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Drakes Bay pro bono case, contracts and homeowner rights

Letter to the Editor

By

Editor, Index-Tribune:

Regarding Drakes Bay Oyster Farm’s ongoing litigation: Pro Bono work is not free. It comes at considerable cost to the legal firm providing the services. It is not a tax-deductible expense for the law firm or lawyers themselves. Pro Bono services do not necessarily cover all expenses associated with a case. Each situation is under its own terms.

At this point the legal expenses associated with continuing the legal battle are very, very high, particularly for attempting to take it to the Supreme Court. The court would also have to agree to hear the case. The 9th Circuit, three-judge ruling included the conclusion that Drake’s Oyster Company’s argument was unlikely to prevail. This makes it even less likely the case will go further.

Drakes Bay is not private property. Drakes Bay belongs to the Federal Government as a protected wilderness area. The issue of eminent domain is irrelevant to Drakes Oyster Co. and their oyster farm in Drakes Bay. The oyster company had a permit from the U.S. Dept. of Interior to farm oysters. A permit is a legal document, considered a contract, in this case a lease, to farm oysters for a specific period of time and conditions. The permit/lease expired. The Interior Department decided not to renew the permit/lease on environmental grounds.

As for the California Homeowners Bill of Rights, the California Homeowner Bill of Rights became law on Jan. 1, 2013 to ensure fair lending and borrowing practices for California homeowners. The laws are designed to guarantee basic fairness and transparency for homeowners in the foreclosure process. The Drakes Bay issue does not involve foreclosure.

Chris Scott

Sonoma

  • Phineas Worthington

    The real underlying issue is that the EPA policy from settled cases views all human use of land as a form of harm. And it is their job to prevent that harm. New precedent is needed.