Property Owners Sue L.A. County Over Damage to Road During Woolsey Fire

Los Angeles Fire Department Fire Fighting
Los Angeles Fire Department Fire Fighting

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A group of property owners is suing Los Angeles County for the damage workers allegedly caused to a road owned by the plaintiffs while transporting generators and fuel during and after the 2018 Woolsey Fire.
The plaintiffs in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed Monday are LT-WR LLC, Yogibear Properties LLC, Smokey the Bear Properties LLC, Third District Parklands LLC, Third District Meadowlands LLC, Mountainlands Conservancy LLC, Parklands Ranch LLC and Panorama Ranch LLC.
The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages on breach of contract and negligence allegations.
The property owners entered an agreement with the county in January 2014 in which the plaintiffs granted a license to use a road to reach Castro Peak, according to the lawsuit.
Castro Peak, at 2,826 feet, is the highest peak in the middle part of the Santa Monica Mountains and is in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The city of  Malibu is southeast of the peak.
The contract called for LT-WR to maintain the road and for the county to pay $1,000 monthly with a 2 1/2% annual increase, according to the plaintiffs.
The property owners also permitted access to the county’s sublessees of the Castro Peak Communications Center, including Ventura County, the state of California and the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System, the suit states.
A key condition of the contract restricted any trucks weighted at more than 33,000 pounds from being driven over the road without the plaintiffs’ written consent, according to the suit.
In November 2018, the Woolsey Fire destroyed the power lines to Castro
Peak, leaving all of the communication facilities there dependent upon the
use of backup generators. For about eight weeks, power from Southern California
Edison was out at Castro Peak, so county workers hauled three temporary
generators up to the area, according to the suit.
The temporary generators were used in addition to the county’s permanent generators so that emergency communications from Castro Peak could continue to be run, the suit states.
During the same period, county employees transported fuel via tankers weighing more than 33,000 pounds multiple times daily to fuel the several generators being operated within the county’s compound atop Castro Peak, the suit states.
“The use of these tanker trucks … caused an extraordinary degree of damage to the roadway,” the suit says.
Rainfall that could not be absorbed by the burned brush atop Castro Peak, combined with damage to the road, caused dirt areas of Castro Peak to suffer significant damage, according to the plaintiffs.
To repair the road, the property owners say they bought and laid a compound made up of crushed cement and asphalt, and also purchased and installed boards to keep the road accessible because of dirt and boulders that fell during the Woolsey Fire.
The 96,949-acre Woolsey Fire — which broke out Nov. 8, 2018, in Ventura County and quickly spread into Los Angeles County — killed three civilians, injured three firefighters, destroyed 1,643 structures and damaged 364 others. It took nearly two weeks to fully contain the blaze, which forced the evacuations of some 300,000 people.