CASTRO VALLEY -- Alameda County has been ordered to pay almost $2 million to a company after losing a lengthy court battle over a three-year delay in the construction of a storage facility.
The case revolved around the passage in 2000 of Measure D, which restricts development in certain unincorporated areas. At the time, Lockaway Storage was in the process of getting final approvals to begin construction on a facility on the Interstate 580 frontage road between Castro Valley and Dublin. The company had received its initial permit in 1999.
At first, the county allowed the project to move forward despite the passage of Measure D, said Timothy Kassouni, attorney for Lockaway.
"Two years go by, and Lockaway continues to work with the planning department," he said. "After about half a million in development costs, at the eleventh hour, the county says, 'We don't think you can build the facility because of Measure D.'"
Lockaway ran into problems when it sought an extension in 2003 to its original use permit, according to Brian Washington, Alameda County chief assistant county counsel.
"The standard provision with a conditional use permit is that you have to build within three years," Washington said.
County officials maintained that because the facility had not been built during the time of the original permit, Measure D now applied.
"In 2003, county officials said pursuant to the language of Measure D, Lockaway no longer had any rights to construct the facility," he said.
Lockaway took the county to court. A Superior Court judge sided with the company in 2005, allowing the boat and RV storage facility to be built at 8555 Dublin Canyon Road.
"That wasn't the end of the case," Kassouni said. "It was three years of delays because of the county's wrongful interpretation of Measure D. Lockaway lost three years of income, and when they were able to build, construction costs had increased by about 30 percent."
The company sued to recover lost income, increased costs and attorney fees, and an Alameda County Superior Court judge awarded it $1.7 million. The First District Court of Appeal upheld that decision in May.
Alameda County then appealed to the state Supreme Court, which denied review of the case in August, letting the lower court order stand.
In addition to the $1.7 million, the county also paid Lockaway $216,000 to cover attorney fees and other costs related to the appeals. County supervisors approved the settlement in November, with the money coming out of the general fund, ending the lengthy court case.
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.