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Swenson v. Siskiyou County

April 20, 2010

STANLEY SWENSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SISKIYOU COUNTY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff, who is proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action. Pending before the court is plaintiff's motion to: (1) extend the discovery cut-off date; (2) compel production of documents; and (3) impose sanctions (Doc. 48).*fn1 A hearing was held on January 28, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. before the undersigned in Redding, California. Phillip B. Price, Esq., appeared on behalf of defendants and plaintiff appeared pro se.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff names as defendants Siskiyou County, members of the Siskiyou County Planning Commission, and others. He states that he owns an interest in real property situated in Siskiyou County. The property is located "directly behind a gravel pit owned and operated by the Defendant." According to plaintiff, on August 3, 1966, the Siskiyou County Planning Commission issued a use permit "allowing for the installation and operation of an asphalt hot plant to manufacture aggregate and asphalt paving products." He states that his predecessor-in-interest began making use of the property consistent with the use permit and that the use permit became a "vested property right which runs with the land." He adds that the 1966 use permit does not contain any termination provision.

Plaintiff claims that, on December 10, 2002, "[c]counsel for the Plaintiff gave written notice... to Rick Barnum as Director of the Siskiyou County Planning Department that the property owners were going to move forward with a business plan consistent with the Use Permit." On February 13, 2003, the Planning Commission responded with a letter asserting that the use permit was no longer valid. According to plaintiff, the "Planning Director's decision was made without any hearing, without legislative authority, and without any legislative body action all in violation of Plaintiff's due process rights relating to termination of a vested property right." Following the decision, Siskiyou County filed an appeal which was heard on May 4, 2005.*fn2 The Planning Commission rejected the appeal and affirmed the determination that the 1966 use permit was no longer valid. Plaintiff alleges that the appeal was heard over his objection because the Planning Commission "lacked any authority to conduct the [May 4, 2005] hearing." On May 24, 2005, plaintiff appealed to the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, which also affirmed the Planning Commission's determination regarding the use permit.

Plaintiff alleges in Count 1 a civil rights claim based on the determination that the 1966 use permit was not valid:

In declaring the Use Permit to be invalid based on Siskiyou County Code § 10-6.2501, Siskiyou County by and through the Planning Director, the Planning Commission, and the Board of Supervisors abused their discretion and failed to proceed in the manner required by law in that the termination of the Use Permit deprived Plaintiff of a vested property right.

He adds:

Termination of the Use Permit constitutes a taking of property without just compensation in violation of Article I, Section 19 of the California Constitution and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. The termination violated Plaintiff's procedural and substantive due process rights....

Plaintiff contends that, as a result of the determination that the use permit was no longer valid, he has been "denied the use of the Property consistent with the Use Permit from September of 2000 through the entry of a final order July 13, 2007...."*fn3

In Count 2, plaintiff references an action he brought asking the Superior Court to declare the 1966 use permit valid with respect to his property.*fn4 According to plaintiff, defendants interposed demurrers based on failure to exhaust administrative remedies because they "... did not want the case heard... because [they] knew that a hearing concerning a Vested Use Permit would necessarily result in the protection of Plaintiff's property rights." Plaintiff states that he was told by the Siskiyou County Counsel -- defendant Frank DeMarco -- that "... the county would rather fight Plaintiff in court in hopes of winning instead of taking on the masses of Mt. Shasta when they filed in court if Plaintiff was allowed to go forward." Plaintiff adds:

... At that point Plaintiff asked Mr. DeMarco if that meant that the county would rather squash Plaintiff's property rights in court in hopes of the court making a mistake in its final decision and finding against Plaintiff. Mr. DeMarco said "I guess you could state it that way."

According to plaintiff, defendants conspired to thwart his state court case even though they knew ...


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