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Public Trust Doctrine As It Relates To The Lake At Lake Elsinore

If nothing is done to correct the miscarriage of justice to the public I fear that in a few short years recreational activity will become very scarce in Lake Elsinore.

After the American Revolution, each of the original states succeeded to the sovereign right and duty to protect navigable waters and submerged lands not in a proprietary capacity, but rather “as a trustee of a public trust for the benefits of the people” for uses such as commerce, navigation and fishing. This right and duty was passed on to all the other states by way of the “Equal Footing Doctrine." The determination of what was a navigable waterway was to be determined at the time of statehood.

“The public trust ... is an affirmation of the duty of the state to protect the people’s common heritage of streams, lakes, marshlands and tidelands …," wrote the Supreme Court of California in regard to its 1983 court ruling on Mono Lake.

In looking at this doctrine, a navigable waterway is one that was such at the time of statehood; in California, that date is September 9, 1850. On this date, according to records of the time and subsequent studies, the highwater mark of Laguna Grande (later renamed Lake Elsinore) was 1,265 ft. (federal law determines the highwater mark as the line that the water impresses on the soil by covering it for a sufficient time to deprive it of vegetation). The lake has had enough water to flow downstream on several occasions since records were compiled starting as far back as 1776. The level of the water in the lake was at 1,250 ft. approximately on Admissions Day and as such these two elevations should have been used in determining the “Public Trust Lands." Other documents from the era show that the Native American people used these lands for their lively hood i.e. fishing, canoeing and such, which further support the “Public Trust Doctrine” criteria.

Somehow these lands were not transferred by the State of California into the Public Trust until 1952, some 102 years later by the legislature and at that time they only transferred the land below 1,236 ft. elevation which was probably the level of the lake at the time as it dried up in 1954. This smells of politics in the foulest of ways. Granted the lake has had its ups and downs in elevation, as do all bodies of water, but when the lake level was down, what is now the floodplain became a marshland that filtered the waters going into the lake. The Public Trust Doctrine is very clear in that what is at the time of statehood is what should have been transferred -- it matters not what happens down the road. This means if a lake or river existed on the date of statehood and should later completely disappear, that land is considered Public Trust land.

It is time for the citizens of the local area to ask why the law was not followed. There are a number of instances in which prior actions by some powerful entities have been reversed by the courts such as Mono Lake and Owens River versus Los Angeles DWP, Chicago Lake Front versus Illinois Central Railroad, and on and on. If nothing is done to correct this miscarriage of justice to the public I fear that in a few short years recreational activity will become very scarce in Lake Elsinore due to the city's appetite for expansion. The building of private residences on the flood plain will soon lead to complaints about the recreational activities associated with the lake area to increase to the point that these activities will cease to exist.

