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County’s suit against state set for Friday

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Sonoma County’s suit against the state to recover redevelopment funding is scheduled for a court hearing at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 23, in Sacramento Superior Court.

Sonoma County filed the suit against the state back in January to get back $9.5 million in funds for Phase 2 of the Highway 12 project in the Springs, and $6.6 million for Roseland Village in Santa Rosa. The suit also seeks to recover more than $2.2 million that the state demanded from the county without any written explanation.

Both Highway 12 and Roseland were part of the now-dissolved county Redevelopment Agency projects. When the Redevelopment Agency was dissolved in February 2012, as the result of a state Supreme Court decision in December 2011, the two projects, both long in the works, were thrown into limbo. The Highway 12 project, which was for sidewalks and streetlights and turn lanes, among other improvements, was only a couple of months from going out to bid.

The suit wants the court to rule that the agreements between the county’s Oversight Board and the county agencies for Highway 12 and Roseland Village are valid contracts, and that the Oversight Board can use future tax revenues from the “Redevelopment Property Tax Trust Fund” and cash on hand, to complete the projects.

The county could know prior to the hearing whether or not it will prevail. County Counsel Steve Shupe said that in cases such as the one Sonoma County filed, the presiding judge would issue a tentative ruling in advance of the hearing date, which would become the final decision unless one of the parties requests oral arguments.

“In this case, it is certain that one party will request oral arguments,” he said. “Unless the judge hears something compelling at oral arguments, the tentative rulings usually become the final
ruling.”

Juliet Cox, with the firm Goldfarb & Lipman, will be representing the county in the hearing.