Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District, Division Two
May 12, 2022, Opinion Filed
RICHMAN, Acting P. J.—The Martha Company (Martha) owns the largest undeveloped parcel of real property in the vicinity of the Town of Tiburon (the Town), 110 acres on top of a mountain, overlooking much of the town and commanding a stunning view of San Francisco Bay. One county supervisor described the site as “the last remaining undeveloped ridgeline on the Tiburon peninsula,” and, as such, “it's treasured by residents and visitors.” Another supervisor called [**2] it “amazing,” “unique,” and “an absolute treasure,” while a third termed it a “jewel.”
For decades, Martha has tried to get official approval from the County of Marin (the County) to develop the property. Local opposition has been intense and unrelenting.
One manifestation of that opposition has been periodic bouts of litigation in federal district court, starting in 1975, between Martha and the County. The litigation produced two stipulated judgments, one in 1976, the other in 2007. The most significant aspect was that the County twice solemnly—and publicly—agreed to approve Martha building no fewer than 43 units on the property.
Approval for Martha finally came in October 2017—12 years after its latest application for permission to develop the property—when the County certified an environmental impact report and conditionally approved Martha's master plan to construct 43 single-family residences. The County took this action in the belief it was compelled by the stipulated judgments, particularly the 2007 one.
] It is axiomatic that governmental powers are indefeasible and inalienable. They cannot be surrendered, suspended, contracted away, waived, or otherwise divested. In short, government cannot [**3] bind itself not to govern by exercising its rightful powers, nor can it bind the hands of its successors.
The primary issue here, advanced by the Town and a number of interested Tiburon residents, is whether the County violated this principle by complying with an ostensibly final judgment. The allegation is that the County in effect agreed it would not follow or enforce state law, specifically, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA; Pub. Resources Code, § 21000 et seq.), to prevent development of an anticipated project by the other party to the litigation.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
78 Cal. App. 5th 700 *; 2022 Cal. App. LEXIS 407 **; 2022 WL 1498892
TIBURON OPEN SPACE COMMITTEE et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. COUNTY OF MARIN, Defendant and Respondent; THE MARTHA COMPANY, Real Party in Interest and Respondent; TOWN OF TIBURON, Intervener and Appellant.
Prior History: [**1] Superior Court of Marin County, No. CIV1704069, James T. Chou, Judge.
County of Marin v. Martha Co., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67889 (N.D. Cal., Sept. 8, 2006)
mitigation measures, mitigation, traffic, intersections, impacts, access road, environmental, feasible, site, judgments, approve, stipulated judgment, residential, private plaintiff, infeasible, water pressure, project site, preservation, streets, grade, substantial evidence, proposed project, water supply, peak hour, significant impact, acres, feet, master plan, neighborhood, measures
Governments, Local Governments, Employees & Officials, Business & Corporate Compliance, Environmental Law, Assessment & Information Access, Environmental Impact Statements, Environmental Law, Environmental Assessments, Legislation, Interpretation, Public Participation, Civil Procedure, Writs, Common Law Writs, Mandamus, Administrative Proceedings & Litigation, Judicial Review, Administrative Law, Judicial Review, Standards of Review, Substantial Evidence, Police Power, Police Powers, Appeals, Appellate Briefs