Letter to the Editor: City council loses major lawsuit

The City Council has lost the Pine Meadow Rewrite History lawsuit. The Contra Costa County Superior Court states in their February 8 ruling: “… no reasonable person could have reached the conclusion the City did in 2017 that ‘the Subject Property has a residential land use designation’….” The Court goes on to state: “… it is an abuse of discretion for a city to do so [undo many years of planning decisions] on facts like those present here.”

The City Council voted in 2017 to call Pine Meadow’s open space designation dating from 1973 an error that occurred 43 years ago. They voted to say it should have been shown as residential all along. The Council’s illegal decision to rewrite history allowed the approval of a 92-house development on Pine Meadow without the possibility of a citizen referendum to stop it.

The Court ruling says that the Council resolution must be rescinded and is null and void. The housing project must be resubmitted with the correct land use designation of Permanent Open Space/Recreation. The new project will be subject to Measure I, the Martinez Open Space and Park Protection Law. Measure I will require a public vote on any new project.

The Court also ruled the City Council violated State Elections Code Section 9241 that protects the people’s right of referendum.

Additionally, the Court ruled that the Council violated the California State Supreme Court “Orange Citizens” decision that says corrections such as the Council made to the General Plan are not legal when the public has relied on information that has been clearly stated in the Plan for years.

So the Council lost the lawsuit for all three reasons, but any one would have been sufficient.

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 even legal.

The City Council disregarded the recommendations of its own Planning Department Report that showed that Pine Meadow was, and should continue to be, designated as open space.

Instead, after a two hour presentation by DeNova homes, the Council voted to accept DeNova’s interpretation (with only Councilmember DeLaney voting NO). The Court nullified the Council vote, stating”… no reasonable person could have reached the conclusion the City did….”

We believe the City Council is listening to the wrong voices and we implore them to start listening to all of us.

The Superior Court ruling and backup information are on our website: www.friendsofpinemeadow.org.

­– Tim Platt and Mark Thomson for Friends of Pine Meadow

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