Local governments often feel that since they have so many statutory immunities, they can trample on property rights with no cow-nsequence. Woodside resident, Chop Keenan, has proven otherwise. Chop just won a thirty six million, eight hundred thousand ($36,800,000) dollar judgment against the City of Half Moon Bay.
As we understand it, Chop owns a 24-acre property north of downtown Half Moon Bay known as Beachwood. When he bought the property in 1993 it was entitled for an 83-unit housing development. However, Half Moon Bay enacted a seven-year construction moratorium due to lack of capacity at the local sewer plant. When the moratorium ended, the city would not give a building permit because there were wetlands on the land which under the Coastal Act prevents any development. The Federal District Court found that the city had created the wetlands on the Beachwood property. Apparently the city, itself, in the course of doing some work in the area, caused water to remain onsite in shallow pools which eventually became potential habitat to threatened and endangered species.
There is much speculation that the judgment, which is being appealed, could bankrupt the City or cause it to dissolve and un-incorporate in which case the County of San Mateo would take over governing responsibilities.
So it is a very moo-erry Christmas for Chop but not so for the City government people who are apparently on the naughty list for their Grinch like ways. Hopefully, they can settle the case in a win-win for everyone. And, hopefully, our Town leaders take this as a cautionary Christmas tale.
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