UPDATE, May 2015: The lawsuit, referred to below, has
been dropped. PacificUS declared bankruptcy, and a new development
company now owns the meadow which remains undeveloped. The YACSD is
currently bolstering its water system against any future threats with
the development of new well sites and water storage. Please see my blog
entry for December 1, 2014.
Here's a little outline for any who wonder what goes on
behind the scenes as you drive through our little settlement on the way
to Wawona. Diane and I happen to live in a subdivision of Fish Camp
called Yosemite Alpine Village, created around 1969. To oversee its
water supply, road maintenance, etc., a public entity was created called
the Yosemite Alpine Community Services District (YACSD). Now, a Los
Angeles area developer called PacificUS wants the YACSD to move its
easements to make way for a development. Rather than offer incentives,
PacificUS has offered . . . well, read the below. You're cordially
invited to judge the quality of PacificUS' offers, lawsuit, the quality
of their writing, generally, and by extension, the quality of PacificUS
Stance (keep this in mind always)
Board has always sought merely to protect our water system.
ask is simply that PacificUS leave our water system alone and not
degrade its quality.
Board has no business entertaining offers to trade away district
property unless it brings us something of clearly greater value. We
don’t believe that homeowners want us monkeying around with their
water system unless it’s to some benefit.
– PacificUS Creates a Conflict
before PacificUS, Fish Camp homeowners took the time and trouble to
create a Town Plan that set aside a 9-acre parcel on the edge of the
meadow zoned for a commercial resort. That wasn’t enough for
PacificUS, so they convinced Mariposa County to squeeze the 9 acres
like toothpaste all over the meadow.
plans, PacificUS put a corner of its conference center over part of
our 40 year-old water system – over the easement containing the pipe
connecting our 2 wells, called the “1971 Easement.”
also put their parking structure over another easement that contains
pipes bringing water to Block-D from their wells – called the
believes that when Mr. Robert O. Keller signed over possession of the
1997 Easement to the YACSD, Mr. Keller made a mistake.
wants ownership of the 1997 Easement
also wants to move the 1971 Easement (rather than moving their
– PacificUS Effort to Resolve the Conflict They Created
to PacificUS: “PacificUS began in August, 2001, to negotiate an
agreement to finance the building of one, possibly two, new well(s) to
be located alternatively on property within the District.” (Letter
to Jack Hoover, Chairman, 9/12/07).**
its research, PacificUS alleged in 2007 that there were “title
issues” associated with YACSD easements that needed to be “cleaned
up,” asking the YACSD to abandon the 1997 easement.**
made an offer to the YACSD dated Oct. 30, 2008
(available online*). By the terms of that offer, we would give our two
wells to PacificUS. In exchange PacificUS would license us to use a
different well of theirs that would match the production and quality
of the two original wells. They also asked for the 1997 Easement in
exchange for a different easement of questionable value to us.
Like the previous offers,
the 2008 offer would result in a net loss (or at best zero gain) to
the YACSD, it was turned down by the Board unanimously at its next
meeting (4/18/09), and PacificUS notified in a letter (dated 5/5/09)
that did not include a counter-offer. We feel that this response was
Lawsuit Served on August 14, 2009 (available
lawsuit was discussed at the Sept. 7, 2009 YACSD public meeting.
Notice of the lawsuit was also sent to all who own property in the
YACSD the first week in November
the text of the November notice: “In the lawsuit filed July 27,
2009, PacificUS Real Estate Group seeks ownership of two separate
easements that were granted to YACSD in 1971 and 1997.
These easements are attached to both of our water wells and
include pipelines and controllers required for current and future
water delivery and the potential expansion of our system.
If successful, this Los Angeles area developer will own our
water. The YACSD Board determined that the plaintiff’s claims are
without merit and has engaged a law firm to defend our rights to the
water system that has served us for forty years.
YACSD property owners with questions or concerns should contact
any of their YACSD Board members.”
seeks both of our wells, both easements, court costs + damages
claims in its lawsuit that the easements and the wells should be
theirs, and that our use of the two wells is illegal (see the lawsuit
before filing suit, PacificUS knowingly planned a corner of its
conference center over the top of our 1971 easement, creating a
pretext to sue to take away our wells.
Letter of Nov. 19, 2009 (available
asks to move our water pipes and easements to suit their wants, and
again for us to give them the 1997 Easement in exchange for another
easement of questionable value to us. In return, PacificUS offers to drop its
lawsuit, and to pay for legal costs incurred by us as a result of
seems also to seek to estrange the Board from the homeowners it
represents by raising the threat of legal costs to the homeowners, the
threat to return to a more invasive version of its resort proposal,
calling the Board “unreasonable” and even leveling a personal
attack upon one member of our Board. This attempt at manipulation only
Actions in Response
receive input from homeowners, and seek guidance from our attorneys on
how to proceed.
wants only to protect our water system. Giving away parts of the water
system, whether potential or currently in use, doesn’t further that
reasonable approach for PacificUS would have been to offer us something of greater value than what they seek in exchange. Instead,
first with a token offer of lesser value and now by intimidation,
PacificUS through its actions seems to want us to place their desires
over our own.
**Parts of this entry in the outline were updated in January, 2010