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Our Lawsuit

 
 

On July 25, 2018, Judge Rene Auguste Chouteau issued his decision regarding the Lawsuit that Friends of Chanate filed.  Click here to see the Court's ruling.

We wanted to be the first to let you know that Judge Chouteau issued his ruling today in our lawsuit and our petition was granted!  We prevailed on the California Environmental Quality Act cause of action.    We couldn’t have done it without you!    As the Judge’s decision states:   “Based on the above analysis, the court grants the petition and orders the County to vacate its decision approving the Development Agreement.”   We have barely had time to read the decision, and haven’t yet had a full conversation with our attorney about next steps, so will have more to report shortly.  But we want to let you know the good news right away!    Again, thanks to all of you for your support and for your generous donations to the cause.    Friends of Chanate is a fiscally sponsored nonprofit project of Inquiring Systems, Inc. ID 94-2524840    

We wanted to be the first to let you know that Judge Chouteau issued his ruling today in our lawsuit and our petition was granted!  We prevailed on the California Environmental Quality Act cause of action.
 
We couldn’t have done it without you!
 
As the Judge’s decision states:
 
“Based on the above analysis, the court grants the petition and orders the County to vacate its decision approving the Development Agreement.”
 
We have barely had time to read the decision, and haven’t yet had a full conversation with our attorney about next steps, so will have more to report shortly.  But we want to let you know the good news right away!
 
Again, thanks to all of you for your support and for your generous donations to the cause.
 
Friends of Chanate is a fiscally sponsored nonprofit project of Inquiring Systems, Inc. ID 94-2524840


 

Our Lawsuit – the Last Resort

No one wants to file a lawsuit – they’re expensive and time consuming. But after Sonoma County completely ignored the public, we had no choice.

Members of Friends of Chanate have been trying to participate in the proposed development and sale of the Chanate property for a year or longer. Sonoma County stonewalled all concerned community members, ignored their input and questions, and instead chose to do this bad deal behind closed doors.

After Sonoma County finalized their sale and proposed development of the 82 acre historic Community/Sutter hospital property on Chanate to a favored developer, who plans up to 800 new homes at this location, Friends of Chanate was formed.

This is a bad deal for our community health care, supportive services, non-profits, local taxpayers and for the preservation of historic landmarks and open spaces.

On August 9, 2017 Friends of Chanate filed suit against Sonoma County to attempt to change this bad deal.

We filed this lawsuit because we strongly believe that citizens lawsuits are an effective – and sometimes the only – means to hold local government accountable to the law. We are not seeking to stop the project; we do want to improve it.

We are suing the County for three primary reasons:

1) Failure of the County to comply with California Environmental Quality Act and prepare an Initial Study that starts to consider environmental consequences of development as CEQA requires.

2) Failure of the County to comply with the Brown Act, which requires that they conduct the public’s business in public, and that the public be allowed to participate in decisions that their government is making.

3) Giveaway of public funds because the sale – the Disposition and Development Agreement – does not sell the property for fair value, allows the developer to maximize his profit and sell the project, and does not guarantee the project will ever be built.

The best and most likely outcomes of the lawsuit include that the court would invalidate the Disposition and Development Agreement and return it to the County to:

  • Conduct proceedings in accordance with the Brown Act and CEQA to identify potential environmental impacts of the project, including the potential traffic and safety impacts caused by building up to 800 new homes.

  • Improve the language of the Agreement to increase the value of the sale and the project to the County taxpayers.

 

We Need Your Help

As the New Year begins, we face new challenges:

  • Attorneys for the County and the developer are doing everything in their power to delay our lawsuit – they still haven’t responded to our complaint!

  • The County is demanding an exorbitant amount of money to prepare the Administrative Record for our case (the “Administrative Record” is a record of all the documents necessary to prove our case).

  • The goal of the County and the developer is to make the cost of prosecuting our lawsuit so expensive that they hope we will have to abandon it.

We can’t let them get away with these tactics.

  • Our attorney has donated her professional time to file a motion with the Court to either set the cost of the Administrative Record at a reasonable amount, or to allow Friends of Chanate to prepare the Administrative Record (which would save us money).

  • Members of the Friends of Chanate are donating their time reviewing all the documents so that we'll be ready to prepare the Administrative Record if we get that opportunity.

  • Individuals in the community have donated their time and sent additional Public Records Act Requests to ensure that the County has to reveal all the documents relevant to the lawsuit.

With your support, we hope to force the County to reopen their sale of the Chanate property, force the County and the developer to comply with environmental regulations, force them to be transparent, and force the County to get a fair price for this valuable property.

If we don’t have the financial resources to continue to prosecute our lawsuit, the County will get away with this gift to its favored developer – allowing the developer to maximize his profit at the expense of all County taxpayers.

Please help by making a tax-deductible donation today – together we can make a difference!

 

The Documents

The links, below, are for the important legal documents filed, in the order they have been filed. All are pdf documents, and will require Acrobat Reader to view.