Cemex filed a civil-rights lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court last month in hopes of blocking the city of Santa Clarita from annexing the land Cemex wants to mine.
Without explaining in its complaint exactly how Cemex Inc. – a U.S. corporate division of a larger foreign multinational corporation – is a protected class under federal civil rights statutes, it asserts that it is covered under them; and it claims the courts recently awarded $100 million in damages to a pair of companies under those statutes “for constitutional violations of public officials.”
At issue is city-owned land that the city wants to annex. The land sits immediately outside the city’s border in Soledad Canyon, and the city wants to bring it into the city.
The trouble for the city all along has been that while it owns the land, it doesn’t own the mineral rights. Those belong to the federal government, and in 1990 the Bureau of Land Management awarded contracts to Transit Mixed Concrete to upturn 78 million tons of earth to produce 56.1 million tons of concrete aggregates.
Transit Mixed never started mining, and the company was bought by the larger Southdown Inc., which was subsequently bought by the even larger Cemex.
The city has ardently opposed the mining project and has taken many steps over the years to block it, including purchasing the land a number of years ago.
In 2004 the county of Los Angeles completed its pro-forma environmental review of the mining project and the city sued the county, alleging deficiencies in the procedure. The city tried to annex the property at that time, but the matter was tied up in court.
The upshot was a 2006 settlement agreement in which, Cemex now says, the city agreed to prepare a full-blown environmental impact report for any annexation of the property in question.
Dial up the clock to November 2017, and the city issued a negative declaration for its latest annexation plan. A negative declaration is considerably less stringent than an environmental impact report – and in any event, Cemex alleges, it’s not what the city agreed to do.
Cemex also claims the city didn’t give it adequate notice about the annexation.
Thus, Cemex is suing for breach of contract (the terms of the 2006 settlement agreement), breach of “the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” and civil rights violations “based upon the City’s numerous and deliberate violations of a settlement agreement.”
Cemex is asking the court to grant an injunction to block the annexation and “compensatory damages in an amount to be determined” in a civil-rights trial.
The Santa Clarita City Council is scheduled to discuss the litigation behind closed doors Tuesday.