Herrera Sues Defiant Polluter on Behalf of Port of San Francisco

Despite Extensive Efforts to Solve Company’s Problems Cooperatively, Pacific Cement Refuses to Abate Nuisances, Environmental Problems

SAN FRANCISCO (July 21, 2005) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today sued an industrial tenant of the Port of San Francisco for multiple violations of state and local law that pose increasingly serious threats to the environment and public health and safety in San Francisco. The 25-page complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court this morning details numerous allegations of misconduct against defendant Pacific Cement Company, a division of Ramirez Developers, Inc., and its owner, Ricardo D. Ramirez, including charges that flagrant mismanagement of the company’s environmental responsibilities has exposed the general public and marine wildlife to numerous risks to life, health, and safety — with at least seven citations for violations of environmental and health and safety laws issued by state and local authorities over the last few years.

Charging the San Francisco-based concrete fabrication company with maintaining a public and private nuisance; breach of lease; waste; encroachment; trespass; and violations of the state Unfair Competition Law, the lawsuit filed on behalf of the City and the People of the State of California seeks damages, penalties, restoration costs and legal fees that could total into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The suit additionally seeks injunctive relief that would compel Pacific Cement to abate the nuisance it has created.

“This is a situation in which Port officials demonstrated consistent good faith, enormous patience and a spirit of cooperation in seeking to work with a local business to solve its problems,” Herrera said. “Far from sharing that cooperative spirit, however, Pacific Cement has grown increasingly defiant — breaching contracts, breaking promises, and showing ever more appalling disregard for its obligations to protect our environment. The continued threat of pollution and potentially lasting damage that Pacific Cement is causing to our City can no longer be countenanced.”

“The Port expects its tenants to steward waterfront lands and the Bay with great care. We will take clear action to deal with tenants who violate this trust,” said Monique Moyer, Port Executive Director.

In July 2001, the Port entered into an agreement that afforded Pacific Cement the opportunity to relocate and expand its business operation from a location near Pier 80, where it had been a tenant since 1999, to a substantially larger Port parcel near Pier 94. As part of that contract, Pacific Cement agreed to complete several tasks related to opening the new site and closing the existing one. In particular, Pacific Cement agreed to restore its existing site on Pier 80 to the condition it was in before the company occupied it; to obtain a building permit to construct its new cement batching plant on Pier 94; and to prepare and obtain the City’s approval of a plan to mitigate pollution from storm water runoff at both sites.

When Pacific Cement failed to meet the December 31, 2001 deadline for completion of the work, the Port agreed to an amendment to the agreement, extending the deadline to June 30, 2003. The company later requested, and received, two additional extensions to complete the work, with new deadlines of December 31, 2004 and May 31, 2005. Soon after granting the first extension, it became apparent to Port staff that Pacific Cement was not operating in compliance with laws and regulations applicable to its concrete fabrication operation at Pier 80. Port staff made repeated requests that Pacific Cement bring its operation into compliance. Yet despite three extensions totaling some 41 months, Pacific Cement not only failed to satisfy most of the conditions of its agreement, but had also continued to willfully disregard requirements of local and state regulatory agencies designed to protect the environment.

The City’s complaint alleges that the company continued to pollute the existing site, adjacent properties and San Francisco Bay, prompting at least seven notices of violation from such environmental regulatory agencies as the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the Hazardous Materials Unified Program Agency of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. The suit further contends that Pacific Cement dragged its feet in terms of permitting processes, submitting late, incomplete, and inadequate applications for permits for its new site at Pier 94.

According to the City’s complaint: “Having lost faith in Pacific Cement’s intention and ability to accomplish the acts necessary to commence its lease at the new site, and having grown increasingly alarmed at Pacific Cement’s continuing and repeated threats to human health and safety, and to fish and other wildlife, at the existing site, the Port now seeks judicial confirmation that it has validly revoked its license to Pacific Cement to occupy the new site.”

The case is City and County of San Francisco and People of the State of California v. Pacific Cement Company et al, San Francisco Superior Court No. CGC 05443263, filed July 21, 2005.