William K. Koska has once again been named to the list of Top Lawyers in San Diego compiled by San Diego Magazine
The California Supreme Court made clear the power of the State Water Resources Control Board to define and limit prospective riparian water rights owners in the landmark decision of In re Waters of Long Valley Creek Stream Sys., (1979) 25 Cal 3rd. 339. The facts in the case are particularly instructive given the present supply of water in California. Litigation regarding water rights, dating to 1883, was part of the underlying history of the area which involved melting snow from the Sierra Nevada which flowed to the main tributaries of Long Valley Creek: Purdy Creek and Balls Creek. The remaining water flowed to lands where there is only enough water to irrigate a small portion of land.
As California enters its fifth consecutive year of drought, a forfeiture of water rights, or even a potential reduction in water rights are particularly contentious issues. The widely predicted “ El Nino “ never happened, and the 2016 reported rainfall in southern California at present is more than two inches less than at this time in 2015. Recent legislation, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), recent case law and at least one significant California Supreme Court case from 37 years ago present potential problems for water rights holders, no matter the type of rights they hold. Subsequent articles will discuss the Supreme Court case of 37 years ago and the SGMA. This article will discuss recent holdings of the California courts concerning water rights.
A homeowner in a sparsely populated, rural and largely undeveloped area of San Diego County owns a parcel of approximately 20 acres, comparable to some of his neighbors, but smaller than a number of other landowners, some of whom wish to develop portions of their existing land. The homeowner’s property is located at the end of the "tract" which encompasses all of the homeowners in the area, including the group who wish to become developers.
The same homeowner’s property is contiguous to a very large tract of property presumably approved for development. A dirt road easement exists on the homeowner’s property, one half owned by the homeowner and one half owned by one of the large property owners who wish to link to the development, and enhance the value of their properties to be developed.
The group wish to pave the dirt easement and connect it to the large tract of homes proposed by using the easement on the homeowner’s property. If the easement is paved, it will permit access to both the “ approved tract “, and the proposed acreage of the property owners by way of several freeway exits. Paving the easement will make the easement literally a "raceway" and or a shortcut in times of congested traffic (almost daily) during the week.
The homeowner has a designated open space running across his property and over the 20 acres, including an area crossing the easement in question.
After numerous pieces of correspondence with the County, County Counsel, meetings with County personnel, County Counsel and others involved, and various site visits, the County did not permit a secondary access route to be placed on this easement.
A landlord rents a brand new free-standing condominium in an upscale neighborhood to a single professional for one year on a CAR form lease. The landscaping is not complete and some of the finishing touches of the house are not complete. The landlord provides a written amendment that, among other things, reduces the rent by roughly 10% until the landscaping is 90% complete. There is no further definition of this provision.
When the tenant moves in, a number of serious negative things happen almost immediately, having nothing to do with landscaping, though that is still an issue. The tenant demands that the problems be fixed and the landlord waffles on some of the requests and refuses others almost completely. The tenant pays for portions of the cost of fixing the problems, unrelated to the landscaping. Two persons intervene for the landlord and both are combative to the tenant and unsuccessful in solving the problems.
The person doing the landscaping is threatening at best. The landscaping plans are changed and extended dramatically requiring permits which are never obtained. There was no way to measure when the landscaping would have been "90%" complete and it was nowhere near 50% at the time the tenant gave notice. After an in-person meeting one month into the tenancy, the tenant gives notice 60 days after the lease began. Suit is threatened by the landlord and mediation is demanded and held. The case settled for significantly less than one month’s rent. The tenant had several ways to pursue the landlord successfully, but declined to do so.
It is important to be aware that amendments to leases, even CAR forms, need to be specific. It is also important to note that the CAR forms do not "lock a tenant" into a bad and or unlivable situation. Tenants can and should, if they have the facts, be prepared to pursue the landlord when the factual pattern is present to justify the tenant’s vacating the premises, and attorney fees may be recovered.
San Diego Magazine, for the third year in a row, has named William K. Koska to its list of Top Lawyers of 2015. Mr. Koska was named for his work as a Real Estate and Land Use specialist. Mr. Koska, and only one other attorney in San Diego were named in this category of specialties.
San Diego Magazine states in their web-site that in order "To compile a list of top area lawyers, we invited LexisNexis@Martindale-Hubbell, the company that has long set the standard for peer review ratings, to share its list of local lawyers who have reached the highest levels of ethical standards and professional excellence."
San Diego Magazine has released the Top Lawyers of 2014 which includes Mr. William Koska. San Diego Magazine says on their website: "To compile a list of top area lawyers, we invited LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell®, the company that has long set the standard for peer review ratings, to share its list of local lawyers who have reached the highest levels of ethical standards and professional excellence."
William K. Koska has been named in San Diego Magazine’s Top Lawyers of 2014 list for his work as a Real Estate and Land Use specialist. This is the second year in a row for this honor. Only Mr. Koska and one other attorney are named in the list for the category of Real Estate and Land Use practice.
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When any commercial building constructed before 1979 is sold, the buyers have 15 days from the date of escrow closure to comply with the Connelly Act, Calif. Health & Safety Code Section 25915, also known as the asbestos notification rule. The type of notification is important as we will see in the example of a recent transaction.
The largest asbestos fine ever levied in San Diego County is settled for less than 8% of the total fines assessed. How did this happen? See the narrative for a first-hand account of the details.
Mr. Koska recently settled two Proposition 65 cases for two International corporations. Both claims involved the chemical DEHP, a phthalate which is on the California list of 800 chemicals deemed to be potential causes of cancer or reproductive damage.
William K. Koska is on San Diego Magazine's Top Lawyers of 2013 list.