Sunday, December 4 , 2016, 2:58 pm | Fair 64º


Local News

Homeowners Awarded Attorneys Fees in Suit Against City

The five homeowners who successfully sued the city for the right to rebuild after the Tea Fire were awarded attorneys fees this week, in addition to the damages already given by a Superior Court judge.

Luke Brost, Lavell and Louise Canley, and Ruben and Pamela Barajas own property in Sycamore Canyon and lost their homes in the November 2008 Tea Fire. They tried to rebuild, but Santa Barbara wouldn’t issue permits since the land is within the Conejo Road Landslide Area.

The homeowners sued the city, represented by attorney Joseph Liebman, and Judge Thomas Anderle awarded them $126,000 in damages.

In a tentative ruling this week, Anderle also granted their motion for the city to pay their attorneys’ fees, engineering and design fees, and building and safety code expert fees for a total of $410,413.78.

The city argued the fees were unreasonably high since they exceed the damages award, but Anderle said “there is simply no legal support for city’s argument.”

Since the civil court case, the city has amended its Conejo landslide area ordinance so homes can be rebuilt there if they were lost during the Tea Fire or if existing homes are destroyed in any casualty afterward.

City Attorney Steve Wiley said at the time that the ordinance was amended because there isn’t enough evidence that the area is dangerous enough to prohibit new construction in case of a fire or other disaster.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >