Tehachapi News

Judge may rule this week on water district motion to split lawsuit against city

- BY CLAUDIA ELLIOTT Claudia Elliott is a freelance journalist and former editor of the Tehachapi News. She lives in Tehachapi and can be reached by email: claudia@claudiaell­iott.net.

A Sacramento County Superior Court judge is expected to rule later this week on a request by the Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District to split its lawsuit against the city of Tehachapi into two parts.

Officially, the legal action requested by the water district is called bifurcatio­n.

In a filing Feb. 28, the district asked for its concerns about the city of Tehachapi’s approval of the Sage Ranch residentia­l developmen­t project to be considered separately from its claim that the city has a “pattern and practice” of not complying with California’s environmen­tal law.

The district’s Sept. 21, 2021, lawsuit against the city was filed after the city approved the 995-unit Sage Ranch residentia­l developmen­t proposed for 138 acres of vacant land near Tehachapi High School.

The city has disputed the district’s allegation­s but seemed to support the request for bifurcatio­n in a statement earlier this month.

However, on March 13, attorneys for the city and developer of Sage Ranch filed a brief in opposition to the motion to bifurcate.

In 13 pages, attorneys for the city and the “Real Parties in Interest’’ outlined their concerns. Jeffrey Ciachurski and three related Greenbriar companies have been identified as “Real Parties in Interest.”

On March 17 the water district filed a response to the opposition and about 90 pages of documents addressing what it claims is evidence of the city’s lack of cooperatio­n with discovery.

The city has said it has complied with all requests for discovery.

The city and Ciachurski declined to comment on the case.

However, on March 14 water district General Manager Tom Neisler said the public agency will continue to pursue all four causes of action, regardless of the judge’s ruling on the motion to bifurcate.

“Unfortunat­ely, the parties that are most impacted by the respondent’s reversal of their position on bifurcatio­n … are the taxpayers of the city of Tehachapi.

As customers of the city and taxpayers within our district, they are left funding both sides of this litigation.”


A tentative ruling on the request is expected by 2 p.m. March 23. Whether a hearing will be held on March 24 depends upon the ruling and whether a hearing is requested and parties notified by 4 p.m. March 23.

In Sacramento County Superior Court, the case is number 2022-80003892.

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