After years of legal wrangling and court battles between the city of Cave Junction and Siskiyou Pines Development, LLC, owned by David and Nancy Garcia, Judge Robert S. Bain ruled July 18 that it’s finally over, dismissing Garcia’s case with prejudice.
In 2022 Garcia and his wife filed a lawsuit against the city that included the mayor and city recorder personally, seeking $8.4 million from the city and therefore the taxpayers of Cave Junction.
The Garcias sought relief, claiming intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. Judge Bain wrote in his judgment that he “could not find any evidence in the record that the plaintiff can show the defendants violated an objective standard like a statute, the court finds that the plaintiff (Garcia) cannot show these defendants used improper means.”
Bain continued writing, “The plaintiff cannot prove causation of damages resulting from deferred action on the plat map because on December 11 2020 the city lost jurisdiction when plaintiffs won a mandamus action. The court grants defendants’ motion on the ground that plaintiff cannot show causation.”
In the formal legal world, a court case that is dismissed with prejudice means that it is dismissed permanently. A case dismissed with prejudice is over and done with, once and for all, and can’t be brought back to court.
Cave Junction city recorder Rebecca Patton commented, “This lawsuit was an unnecessary, unmerited act that caused everyone, including our citizens, a lot of money and time. All of that time and money would have been better invested in working together to actually build homes for our community. Albeit a stressful circumstance, we learned a lot about the legal process and how to address difficult situations with confidence and purpose. Certainly, we will see benefits from this experience.”
Garcia’s attorney has 30 days to file an appeal but it must be for some legal error in the judge’s decision.
In response to an Illinois Valley News email, Garcia wrote, “All I can say is that we are not finished with this. My lawyer is working on this.”
The city had more documentation of interactions with Garcia than could be printed, so the following is a summary of the history and timeline of Siskiyou Pines Development vs. city of Cave Junction:
This case goes back to August 2017 when Dave Garcia submitted a pre-application for a zone change for 39-08-16 Tax Lot 1400 and 1403, but ultimately decided a zone change would take too long. Instead, Garcia decided to ask for a conditional use permit to build two duplexes on land that is zoned residential. According to Cave Junction code, multi-family lots in a single-family zone must be a minimum of 1300 sq ft., which each of the two lots greatly exceeded.
Garcia submitted the request Oct. 16, 2017 and was approved during a Nov. 13, 2017 public hearing with conditions.
- Feb. 28, 2019: Garcia met with Mayor Meadow Martell to have some questions answered. During that meeting it was explained to Garcia that he is currently approved for one duplex on tax lot 1400 and one on 1403, as well as a 15 tax-lot subdivision on tax lot 1403. Garcia was also advised that he will need to have his final plat recorded and complete his conditions of approval before he can start building. Garcia said he understood, and that they were almost done building the bridge which was expected to be done in a few weeks. Garcia was advised that if he wants to change anything he would have to start with the city and follow the same process that every other builder does.
- May 2019 through March 2020: Garcia was in violation of the city’s RV ordinance; had to change his railcar bridge up to proper code. He failed to pay system development charges required to be paid prior to issuing zoning clearance (which delayed building startup).
- July 7, 2020: Contract Planner Ryan Nolan had a meeting with city staff and reviewed the conditions of approval to make sure the subdivision had completed all conditions. After the review, a list of incomplete conditions was sent in a certified letter to Garcia notifying him of what still needed to be completed in order for the city to sign off on his final plat.
-Aug. 25, 2020: The city received a letter from Mr. Garcia’s attorney stated that “pursuant to the city’s letter dated July 7, 2020, all conditions for the approval of the above subdivision have been completed and met. He is requesting that the final plat be signed off on at this time.”
- Sept. 23, 2020: There was a site visit that included Garcia, engineering and city staff and it was recommended that in order for the final plat to be signed that Garcia should get a bond and sign a developer agreement. If a year expired and the necessary work remained incomplete, the city could use the bond to finish the work.. Ultimately, Garcia decided not to get the bond and started the legal process to force the city to sign off on the plat.
- Dec. 12, 2020: Garcia filed a writ of mandamus. A mandamus is an order from a court to an inferior government official ordering the government official to properly fulfill their official duties or correct an abuse of discretion. In this case, Garcia was trying to force the city to sign off on the plat. However the case took so long due to summer vacations and COVID-19 restrictions it wasn’t settled until Nov. 2, 2021 when Judge Pat Wolke ruled the city should sign off. The city officially signed the plat Dec. 9, 2021.
-April 8, 2022: Cameron Smith from Public Works went to do a footing inspection as requested at 1112 Cascade Loop and 1110 Cascade Loop. At this time, Smith noticed that 1108 Cascade Loop already had footings laid out without being inspected. Upon review, Garcia had turned in another incomplete conditional use permit March 18, 2022 for a duplex, but the lot is Single Family Residential and thus can not have a duplex upon it. A cease and desist letter for 1108 Cascade Loop was sent out April 12, 2022.
-April 29, 2022: A certified letter was sent to Garcia regarding 1260 N Sawyer Ave. due to several trailers on the property. Included was a copy of the code that stated only one RV can be present while you are building a home as long as you have a current permit, which has to be renewed every six months before the current permit expires and there is a $100 fee.
-May 2022: Siskiyou Pines Development was advised that its building applications were incomplete. Garcia sent his engineer Dave Gowers to City Hall the next day with a new site plan with correct square footage and setbacks for the garage and house. Gowers wanted to know when they could expect the zoning clearance to be signed off, and was told the city does not have access to the Siskiyou Pines subdivision because they have a large gate blocking access to the property, which the city previously asked Garcia to leave open.
More than a year after they started building, as of July 26, 2023, not one home has been sold, let alone completed.