1/01/2008

Dump Site Suit Settled for $2.6M


Eminent Domain Dispute


By Leslie Parrilla

A local property owner received about $1.5 million more than the county originally offered after a battle over his dump site, which was taken through eminent domain to expand San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport.

The Nov. 20 settlement, in which the county agreed to pay $2.6 million to property owner Jim Filbin, ended more than a year of legal wrangling, according to court records.

A San Luis Obispo real estate appraiser hired by the county had valued Filbin’s 13-acre parcel heaped with concrete, asphalt and detritus at about $1.15 million, according to court records.

Counterappraisals came in at more than $4 million, said an attorney representing Filbin.

The county and Filbin’s dumping and recycling outfit on Santa Fe Road have been at odds for years.

He has been convicted twice for operating without permits and has a litany of dismissed charges related to allegations of illegal storage.

The property also had been investigated for ground and groundwater contamination. An environmental study in 2004 for county airport officials determined diesel and motor oil found at the site amounted to levels less than hazardous but more than the state allows. Groundwater was also tested and found to be not contaminated.

When the county offered Filbin $1.15 million to take the property in spring 2006 to expand the airport, Filbin wasn’t ready to sell.

“He said ‘No thank you,’ ” said Filbin’s attorney, Daral Mazzarella of San Diego. “His land was near and dear to him and he had no interest in selling it.”

After a jury was seated and testimony had started in the case filed on June 6, 2006, the county and Filbin agreed to settle the dispute over the property at 4398 Santa Fe Road for $2,609,804.36.

“Some of the factors were just a dispute between the experts on the value, various rulings in the court,” and both parties wanted to end the matter, said Mazzarella on what contributed to the settlement.

Attorneys representing the county did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Eminent domain refers to the condemnation actions taken by a government agency to take private land for public projects. Under state law, property owners are to be compensated with the fair market value of the land.

In many of the eminent domain cases heard in San Luis Obispo Superior Court, judges allow the county to take possession of the land before a purchase price is determined.



St Luis Obispo CA Tribune: http://www.sanluisobispo.com
California Eminent Domain Attorney