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Roberto May 11, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Ken said: "Diana that water was more than likely from the large amount of rain that season and the poorly designed drainage system in the area not from the lake exceeding its highwater mark. As for the industrial buildings along Corydon they are at the very edge of the 1265 ft. elevation for the historical highwater mark of the lake and if they received any water in them the downtown area would be under water." Factoid""•In 1981 and 1983, as a result of El Nino conditions, Lake Elsinore sees the worst flooding in recorded history; a souvenir flood booklet quickly sells out •The 6,000 acre lake and back basin fills with runoff from the San Jacinto River, flooding parts of Grand Avenue and Corydon Road, knocking out power for days; homes are lost and rebuilding is banned" REPLY: The 10% outflow channel only changes the perception for building on the flood plain, not the reality of flooding.
Roberto May 12, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Diana Said: "I know for a fact that Magee was actually bought off by a business owner that I know to be able to open his business." REPLY I've known Magee for a very long time and this doesn't sound like Bob. I don't believe Bob would ever commit a Misdaweiner like Melendez conflict of interest of owning property in an RDA are and voting jiust like the charges that got Alongi removed from the council. I'm anxious to here more about Bob buying off a business owner.
Tonto May 12, 2012 at 03:33 AM
You don't need to flush twice. Its not that far from the "lake" :)
One Voice May 12, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Melissa is a ten-year veteran of the United States Navy, where she achieved fluency in the Russian language at the Defense Language Institute, Monterey, CA, and then served as a Russian translator during the Cold War and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. She is one of the first women approved by the U.S. Navy to fly aboard EP-3E reconnaissance aircraft overseas to conduct intelligence-gathering operations in partnership with our allies. After leaving Naval service, Melissa built a transcription company, contracting with the Chief of Naval Operations, and providing services to the Secretary of the Navy as well as other top-level Pentagon officials. She holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA). ****************GLORIFIED SECRETARY*************I THINK NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Diana May 12, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Roberto, you're probably right the guy that told me that is a bit of a drama king or it could be that I was drunk again like LE Resident says, just can't help myself........hickup.....oops excuse me :)
Roberto May 13, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Diana, Don't get together with Anita Drink. With a nome like that I'm sure she would not only bogart your fatty, but your patron also.
Diana May 14, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Not sure what a fatty is?? But Ok, I will stay away. Sorry Ken that your blog turned into a circus like every other patch posting!!
Diana May 14, 2012 at 11:00 PM
On Monday, May14 th, Lake Elsinore Resident posted this comment for Raviolis Italian Restaurant "Overpriced for the food they are serving. It's fantastic for cocktails after work." then posted on May 14th, By the way you don't mimic a drunk, I believe you are that person"? Hmmmm I guess you just admitted that you are that person.
Frankie May 16, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Lake Elsinore has always had mining in it, this ain't nothing new
Katheryn May 16, 2012 at 02:58 PM
They use to have slaves, kill indians, advertise cigarette smoking on television, use cocaine in coca cola, and more but these things have ended and it's time the mining in Lake Elsinore ends. Mining dust (crystalline silica) kills people and someone needs to be responsible in Lake Elsinore, stop the residential building or the mining.
Thunder May 21, 2012 at 05:23 PM
so you want a beautiful lake surrounded with houses, shopping, docks and other crap? why does it need junk around it? i would prefer parks the whole way around and keep the shopping in OC. similar to castaic lake. dont go to a lake to shop, go there to enjoy the scenery.
Ken Mayes May 21, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Thunder some development is going to happen even if the lake were properly placed into the public trust for the people of the State of California. Under the public trust any development would be on land leased from the public trust and would have to enhance the usage of the lake by all citizens, this would allow the airport for recreational purposes, the motorcycle track, it would allow restaurants, hotels and other such businesses. The way it is now the City of Lake Elsinore treats this as a private lake for the use of the homeowners along the lake and as time goes on with the private homes on the lake bottom further public access will be cut off and this is totally wrong, this is a natural lake not a man-made one and therefore cannot be owned by anyone to the exclusion of all
Cat May 30, 2012 at 01:41 AM
I hope I'm not too late to ask a question as I live out of state & I'm not familiar with that area at all. Can anyone tell me is the upper NE corner of the Lake @ LEHR & Kansas Street in this floodplain area? Is there ever going to be any developement in that corner? A park or boat launch perhaps?
Ken Mayes May 31, 2012 at 01:32 AM
I can tell you that this property is at the very edge of what should have been public trust land. It lies between 1260 ft and 1280 ft elevation. If anything is to be developed there is anybody's guess as the city treats the lake as a bastard child. They want the benefits of the lake without spending the necessary money to make it a destination.
Cat May 31, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Okay, thanks for the comment Ken.
Rkeyracer June 04, 2012 at 10:04 AM
When will the city of elsinore become legit? NEVER, IM EMBERRASSED TO MENTION I OWN A HOME IN ELSINORE TO PEOPLE I MEET. Current 27 yr resident and nothing has changed for the better. The lake was surrounded by lakefront homes,free public access to the lake and a nice STATE PARK, everytime the lake level rose, NOT FLOODING IN SOME CASES homes were damaged and most homeowners couldnt afford repairs and lost the property(flood insurance was a joke). The inner circle big wigs bought all these damaged PROPERTIES at a reduced price. Tax payers are still paying for the first public launch ramp that was never built but the money generated was paid out to the city big wigs friends (surveyersand contractors). Those funds were never reimbursed and no criminal charges filed. Nobody mentions above that this is the second levee built, more wasted money for the residents of Elsinore and if I remember correctly resident passed the bill higher property tax because of promises of 4 star hotel /restaurant built in conjunction with the levee. I remember the big push and promises to approve the STORM STADIUM GO ANGELS WHAT A JOKE IT WAS SUPPOSED TO GENERATE ALL KINDS OF FUNDS FOR THE CITY. Correct me if I'm wrong? its been losing money every year.
