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UPDATE: Court dismisses SCOPE claims on Valencia Water acquisition

Posted: November 7, 2013 12:55 p.m.
Updated: November 7, 2013 12:55 p.m.

Local environmentalists who saw their lawsuit challenging the purchase of Valencia Water Company tossed out recently are pressing ahead with their opposition to the controversial deal and are re-evaluating the situation, a spokesman for the group said Thursday.

“I’m not sure what the next move is,” said Ron Bottroff, spokesman for the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, or SCOPE.  

“We may just cool it around here,” he said. “It would take a lot of looking into.”

In January, SCOPE filed a lawsuit contesting the legality of the purchase of Valencia Water Company by the Castaic Lake Water Agency, the Santa Clarita Valley’s water wholesaler.

On Oct. 31, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin sustained the agency’s motions to dismiss SCOPE’s claims that its acquisition of stock of Valencia Water Company violated the California Environmental Quality Act, according to a news release issued by the agency Wednesday.

“This ruling 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 CLWA’s Board of Directors, in the 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, if 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 the agency 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.”

And, while SCOPE remains committed to fighting the purchase, CLWA remains committed to “successfully defending against SCOPE’s litigation so that businesses and residents served by the agency’s Santa Clarita Water Division and Valencia Water Company will benefit from enhanced water management and the economies of scale when the two retailers are able to consolidate in the future.”
On Twitter @jamesarthurholt


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