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Meeting Date: February 25, 2003

Subject/Title: Reject claims presented by Carlos and Carmen Briones 

Submitted by: Karen Diaz, City Clerk/Director of Administrative Services

Approved by: John Stevenson, City Manager

Reject claims presented by Carlos and Carmen Briones as recommended by the by the City’s third-party insurance adjuster, Contra Costa County Municipal Risk Management Insurance Authority and the City Attorney.


On September 18, 2002, Carlos and Carman Briones presented two claims each in excess of $25,000.00.

Claim A alleges claimants incurred unnecessary expenses while placing a modular home on their premises because of negligence of City personnel in the Planning Department. Erroneous information was allegedly given to the claimants by City staff. The alleged erroneous information is as follows:

(1) The modular homes must be connected to the existing home.

City’s Response: The City informed the claimants that in order to place a second unit on an existing lot that it required a conditional use permit for the second unit. If second unit was placed on another lot, the City required a separate well and separate water system as required by the Brentwood Municipal Code, as a well and septic tank cannot cross property lines and serve more than one residence. The claimant was told that they could attach the unit as a building addition provided a letter was received from the Contra Costa Environmental Health Division that an expansion would not overburden the existing septic field and system.

(2) A separate septic tank is required for the modular home (in addition to the existing tank for the existing home). 

City’s Response: The City of Brentwood Municipal Code requires that there shall be a separate connection to the sewer system for each building or structure served, except that the Director of Public Works may allow two or more buildings or structures on the same lot if connected to the City’s sewer system. B.M.C. section 13.04.080(F). There are no public sewer services within 300 feet of the claimants' lot. The City informed the claimant that the City required written documentation from Contra Costa Health Department certifying that it would have a functioning system with the addition of the modular home to her existing home.

3) The same PG &E power supply must be used for the modular and existing home.

City’s Response: The City does not represent PG&E and this is a matter between PG&E and the claimants. 

The unnecessary expenses are for percolation tests to connect to a separate septic system later to be told that the claimants could connect to their existing septic system. Also, costs were incurred for PG&E service for their existing panel when the claimants were later informed that a separate panel could be used for each home. Further damages are claimed for permanent increased costs of financing and thus diminished value due to the mixture of a modular integrated into their existing home. The claimants first learned of the increased financing costs by letter from Diablo Funding Group dated March 22, 2002. 

The process to add the modular home began in May 2000. Claimant requested several percolation tests between May and September 2000. The claimants were in communication with the Contra Costa Health Services Department (CCHSD) in June to August 2000 regarding the percolation tests. In fact, the August 17, 2000 letter from CCHSD to the claimants indicated that one of the conditions for approval to install a septic system was the issuance of a letter from the City of Brentwood or other local agency approving an application to connect to the sewer immediately upon failure of one or both septic systems. There was a Septic System Permit Application was filed with the Contra Costa Environmental Health Division on August 18, 2000.

A City of Brentwood Building Permit Application was requested on June 21, 2000, to add a 61 x 26 modular to existing house.

There is correspondence, dated August 18, 2000, from Ironhouse Sanitary District to the claimants advising that although it presently has jurisdiction to provide public sewers to the area of the claimants’ home, the claimants property may be de-annexed into the City of Brentwood in September or October 2000. The area being developed north and east of their property by Pulte would soon have a sewer main. It further advises that if the claimants’ septic system is not in failure, they may want to wait to install a new one and instead connect to the sewer main when installed.

There is an August 23, 2000 letter from the City of Brentwood to the claimants indicating that although their property is within the City of Brentwood, it is outside the current service boundaries for public sewer service. The letter indicated that the area may be annexed to the City for sewer service after a September 13, 2000 meeting.

Claim B involves a boundary dispute with Pulte Homes. Apparently there is litigation between the claimants and Pulte. It is alleged that Pulte removed a fence from the claimants’ rear property line and also removed boundary stakes. Allegedly, the City informed the claimants that Pulte was acting properly. As a result, it is alleged that the claimants have been damaged since the modular home was placed between two lots. The claimants allege they are unable to refinance their home at a good rate since the modular home is attached to the existing home.

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