Challenges to a City of Indio redevelopment project area expansion from three other government agencies have been thrown out on a technicality by the Fourth District County of Appeal.
The Coachella Valley Water District, the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District, and the Valley Sanitary District contended that an area Indio added to its redevelopment project area in November 1999 was neither physically blighted nor predominately urbanized, as required by redevelopment law. The water district filed a "reverse validation" lawsuit against the mosquito control and sanitary districts, and other entities in early 2000. The mosquito control and sanitary districts filed cross-complaints soon thereafter. The public agencies accused Indio of making a "land grab" for financial gain.
Indio and Riverside County, which was also named as a defendant in the litigation, asked a Riverside County Superior Court to dismiss the water district lawsuit because the water district published an incorrectly worded summons. The trial court denied the request, but the Fourth District reversed and directed the trial court to dismiss the lawsuit.
In the latest go-round, Indio and Riverside County argued that because the court had dismissed the original lawsuit, the court could not hear the cross-complaints from the mosquito control and sanitary districts. The trial court agreed and ruled in favor of Indio and the county. The Fourth District upheld the decision.
In the appeal, the special districts argued that the court should hear their cross-complaint because it was a separate action, was filed on time and was served personally to the defendants. Indio and the county countered that the court did not have jurisdiction to decide the cross-complaints related to the original reverse validation lawsuit, which had been tossed out.
The unanimous three-judge appellate panel agreed with Indio and the county. The trial court could not decide the cross-complaints when it never had jurisdiction over the original reverse validation lawsuit, the court held.
"Rather than take the risk of relying on another party to comply with the statutes, the Mosquito District and Valley Sanitary could have filed its own reverse validation actions," Justice Barton Gaut wrote for the court.
The appellate panel never reached the merits of the controversy.
Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District v. City of Indio, No. E029531, 02 C.D.O.S. 7340, 2002 DJDAR 9163. Filed August 9, 2002.
For the districts: Lisa Garvin Copeland, (760) 341-7773.
For the city: Kevin Sullivan, Lounsbery, Ferguson, Altona & Peak, (760) 743-1201.
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