Santa Clarita City Attorney Joseph Montes said the city would seek to halt any interim changes to the environment at Camp Scott through legal action should those changes begin to occur before a court rules on the lawsuit filed against L.A. County, he said during the Tuesday City Council meeting.
The city had already announced earlier this month that it had filed a lawsuit against L.A. County following the Board of Supervisors’ decision to reopen Camp Scott on Bouquet Canyon Road as the future housing site for violent youth offenders.
“We’re not aware of any physical activity taking place on the site,” said Montes during the Tuesday night meeting. “If to the extent of any physical activity taking place on the site in terms of changing the environment in any way, we will be going into court to seek an injunction to stop that activity.”
“Additionally, should the county Board of Supervisors continue to move forward with actions with regard to Camp Scott, any subsequent actions that they take … will cause us to evaluate whether the complaint needs to be amended to include those actions,” Montes added.
Montes also informed the council that the lawsuit against the opening of Camp Scott as the housing site for the county’s most violent youth offenders was moving forward through the legal process, with discovery documents set to be released to them over the coming months.
“We will be submitting a comprehensive Public Records Act request to the county to gather all the relevant documents, compile the records, and submit that to the court, after which time the court will set a trial and a briefing schedule,” Montes said. “It’s anticipated that the record preparation and gathering of documents will take between 60 and 90 days. And then we should have a hearing date.”
Citing environmental and safety concerns for both the nearby residents as well as the proposed Camp Scott population, Mayor Laurene Weste said during a press conference on April 18 that the lawsuit filed by the city, if successful, will require L.A. County to follow the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA.
“The city remains unwavering and will remain vigilant on the issue, (standing) firmly that CEQA does apply to the actions taken by the Board of Supervisors, especially given the dangerous environmental factors affecting Camp Scott, and the county’s unmistakable commitment and formal decision to proceed with repurposing the use of Camp Scott,” Weste said during the press conference at the camp, which previously housed non-violent offenders and was closed in 2020.
According to the state’s website, CEQA requires state and local agencies to “disclose to the public the significant environmental effects of a proposed discretionary project” unless the project is deemed otherwise exempt.
The filing of the lawsuit comes roughly a month after a motion was passed in a 4-1 vote by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors — with 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the Santa Clarita Valley, being the only dissenting vote — ordering county staff and the L.A. County Probation Department to begin transitioning over the Department of Juvenile Justice’s entire male youth population to Camp Scott, located on Bouquet Canyon Road, and Campus Kilpatrick in Malibu.
Th motion approved by the Board of Supervisors last month authorizes the transition of the county’s male youth population of violent offenders to Camp Scott without a CEQA study having been completed.
Although county officials were instructed to complete and return with the finalized environmental report in the coming months, the Santa Clarita lawsuit would force the Department of Juvenile Justice to complete a CEQA compliance report before any “alternative facilities are dismissed,” Weste said.