County ups spending on SPAWN

02/14/2013

County supervisors in a protracted legal battle with a wildlife conservation group agreed this week to increase spending on a lawsuit already draining hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars from the county. The decision on Tuesday authorized the county counsel’s office to supply an extra $50,000 to Sacramento-based law firm Remy Moose Manley LLP, to which the county already has paid a total of $225,000 to defend against a lawsuit brought by the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN). The call for additional money, which will help cover court costs and administrative work done by legal experts, comes after SPAWN appealed a ruling by a Marin Superior Court judge rejecting the group’s assertion that the county is not adequately protecting the environment and wildlife in waterways throughout San Geronimo Valley. The group has long argued the county, whose efforts with the Marin Municipal Water District to improve waterways have cost about $2 million in the past 10 years, is overlooking environmental and wildlife standards. The ruling nevertheless led to a ban on development near creeks throughout the valley until the county refines an ordinance involving building and other policies near streams. The county expects to make public its stream ordinance in March, before seeking approval from supervisors in June. The move to increase spending indicates the county’s unwavering effort to bring an end to a lawsuit whose implications have brought distress to a growing chorus of valley residents calling for relief from building restrictions they say see as unnecessary. “Here, we are being challenged for the most insignificant issue,” supervisor Steve Kinsey said at Tuesday’s meeting. “Each of these dollars we ship off to [legal] experts is wasted money.”