Holy Cow! – Update

April 4, 2008

In December we wrote about one of our Woodside residents, Chop Keenan, and his award of $38,600.00 against the City of Half Moon Bay. The award was compensation for the City’s mishandling and then denying Mr. Keenan’s permit application to build a housing development.

The amount of the award is 3 times the annual city budget and threatened to bankrupt Half Moon Bay and could possibly have forced it to dissolve. Still the City, rather than immediately settling for less than the award as Mr. Keenan offered, threatened to appeal again without regard for what cost the citizens would have to bear rather than admit they made a mistake. Well good thing for the residents, some more reasonable heads have prevailed and there is a settlement (see here). The heart of the settlement is that the City will now work with Mr. Keenan to get him the right to develop 129 homes on the property by, at the latest, the end of 2011. If the property cannot be developed, the City will pay $18,000,000 plus interest. To date Half Moon Bay has spent at least $3 million defending against this lawsuit. If the City had not settled in addition to the $38,600,000 in damages, the City would have had to pay Keenan’s attorney fees which could have been substantially more than their own fees.

We are glad this suit is coming to an end and will leave Half Moon Bay intact for its citizens. Let’s hope this has taught Half Moon Bay and other towns and cities that stampeding over property rights can have harsh COW-nsequences.

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