Off Beat: Fighting for fish pays
This column has paid some attention in the last few years to the ongoinig litigation about the Yuba River fishery and endangered fish.
It's been a lengthy process. Not surprisingly, the enviros have scored some major victories over the feds.
Since they're the prevailing party, attorneys for the environmental groups have submitted their legal bill to a federal judge to award fees.
And he did. A lot.
Attorneys for the prevailing plaintiffs initially asked for — wait for it — $2.3 million under the Endangered Species Act.
The request went to U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton in Sacramento, who has had the pretty thankless task of sorting through the science, regulation and politics of the issue.
The Yuba has long been a litigious river, although it's never been recognized that way by the outside world.
So, Karlton came up with his ruling last month.
"Here, plaintiffs have prevailed on the merits of at least some of their claims, and achieved a remedial order requiring a new biological opinion and interim remedial measures to protect listed species during the remand period," Karlton wrote. "The court therefore concludes that plaintiffs are entitled to fees under the Endangered Species Act."
Karlton's opinion noted that attorneys for the plaintiffs have spent 5,800 hours on the case, so far.
That's 241 days, if they worked 24 hours a day. At eight hours a day, it's 725 days.
Karlton didn't agree with the 5,800 hours, reducing that amount by 20 percent.
In the end, he approved a payment of $1.87 million. That's money the feds will have to pay. And the feds are you.
With the economy in a funk, you have to wonder what's going on with the owner of the Yuba Sutter Mall.
In a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Steadfast Companies acknowledged that the economic downturn "has had an adverse impact upon certain prior real estate programs."
And one of those is the mall.
Steadfast Yuba City I LLC and Steadfast Yuba City II are "in the process of restructuring existing debt with their lenders," the SEC filing noted, without providing details.
Steadfast, based in Southern California, bought the mall in 2004 from Yuba Plaza Associates for a reported $36 million. It obtained a loan for that amount from GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corp.
Yuba Plaza sold a 40.39 percent interest in the mall to Steadfast Yuba City I LLC. The remaining 59.61 percent was sold to Steadfast Yuba City II LLC.