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HCN and EBRPD intervene in UC vs FEMA lawsuit

November 11, 2017

As you may know, UC Berkeley filed suit against FEMA asserting that FEMA unjustly denied them grant funding for their plans to remove 100% of three tree species in the "hill campus". 

 

HCN decided to petition the court to "intervene" in the suit as we were concerned about the possibility that if UC were to prevail the settlement agreement between HCN and FEMA could be undone. Over the strenuous objections of UC's lawyer, the Federal Magistrate decided to allow HCN to intervene in the case.

 

Subsequent to HCN's intervention motion, EBRPD decided to intervene as well, most likely to protect the funding windfall they received when FEMA awarded EBRPD with the moneys that were pulled back from UC and the City of Oakland. The Federal Magistrate approved their request.

 

As a result of these moves HCN is now working cooperatively with both EBRPD and FEMA in defending FEMA from UC's lawsuit.

 

This is significant in that it marks an enormous change from what was the status quo 5 years ago, when HCN filed suit against FEMA, EBRPD and Oakland over the FEMA EIS.

 

At this point UC and its allies are the outliers, while more moderate voices are driving these programs. 

 

As for these outliers, the Sierra Club still has an appeal pending, arguing that their lawsuit against FEMA (filed shortly after the HCN suit) shouldn't have been dismissed by the magistrate. The Claremont Canyon Conservancy has publicly stated that they support both the Sierra Club appeal and the new UC lawsuit.

 

What's interesting is that of the original ~$6m FEMA grant funding all $6m has been awarded to EBRPD and is being spent implementing effective fire risk mitigation measures. If either the Sierra Club appeal or the UC lawsuit were to be successful the effect would be to once again slow down vegetation management work and as EBRPD said in their intervention filing, if UC were successful in its lawsuit "it may jeopardize not only the Park District’s funding, but also the Park District’s ability to fully implement the Fire Plan and, consequently, its ability to perform vegetation management work to protect residents of the East Bay Hills from wildfire risk."

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