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City of Siskiyou v. Superior Court (Environmental Law Foundation)

California Court of Appeals, Third District, Sacramento

June 13, 2013

COUNTY OF SISKIYOU, Petitioner,
v.
THE SUPERIOR COURT OF SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Respondent ENVIRONMENTAL LAW FOUNDATION et al., Real Parties in Interest.

Order Filed 7/12/13

ORIGINAL PROCEEDING in mandate, Super. Ct. No. 34201080000583

Best Best & Krieger, Roderick E. Walston; Thomas P. Guarino, County Counsel, and Natalie E. Reed, Deputy County Counsel, for Petitioners.

No appearance for Respondent.

Michael E. Wall and Noah Garrison for Natural Resources Defense Council as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Respondent and Real Parties in Interest.

James Wheaton, Danielle Fugere, Jennifer Maier; Glen H. Spain; and Richard Michael Frank for Real Parties in Interest Environmental Law Foundation, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, and Institute for Fisheries Resources.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Kathleen A. Kenealy, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Robert W. Byrne, Daniel M. Fuchs, Allison Goldsmith, and Mark Poole, Deputy Attorneys General, for Real Party in Interest State Water Resources Control Board.

ORDER MODIFYING OPINION

THE COURT:

It is ordered that the opinion filed herein on June 13, 2013, be modified as follows:

1. On page 8, the first sentence of the third full paragraph, “Siskiyou Superior Court” is changed to “Sacramento Superior Court, ” so the sentence reads as follows:

The petition filed with the Sacramento Superior Court alleges Siskiyou failed in its duty under the public trust doctrine to monitor and regulate groundwater extractions “that are not subject to the 1980 adjudication.”

2. On page 13, the first full paragraph, beginning with “Given that venue lies, ” is revised to read as follows:

Even if venue lies in both Sacramento and Siskiyou, the court did not err in denying Siskiyou’s motion for change of venue under section 392, subdivision (a) in the absence of any authority that section 392, subdivision (a) trumps all other venue statutes.

3. On page 13, the second sentence of the second full paragraph, beginning with “However, section 392 is limited, ” is revised to read as follows:

Even if water is real property, however, section 392 is limited to certain types of actions involving real property.

There is no change in the judgment.

RAYE, P. J.

Real parties in interest Environmental Law Foundation, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, and Institute for Fisheries Resources (real parties) filed a petition for a writ of mandate in Sacramento County, seeking to halt the issuance of well-drilling permits for nonadjudicated groundwater within the Scott River sub-basin in Siskiyou County. Real parties alleged County of Siskiyou (Siskiyou) and the State Water Resources Control Board (Board) had failed to manage certain described groundwater resources interconnected with the Scott River in a manner consistent with the public trust doctrine. Real parties prayed for injunctive, mandamus, and declaratory relief to recognize the authority of the Board to protect such groundwater under the public trust doctrine, and to compel the County to put in place a well-drilling permit or management plan to protect public trust resources.

Siskiyou demurred to the petition, asserting the Siskiyou Superior Court had exclusive jurisdiction by virtue of its 1980 decree that adjudicated water rights in the Scott River and reserved jurisdiction to review and modify the decree in the interests of justice. Siskiyou also moved to change venue based on the argument that groundwater constitutes real property, and under Code of Civil Procedure section 392, subdivision (a)(1), actions involving ...


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