The Contra Costa County Superior Court ruled in favor of Friends of Pine Meadow, a political action committee, that filed a complaint against the City of Martinez and DeNova Homes. The complaint held that the city’s resolution 011-17 incorrectly changed the zoning of the former Pine Meadow golf course from ‘open space/recreation’ and cleared the way for development of the 26 acre parcel.
“This is a huge victory for the citizens of Martinez, and a victory over those civic leaders and special interests who would further their own interests at the expense of what is best for our entire community,” said Tim Platt, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “Bringing a lawsuit against the City Council and a wealthy developer is a daunting undertaking, but the Council’s and the developer’s actions in rewriting history would have set a dangerous precedent for manipulating our government. It is a shame that citizens have to go to such lengths to keep our leaders from taking actions that the court has ruled are not legal.”
On Jan. 18, 2017, a majority of Martinez City Council agreed with former owner Christine Dean and DeNova Homes’ contention that the golf course was zoned and designated for residential development, rather than for open space or recreation.
The court disagreed with the council’s action writing, “no reasonable person could have reached the conclusion the City did in 2017 that “the Subject Property has a residential land use designation, it clearly did not have one in the 2010 General Plan or any time thereafter.”
The court recognized this battle will not likely end with this current ruling.
“Each side in this case has reason to be frustrated”, the court wrote in it’s 22-page decision. “The lack of clear documentation in the City’s records has contributed to years of litigation, multiple lawsuits. The court is under no illusion that its current ruling will end this dispute.”
DeNova argued, and the majority of the Council agreed, that poor documentation by the city, the lack of a final map and conflicting designations allowed that parcel to be zoned for development.
The court ruled against that argument saying, “in the end, however, none of this matters, because Orange Citizens (court ruling) instructs that the court must focus on what happened from 2010 on and not in or before 1973, when the Hidden Lakes Specific Area Plan was adopted and amended. By 2010, the golf course property had consistently been represented to the public as being open space property for many years, and that representation was reaffirmed in the 2010 update to the General Plan.
“Until January 18, 2017, the City always applied the language of the disputed map to the golf course property.”
City attorney Veronica Nebb said, “based on the Court’s ruling, and absent any further court action by the developer, the City Council will address rescinding its January 2017 resolution relating to the completeness of the developer’s application. That means that the developer’s application will currently be incomplete and would need to be made complete prior to any further action.