Inland Empire News

Old Fire: San Bernardino County sues California for $9M

Friday, March 01, 2013

Cedar Glen, a mountain community with about 500 residents, was devastated by the 2003 Old Fire. Almost every home was destroyed.

Ten years later, Shannon Henyan has rebuilt. But life remains a struggle.

First off, they still don't have their own water company. Residents have to buy water from the county, which they say is very expensive.

So residents thought they were getting good news when the county pledged millions of dollars in redevelopment money to help rebuild Cedar Glen.

But now the county's ability to spend that money is in jeopardy. Since the state decided to end redevelopment programs, that money has to be returned to the county at large.

In an effort to keep that money set aside specifically for Cedar Glen, the county has decided to sue the state.

"The county of San Bernardino made a commitment to the people of Cedar Glen, and what we want to do is keep that commitment, and if the state takes that money away, we can't keep that promise," said Scott Vanhorne, field representative for San Bernardino County.

Not only does the county want to use this money to help residents with the water situation, but they also want to widen the roads to make it easier for firefighters to get up and down.

"We made a promise and want to keep that promise," Vanhorne said.

However, the state says they don't know why the county is even suing.

"Not only is the entire $9 million loan going to be repaid, the county will get $2.5 million on top of that - with no strings attached - in property tax that had gone to redevelopment," said H.D. Palmer, state deputy director for external affairs.

Of course, the state says that could take several years. Whatever the case, people like Henyan are fed up. She doesn't think they will ever see the $9 million.

"This money was granted to us, not the county, not to the state, but to Cedar Glen," she said.

So with the state and county now engaged in a legal fight 10 years after the fire, residents like Henyan are still waiting for the financial help they were promised.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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fire, brush fire, legal, inland empire news, rob mcmillan
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