November 27, 2009


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 itself.

Links to documents:

Letter from PacificUS to the Yosemite Alpine Community Services District, Oct. 30, 2008

Lawsuit filed by PacificUS against the YACSD on July 27, 2009

Letter from PacificUS to selected individual homeowners within Yosemite Alpine Village, Nov. 19, 2009

BACKGROUND:        PacificUS vs. YACSD

1)      YACSD’s Stance (keep this in mind always)

a.      The Board has always sought merely to protect our water system.

b.      All we ask is simply that PacificUS leave our water system alone and not degrade its quality.

c.       The 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.  

2)      History – PacificUS Creates a Conflict

a.      Long 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.

b.      In its 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.”

c.       PacificUS also put their parking structure over another easement that contains pipes bringing water to Block-D from their wells – called the “1997 Easement.”  

3)      PacificUS’ (apparent) Stance

a.      PacificUS believes that when Mr. Robert O. Keller signed over possession of the 1997 Easement to the YACSD, Mr. Keller made a mistake.

b.      PacificUS wants ownership of the 1997 Easement

c.       PacificUS also wants to move the 1971 Easement (rather than moving their building).  

4)      History – PacificUS Effort to Resolve the Conflict They Created  

a.      According 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).**

b.      Through 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.**

c.       PacificUS 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.

                                                              i.      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 quite reasonable.**

5)      The Lawsuit Served on August 14, 2009 (available online*)

a.      The 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

b.      Here’s 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.”

c.       PacificUS seeks both of our wells, both easements, court costs + damages

d.      PacificUS 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 p. 10-11).

e.      Sometime 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.  

6)      PacificUS’ Letter of Nov. 19, 2009 (available online*)

a.      PacificUS 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 their actions.

b.      PacificUS 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 serves PacificUS.  

7)      YACSD Actions in Response

a.      Discuss, receive input from homeowners, and seek guidance from our attorneys on how to proceed.  


a.      YACSD wants only to protect our water system. Giving away parts of the water system, whether potential or currently in use, doesn’t further that goal.

b.      A 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.

* http://www.sierratel.com/wawonamoon/09_11_27.htm  
**Parts of this entry in the outline were updated in January, 2010