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3 Cities Sue County Over Plant Bidding Procedure

In litigation pitting government against government, three North County cities have sued San Diego County, claiming it has not followed proper procedure in negotiating a contract for the proposed San Marcos trash-to-energy plant.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed Tuesday afternoon in Vista Superior Court, are Escondido, Carlsbad and Encinitas, which jointly argue that the county has violated state laws requiring competitive bidding on public-works projects.

The suit claims that the county erred in meeting privately with North County Resource Recovery Associates (NCRRA), which wants to build a $220-million trash-burning power plant next to a county landfill in San Marcos.

“The county has negotiated in secret, using proposals which have not been made a part of the public record,” said Jeffrey Epp, senior deputy city attorney of Escondido.

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The county is required to put the project up to public, competitive bidding, the suit alleges. A previous contract between NCRRA and the county was ruled void by a San Diego Superior Court judge last year, setting the stage for new contract talks between the county and the developer.

The lawsuit seeks a court order stopping the negotiations and asks that the proposed contract and development terms being considered by county supervisors be made public.

The three-city suit brings to 11 the number of lawsuits--including ones pressed by property owners and opposition groups--challenging the trash-plant proposal on a variety of environmental and procedural grounds.


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