Excelaron weighing options, considering appeal
March 19, 2013
An attorney for Excelaron, the company seeking to drill as many as 12 oil wells in the Huasna Valley near Arroyo Grande, said she is considering appealing last week’s dismissal of a more than $6 billion lawsuit she filed against the county over its refusal to allow oil exploration in Huasna Valley.
Last week, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Martin Tangeman granting the county’s request to have the case thrown out because it was not served on the county within a 90-day deadline.
“We are disappointed in the ruling, and we are looking into all of our options, including filing an appeal,” said Sophie Treder, an attorney for Excelaron.
On Aug. 21, the San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to deny the oil exploration project.
Two days later, the county sent a letter to Exceleron explaining the rules regarding a possible appeal. In the letter, Senior Planner John McKenzie says an appeal by Exclaron would fall under a code section which does not require the county to be served within 90 days.
“Please be advised that the time within which judicial review must be sought is governed by the provisions of California Government Code of Civil Procedure section and chapter 1.09 of the San Luis Obispo County Code,” McKenzie wrote.
Excelaron filed its initial complaint on Nov. 19, but did not serve the county at that time.
The oil company amended its petition and served the county with the lawsuit on Dec. 28, well after the 90 days required by law to file and serve a complaint.
Treder, an attorney for Excelaron, argued that the county’s letter misled the oil exploration company into believing the complaint only needed to be filed within the 90-day period and not also served within that time frame.
County Counsel attorney Whitney McDonald said the county doesn’t usually send out letters explaining the appeal process, but they did in this case because of the high probability of a lawsuit being filed. She argued that Excelaron should have discovered the false assertions made by the county.
“The fact that the petitioners were represented by counsel all along almost dictates that they could not have detrimentally relied on the county’s notice,” McDonald argued.
Excelaron filed the $6.24 billion lawsuit against San Luis Obispo County late last year after the Board of Supervisors upheld a Planning Commission decision denying the oil company’s request to drill for black gold in the Huasna Valley.
The lawsuit claimed the county abused its discretion and acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner when it denied the oil company’s bid to drill for oil on the 5,000-acre Mankins Ranch.