golden State Water will proceed with discovery in preparation for their impending trial.

As of mid-July, the city has spent about $2.2 million on issues related to the Claremont water system acquisition. Claremont City Council appropriated an additional $1 million from the water system acquisition reserve fund on July 14 for expenses related to the case. The funds, allocated from the 2013-14 General Fund Surplus, were set aside by council in October 2014 to address water-related expenses, including additional legal and expert consultant fees.

The Claremont water system serves the entire city of Claremont and small areas within the cities of Pomona, Montclair and Upland as well as unincorporated Los Angeles County.

On November 4, 2014, 71 percent of Claremont voters approved the issuance of revenue bonds to finance the purchase of the system, despite Golden State’s declaration that the system was not for sale. Shortly thereafter, the Claremont City Council determined that acquisition of the water system is in the public’s best interest and unanimously approved two resolutions of necessity, laying the groundwork for the potential acquisition.

For more information, visit the city’s website at www.ci.claremont.ca.us/living/water.

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