A group of property owners who sued 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 have dropped their lawsuit.
The plaintiffs in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed in April 2020 were 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 sought unspecified damages on breach of contract and negligence allegations. Their attorneys filed a request for dismissal on June 21 with Judge Upinder Kalra, but the court papers did not state whether a settlement was reached or if the case was not being pursued for other reasons.
In their court papers, lawyers for the county denied any breach of contract occurred or that the county was responsible for damage to the road.
But according to the lawsuit, 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 which, 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 stated.
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 stated.
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 stated.
“The use of these tanker trucks — caused an extraordinary degree of damage to the roadway,” the suit alleged.
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.
The property owners said that in order to repair the road, 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 started 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 some 300,000 people to evacuate.