Alameda Court rules on LADWP’s demurrer
On Friday, February 22, Alameda Superior Court denied the City of Los Angeles’ request for a demurrer against Mono County’s suit regarding the waterless ranch leases. The court held the initial demurrer hearing on Friday, January 18.
A demurrer is filed by a defense, in this case Los Angeles, and claims that a petitioner’s, Mono County, complaint is invalid.
A court can find a complaint invalid for a number of reasons. In this case, the City cited two legal reasons for the request: the causes of action were too broad and statute of limitations had passed. The court dismissed both.
Regarding the City’s claim that the county’s complaint was too broad, the court stated, “The City asserts that Mono must identify the leases with greater certainty — dates, parties, properties, etc. The allegations in the complaint are adequate. The City’s demurrer states that for purposes of the demurrer it has identified ‘only operative leases in Mono County that the FAP could be referencing.’ … Therefore, although the petition could be more specific, the petition has placed the City on notice of the allegations against it.”
The City claimed that the statute of limitations on the county’s claim that the City did not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) before switching to the waterless leases had expired, making the complaint invalid.
The statute of limitations for CEQA is 180 days. The City claimed the CEQA review period was initiated in 2010 when the City approved the leases. Mono County claimed that the review started when the City notified ranchers of the waterless leases on May 1, 2018 and they had 180 days from that date to file their complaint, which they filed on September 27. The court found that the City’s notification of reducing the allocation of water on the leases constituted a significant change in its practice and therefore had to heed CEQA.