Procedural Posture

Procedural Posture

Cross-appeals were taken from a judgment of the Superior Court of Sacramento County (California), which, in three coordinated cases that included a validation action brought by plaintiff irrigation district, found invalid several agreements relating to a settlement agreement whereby the irrigation district agreed to provide water to other agencies in exchange for money to fund conservation efforts.

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Overview

A joint powers agreement imposed an unconditional contractual obligation on the state to pay excess mitigation costs. Construing the agreement to render it lawful pursuant to Civ. Code, § 1643, the court held that the joint powers agreement did not violate the appropriation requirement in Cal. Const., art. XVI, § 7, because no party could enforce the obligation by taking money from the state without an appropriation. Because the mitigation costs were contingent, the constitutional limit on indebtedness in Cal. Const., art. XVI, § 1, did not apply. There was no conflict of interest under Gov. Code, § 1090, absent evidence that any negotiator had a financial interest in the agreements. Wat. Code, § 22762, specifically authorized the validation action. The trial court lacked jurisdiction in the validation action to rule on compliance with federal environmental laws. Wat. Code, §§ 1810-1814, did not require any findings by the county from which the water was being transferred. Several parties actively involved in the water transfer were necessary parties under Pub. Resources Code, § 21167.6.5, subd. (a), but were not indispensable parties under Code Civ. Proc., § 389, subd. (b).

Outcome

The court reversed and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings