Supervisor Paul Biane
Created: 08/30/2010 07:18:00 PM PDT

It’s time to come to the bargaining table so we can stop spending taxpayer dollars on litigation costs.

The City of Upland, Caltrans, San Bernardino Associated Governments (Sanbag), and the County of San Bernardino have spent far too much money and time litigating the lawsuit related to the 20th Street storm drain and the Colonies project rather than sitting down and attempting to mediate our differences.

A judge has already determined that the county Flood Control District’s lawsuit to recoup the settlement paid to Colonies Partners has merits and deserves its day in court, and this lawsuit could drag on for several years before any final judgment is rendered.

Caltrans and Sanbag as well as Upland hold some responsibility for damages sustained by the Colonies Partners. Time after time, the courts ruled that easements used by Caltrans and Sanbag for the construction of the 210 Freeway were invalid. This is clear when you read the court documents, which are posted on the 2nd District website at www.sbcounty.gov/biane.

It’s time to move this out of the courtroom and into more amenable mediation talks.

I had to join my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors in the 5-0 vote to file the lawsuit because we have a fiduciary responsibility to the Flood Control District to recoup money from other parties that are also responsible for damages to the Colonies Partners. Regardless who is sitting as 2nd District supervisor, this case will proceed.

I think it is important to note the county is also seeking compensation from insurance companies in this litigation, which is strikingly similar to a lawsuit the board was forced to file against the city of Rialto, Sanbag and Caltrans in relation to the construction of the 210 Freeway. The city and the agencies did not consider the impacts the below-grade freeway would have on flood control in the area, and the burden to deal with resulting flooding issues is now on the county Flood Control District’s back.

As for the city of Upland, it pushed hard for construction of the 20th Street storm drain because it allowed the 210 Freeway to be constructed below grade. This made it possible for the city to maintain its historic character and also greatly reduced noise impacts associated with the freeway, which are both great things for the city.

The county offered to settle with the city of Upland for $2million several years ago, but the city refused the offer and now apparently has spent more on litigation than a settlement would have cost.

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