Humboldt Coalition For Property Rights

Protecting Your Rural Lifestyle


Lawsuit Settlement

DATE: May 8, 2013


Contact: Sally Macdonald
Phone: (707) 499-6600

Eureka, CA — Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights and the County of Humboldt have reached a resolution to the California Public Records Act case in which HumCPR sought records associated with expenses paid for litigation concerning the County’s General Plan update, land use, and planning from the years 2002 to 2013.

The settlement involves the County agreeing to being enjoined from further violation of the California Public Records Act by delaying or denying HumCPR, and presumably other members of the public and the press, immediate access to and copies of the records HumCPR had requested. HumCPR in turn agreed to accept the redaction of two invoices which are illustrative of the types of expenses the County has incurred in the litigation matters and which were the subject of HumCPR’s Public Records Act Request.

“While HumCPR could easily request the balance of the documents to be properly redacted, we believe that the legal point has now been completely decided,” said HumCPR Executive Director, Sally Macdonald. “At issue was the County’s obligation to turn over documents that had been previously improperly redacted and we have no desire to simply make work for county staff.”

By correcting the limited number of documents HumCPR has established that County Counsel now knows what is legally required and HumCPR has set a precedent for the future, Macdonald explained.

As a result, “Never again can our County Counsel claim to have made a ‘mistake’ improperly redacting 1,500 pages of public documents that includes the details of over $3,000,000.00 of public spending on lawsuits,” said Macdonald.

HumCPR thanks those members of the Board of Supervisors who have taken into consideration realities which were uncovered during this litigation, and who we hope will take steps to address those concerns: streamlining the delivery of records in response to a Public Records Request by any member of the public; ensuring that all department support staff and attorneys of County Counsel’s office begin to track their time in a detailed manner that is typical of attorneys across the country and taught in most law schools; and that the invoices which were requested by HumCPR in this matter are being reviewed in detail to ensure that only appropriate charges have been billed to the County. We are especially hopeful that some of what appears to be very significant mistakes on these invoices will result in large refunds to the county and thereby Humboldt taxpayers. We believe that a proactive approach by the Board will take the results of this lawsuit far beyond what the most obvious issues are – instead of merely providing the records requested, the Board can take significant steps to correct identified problems within the County system and County Counsel’s office.

We also sincerely appreciate the involvement and the county’s engagement of Bill Bragg to represent the county. Mr. Bragg’s consistent reasonable demeanor and responsible interpretation of the law greatly contributed to this settlement.

Finally, HumCPR wishes to thank Allison Jackson and the entire staff at the Harland Law Firm. HumCPR could not have brought these public documents and county procedural concerns to light without their concerted effort and diligent hard work

P.O. Box 47
Eureka, CA 95502
(707) 268-8773
Fax (707) 268-8773