Berry Creek residents sue county over alleged Brown Act violation
Lawsuit related to community fire station’s closure
BERRY CREEK >> A group of residents from Berry Creek announced Thursday that they are suing Butte County over what they claim to be a Brown Act violation surrounding a meeting linked to the closure of the community’s fire station.
The group issued a press release Thursday with details about its claim.
According to the release, Neil Meyer, Steve Sheldon, Barbara Garrett and Dori Hamil are alleging that the Butte County Board of Supervisors did not prominently post a link to the agenda for its Dec.13 meeting at least 72 hours in advance. Additionally, the group is claiming that the county didn’t provide a description of its business items and didn’t post the agenda in a retrievable format.
Butte County Public Information Officer Miranda McAfee-Bowersox said the county has yet to receive notification of the lawsuit as of 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
“We’re not aware of a lawsuit at this point,” McAfee-Bowersox said on behalf of the county.
Some plaintiffs, such as Meyer, provided a statement regarding the lawsuit and the closure of the three Amador Program fire stations.
“The supervisors delivered a sneak attack gutpunch to first responders and residents of Stirling City, Concow, Yankee Hill, Jarbo Gap and Berry Creek when they unanimously voted to eliminate yearround fire and emergency response at fire stations 13, 36 and 62,” Meyer said. “Our communities were already struggling with the ongoing public safety and insurance impacts of the Camp Fire and the North Complex Fire.”
Meyer said residents had to rely on rumors about the closures.
“We had no idea this was coming,” Meyer said. “Some rumors about closures started circulating in the afternoon of Dec. 12, but we couldn’t find anything about it. There was no current agenda on the main page of the Butte County website as required by law. There was nothing anywhere on any agenda about terminating the long-standing cooperative fire agreement or shuttering three fire stations.”
The plaintiffs have retained attorney Jeff Lewis to oversee the suit from their end.
“The Brown Act requires that residents have notice of what decisions makers are going to decide before they decide it,” Lewis said. “We filed this lawsuit as a last resort when the county refused to reschedule and re-notice this agenda item. We are confident the Superior Court will conclude that the law was not followed here and the residents of Butte County were not served well.”
A judicial declaration is being sought by the plaintiffs going forward with the goal of nullifying the closure of the stations.