January 2023 Floods Blamed on Permitting Delays by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife – Lawsuits Filed

January 2024

California Land Use Law & Policy Reporter, Volume 33, Number 4

Rainstorms in early January 2023 resulted in significant flooding from creeks and streams within Merced County, including Miles Creek, Bear Creek, and Black Rascal Creek. On October 18, 2023, the City of Merced (City), a local school district, and 12 agricultural groups filed a lawsuit against the CDFW for damages caused by the flooding. [City of Merced v. State of Cal., Case No. 23CV-0384) (Sac.Super.Ct.)]. According to those plaintiffs, CDFW’s failure to grant streambed alterations permits prevented local agencies from performing necessary streambed maintenance. On December 6, 2023, a group of residents, business owners, and farmers filed a lawsuit for damages caused by the same flood event but also cast blame on the City, the County of Merced (County), and Merced Irrigation District (MID), who are charged with maintaining the Merced waterways that were the source of the flooding.

Subscribers to the California Land Use Law & Policy Reporter can read the full legislative update here.