Judge rejects another attempt to dismiss lawsuit alleging bias in Atascadero

May 16, 2022

Atascadero Councilwoman Susan Funk


After losing a motion to dismiss a case against Atascadero and two City Council members for alleged bias and prejudice, the city filed a motion to strike most of the allegations, which led the judge again to note the merits of the case, in a May 16 ruling.

In his lawsuit against the city, Scott Newton accuses council members Susan Funk and Heather Newsom of violating regulations in their battle to stop Newton from developing his property. After the Atascadero Planning Commission approved Newton’s proposal to construct self-storage facilities, Funk and Newsom took it upon themselves to file an appeal against the proposed project, ramp up support for their appeals and then vote on their appeals.

Also, the council members were not required to pay appeal filing fees or to have their appeals heard within the required 30 days, according to the lawsuit.

Newton then attempted to rezone the property with plans to build a residential development, but the city refused to process his application, which is another claim in his lawsuit.

In their motion to strike, the city asked the court to strike the allegations of bias against staff and council members Funk and Newson. SLO County Superior Court Judge Hernaldo Baltodano denied the motion to strike the issues of bias.

Judge Baltodano rejected 10 of the city’s 11 requests to strike, only allowing the city to strike Newton’s allegation the city’s neighborhood compatibility standard is vague.

As a result, the case is headed to the deposition phase, in which Newton’s attorney can garner information from city leaders under penalty of perjury. The city’s attorneys will also have an opportunity to depose Newton before the case heads to trial.

Newton, a Pismo Beach City Councilman, is asking the court to void the Atascadero City Council’s June 9 vote, for court costs, attorney’s fees and $2.4 million in damages.

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Very stupid move by the two council members. Even though the proposed project was a complete eye sore and terribly out of character for neighborhood, they were wrong with the way they proceeded. Now it looks like it’s going to cost the city of Atascadero and its residents a mighty amount. Shame on them both.

As for Scott Newton, please take your ugly project somewhere else, say like Pismo Beach.

Well so far so good for the developer ….Now to wait and see if judge reverses decision due to pressure or suddenly announces retirement