Rkeyracer June 04, 2012 at 10:28 AM
anybody that mentions or complains about any wrong doings by public service personnel and it gets out (this still is a small town) they send out the croonies to screw with you CODE ENFORCEMENT, NO TRASH PICKUP!!! Why these people are still operating the city the same way uncle charlie did or why they still hold office bothers me but its all about the money!!! how did they get approval for the zoning change to build low income/300 unit apartment complex in the historic part of the city.
Rkeyracer June 04, 2012 at 10:54 AM
hey lets call Donald Trump at the least he would make this city profitable!!!! The leaders we put in office don't know how to lead, they are always thinking old school need to seat some young blood so they can jump start the city to think outside the box been stagnant for to long
Rkeyracer June 04, 2012 at 11:14 AM
the latest floods you speak of should never have happened were talking the 80s. This is a natural lake not man made but we as a people let this happen, ignoring weed / debris clear out of the natural flow of water and where were the city surveyors at when new construction permits were issued?
Rkeyracer June 04, 2012 at 11:21 AM
that's why nothing happens in this city nobody is serious about what they write! And the cities elect's just laugh
Rkeyracer June 04, 2012 at 11:43 AM
I'd like to known why the homeowners who are up to date with property tax don't receive any kind of lake rights?? I own multiple watercraft (stand-up) and ski boat the yearly pass they offer is a joke , who sets the standards or policies of the city generating money from Elsinore Homeowners. The pay structure the city has in place doesn't give any incentive to use the lake. Parker AZ has a private launch ramp for Homeowners free of charge, this system generates a position tax income for Parker AZ
Ken Mayes June 04, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Rkeyracer is really hard to repy to your comments as you are all over the place. I will limit my response to the lake only. The city should have no control over the lake what so ever. The land below 1265 ft elevation should have been placed into the "Public Trust" for all the citizens of California and controlled by the California State Land Commission along with the California Department of Boating and Waterways for its recreational value to the state. This should have occurred when California became a state by virtue of the "Equal Footing Doctrine", but California treated water rights differently than the rest of the country and this is now playing out in the courts with the current holders of title to use of waters and land bordering these waters in California having to give up many of these rights to their proper place, the Public Trust.
Rkeyracer June 05, 2012 at 05:52 AM
Sorry Ken, when I read this at work I wanted to let out all my fustration. Ken I understand where your coming from but how long will this take to reverse back to public trust (your estimate)? I own land around Salton Sea, have you heard about all the courts findings,rulings apeals.
Ken Mayes June 06, 2012 at 01:54 PM
All I can tell you there is that Mono Lake took 16 years from the time the first lawsuit was filed till a resolution was finalized to stabilize it. This involved limiting the rights to take water by the DWP which is quite powerful. The situation with the Salton Sea is different for a lot of reasons, one being that the current sea was formed by accident when the Colorado River irrigation canal broke and flooded the basin starting in 1905. Prior to that the last known lake, Lake Cahuilla which was dry most of the time. Therefore this lake did not exist on September 9, 1850 and would not be covered by the "Public Trust Doctrine"
Rkeyracer June 06, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Ken, you mentioned sending letters to the Attorney Generals office back in May have you rec'd anything back from them? Are you filing lawsuit to reverse lake back to the "Public Trust Doctrine"?
Cat June 07, 2012 at 02:09 AM
KEN- someone had previously mentioned that someone was buying up the previously flooded land around the lake btwn the 1235 & 1280 flood mark. Do you think there is a chance that they will develope any lakeside attractions for the good of all the Lake Elsinore residents?
Ken Mayes June 07, 2012 at 06:40 AM
I have e-mailed the Attorney Generals office and have yet to receive a reply which is kind of surprising seeing as how Kamala Harris has been involved in the same fight in the Bay Area. Also e-mailed Kevin Jeffries and received a reply that pretty much blew me off. As for filling a lawsuit anything is possible I'm still gathering information on property ownership at the time California became a state which appears to have been in the hands of one person Julian Manriquez by way of the Rancho La Laguna land grant, Mexico at the time had a similar public trust doctrine called "Las Siete Partidas".
Ken Mayes June 07, 2012 at 06:43 AM
As I recall most of the property that was flooded during the 80's flood was purchased with the intention of preventing construction on it, but how times have changed. The city is more interested in privatizing the lakefront and restricting access to a few city owned venues.
big aunt harry mary June 11, 2012 at 03:18 PM
resident should only have to pay a minimum fee to use what they already pay for to keep up. somewhere in the 10-20 range per day or a 50.00 yearly pass. i know its not high now but, to residents there should be a substantial break. for any one using the lake from may 1st to october 31st, during the weekdays, should be allowed to use it for free to keep the water "churned" to avoid costing more each month to run the aerators. this will also keep the algae growth down during the summer months by keeping the water moving. letting people know this a people friendly lake will increase the usage by paying parties. income is a good thing here since it is weak at best right now and has been very low for years. the "free use" would have to be from the city launch since its not fair to the private parks to impose on their facilities will no income. there are many large boat builders who test here and could use the break and, we certainly could use the water to be "moving" as much as possible. for free !
Ken Mayes June 12, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Had this lake, up to the natural high water mark of 1265 ft, been placed into the "Public Trust" as it should have been all boat launches would be on land leased from the public trust including the city launch site. All monies collected from these leases would then be required to be spent on the lake. As for the fee it should be the same for all citizens of California and in looking around a other lakes the going rate is about 8.00 per day. As for the locals getting a break, if the city wishes to subsidize the fee so be it. Regarding the aerator's with the amount of wind across the lake daily maybe this should have been taken into consideration when this was being planned and then their would not have been a cost for electricity. The fact is there is are many more problems than just aeration with the water quality in this lake.

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