The ruling comes after the city of Patterson in October 2011 joined a class-action lawsuit, initially filed by local residents J. and Pat Wells, to approve the annexation and allow local residents the right to elect a TID board representative.
Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Roger Beauchesne concurred with a resolution filed by TID in May 2012, which sought to block the annexation. The resolution stated the move would allegedly create undue hardships for the utility because it would need to supply the West Side with water.
“The court finds that TID’s resolution is based upon written findings supported by substantial evidence in the record that the request is justified by a financial or service related concern,” Beauchesne wrote in a one-page statement April 22.
The district has supplied electricity since December 2003 to a 225-square-mile swath of the West Side formerly served by PG&E that includes about 10,000 ratepayers in Patterson, Crows Landing, Del Puerto Canyon and Diablo Grande. Yet because TID’s Westside Service Area is not annexed, it is not part of an area governed by the district’s board of directors and no one in that area is represented directly.
In briefs presented before the court April 4, Dennis Beougher, an attorney for the Wellses and special counsel for the city of Patterson, sought an injunction to stop the TID resolution that aimed to keep the Stanislaus Local Agency Formation Commission from ruling on the city’s annexation request.
LAFCo rules on annexations of government agencies and special districts within the county, such as TID.
Neither Beougher nor TID attorney David Hobbs would speak on the judge’s decision until the Patterson City Council had been briefed on the matter.
Beougher has said in the past, however, that his clients have no desire for irrigation water, and he has contended that the district would not be legally bound to provide water to the West Side if annexation were to occur.
Hobbs has argued that the annexation would force the district to serve the West Side with irrigation water because of state water code requirements. The district’s present water customers would have their allotments reduced by 13 percent as a consequence, TID officials have argued.
City officials expect that the council will be briefed on the case sometime later this month.
• Contact Nick Rappley at 892-6187, ext. 31 or firstname.lastname@example.org.