Weekly Updates: CA Supreme Court on Delta Tunnels Land Access Case & More

Weekly Summary: July 24, 2016

Action Alert: UC Davis Course on the Delta and Facebook Live Video Update  UC Davis Extension is holding a class to educate Sacramento citizens on the Delta with an agenda of selling the public on the tunnels. We hope some of you can register for this class and share your knowledge of how this project will destroy the Delta. We will be busy at that time at the State Water Board. Full post here

DELTA TUNNELS: CA Supreme Court Rules in Farmland Access Case The California Supreme Court has reversed a Court of Appeal decision that favored Delta landowners against the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). In doing so, however, it did hand Delta landowners a limited victory by “reforming” the statute at issue. DWR had requested court orders that would allow DWR agents to enter Delta properties to conduct investigations in support of the controversial twin tunnel project. The proposed investigations included geological, biological and cultural surveys DWR said were essential for the twin tunnel project to continue. Read media release

Conservation, Fishing, Public Interest Groups Reach out to Bruce Babbitt on Delta Tunnels  Public interest groups sent a letter to Bruce Babbitt requesting a meeting to discuss A Sustainable Water Plan for California (2015) which describes “a carefully conceived modern, 21st-century Plan B.” Read media release and letter.

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Action Alert: UC Davis Course on the Delta

Dear friends,

UC Davis Extension is holding a class to educate Sacramento citizens on the Delta with an agenda of selling the public on the tunnels. We hope some of you can register for this class and share your knowledge of how this project will destroy the Delta. We will be busy at that time at the State Water Board. 

We are extremely concerned that we now have an academic unit that is carrying a message for the Delta Tunnels, a proposed project that has not been permitted by the federal government and basically been failed by the EPA.

Even more alarming, to be able to attend the class, you have to pay a large $360 fee. We see that as a very undemocratic way to access information about a project in terms of water availability, water delivery, environmental impact, and cost. We have worked for 10 years to provide people with science and economic information on the Delta Tunnels and we have always done it for free or for at-will donations. 

If you're available and can afford that fee, we hope that you can sign up and participate in the course.

Details and sign up here.

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Facebook Live: Weekly Video Update

Today, we did our first weekly video update on Facebook live. Watch here.

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Bay Area Screening of Over Troubled Waters

Transition Berkeley Presents Film & Discussion:

Save the Delta – Over Troubled Waters
Thursday, August 4, 2016

(6:30 pm – refreshments, 7-9 pm – program)

Join us for this visually rich documentary, “Over Troubled Waters,” the story of the battle being fought by the people of the Delta to protect the region they love and to encourage saner water policies for the Golden State and all the people of California.

The evening will feature the controversial Delta Tunnels project. Our panel will include representatives from Restore the Delta and Sierra Club and Dr. Patty Oikawa, a UC Berkeley researcher investigating the climate benefits of Delta wetlands restoration.They are working furiously to save the Delta from the Tunnel project which will seriously undermine this essential treasure.

This event sponsored by: Transition Berkeley, Social Justice Committee (Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists), and the Water Working Group (Berkeley Climate Action Coalition)

Historic Fellowship Hall
1924 Cedar Street, Berkeley, CA 94709

At Bonita Ave, one block east of MLK Way & three blocks west of Shattuck Ave
Wheelchair accessible via the ramp on the Bonita Avenue side of the building.

Suggested Donation: $5-20 No one turned away for lack of funds!
For info: www.transitionberkeley.com or email: [email protected]

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DELTA TUNNELS: CA Supreme Court Rules in Farmland Access Case

For Immediate Release: 7/21/16

Contact: Tom Keeling, Principal, Freeman Firm, Stockton CA (209) 474-1818       

San Francisco –  The California Supreme Court has reversed a Court of Appeal decision that favored Delta landowners against the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).  In doing so, however, it did hand Delta landowners a limited victory by “reforming” the statute at issue. DWR had requested court orders that would allow DWR agents to enter Delta properties to conduct investigations in support of the controversial twin tunnel project.  The proposed investigations included geological, biological and cultural surveys DWR said were essential for the twin tunnel project to continue.   

Representing dozens of Delta landowners, Tom Keeling of the Freeman Firm (Stockton) focused on the fact that DWR did not offer to pay for its proposed entries.  DWR argued that the entries should be granted without compensation under a “pre-condemnation entry” statute.  That statute requires a deposit of probable compensation for actual damage to property but no right to a jury within the proceeding. Keeling argued that the proposed entries would amount to takings of private property that require just compensation. This was the same argument he had made in the Court of Appeal, resulting in the 2014 decision favoring the landowners.   
 
In reversing that 2014 decision, the Supreme Court assumed, without deciding, that the proposed entries amounted to takings or damaging of private property. It also held that even if such entries would be a taking of private property, government may use the pre-condemnation entry statute to acquire that property. 
 
Here, Delta landowners gained what Keeling describes as a limited victory: the Supreme Court reformed the pre-condemnation entry procedure to allow landowners the right of a jury trial on the measure of damages at the proceeding. 
 
Keeling added: “Our successes in the lower courts achieved a 6-year delay in gathering information DWR said is essential for engineering and planning the twin tunnel project. But we had hoped the Supreme Court would take this opportunity to protect California landowners against governmental overreaching in the future. We had argued for a result that would apply existing law to balance the needs of government and the rights of landowners.  The Supreme Court’s new decision effectively changes California law, in our view.  Although it did reform the pre-condemnation entry statute to provide the right to a jury trial within that proceeding, the decision is likely to make landowners in this State more vulnerable to aggressive tactics such as those DWR tried to use against Delta landowners.”

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Conservation, Fishing, Public Interest Groups Reach out to Bruce Babbitt on Delta Tunnels

For Immediate Release 7/19/2016

Contact:
Bob Wright, Senior Counsel, Friends of the River (916) 442-3155 x207
 
Sacramento – As the Associated Press reported last week, California Governor Jerry Brown has hired former Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt to “work to resolve long-standing water supply and ecological challenges in the delta.”
 
In that role, Mr. Babbitt should reach out to all stakeholders in the process, including opponents of Governor Brown’s $15.7 billion Delta Tunnels proposal.
 
Today, public interest groups sent a letter to Bruce Babbitt requesting a meeting to discuss A Sustainable Water Plan for California (2015) which describes “a carefully conceived modern, 21st-century Plan B.” The groups claim their Sustainable Water Plan should actually be Plan A. The plan outlines less expensive alternatives to the Delta Tunnels that will protect the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary, West Coast fisheries, and help California develop long-term, regional water sustainability in a time of climate change.

In the letter sent to Mr. Babbitt today, the groups state:

“Providing a more reliable water supply means ceasing to base goals on the ‘paper water’ that far exceeds real water available, factoring in future reductions because of climate change including declining snowpack and runoff, and meeting the needs for fisheries, Delta agriculture, and other human uses of Bay-Delta water. Protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem, means what it says. The only way to do that is to reduce exports and increase freshwater flows through the Bay-Delta. That is the opposite of creating a massive new diversion upstream from the Delta taking away the freshwater flows before they can perform essential benefits for the Delta ecosystem.”
 
Signatory organizations include: California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, California Water Impact Network, Center for Biological Diversity, Earth Law Center, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Friends of the River, Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Association, Planning and Conservation League, Protect our Water, Restore the Delta, and Sierra Club California.

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