SACRAMENTO - The state of California is spending $262,000 to cap a former landfill whose primary owner has a history of defying demands to bring his substandard properties into compliance.
A trust controlled by Raghvendra "Raj" Singh, 51, is the majority owner of the south Sacramento property that used to be known as Waring's Dump and he has sued Sacramento County over its enforcement efforts that to date have generated over $230,000 in penalties.
Singh has also battled Sacramento city and county regulators over various residential rental property he owns, including one involved in a fatal fire in December.
The site on 63rd Street just north of Elder Creek Road was originally used as a source of soil for the construction of Highway 99 in the late 1930s.
The city of Sacramento allowed the resulting pit to be used as a landfill until the early 1960s.
Singh's Krishna Living Trust purchased a total of four parcels totaling 7.3 acres at the Waring's Dump site in 2001 for $275,000.
A year later, when Singh discovered he couldn't build on a portion of the property because of underground contamination, he sued the former owners claiming they failed to disclose the condition.
Singh pleads ignorance
Singh argued that, as an immigrant, he was unfamiliar with California laws and regulations. But by then Singh had already been flagged as a vexatious litigant by the California court system for his frequent filing of frivolous lawsuits.
Both a superior court and appeals court rejected Singh's claim of ignorance, leaving him responsible for the dump site and its continuing liability.
The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, known as CalRecycle, determined the cost of removing an estimated 86,000 cubic yards of waste material and then backfilling the site would have been more than $7 million.
The agency has chosen instead, with court approval, to cap the dump site with 15 inches of soil and vegetation for a total cost of $262,000.
Three of Singh's four parcels are included in the project, along with two parcels totaling 1.6 acres under separate ownership.
"In the end, the important thing is to make sure that site is cleaned up and does not pose a hazard," CalRecycle Communications Director Mark Oldfield said.
The project is expected to take about a month.
The cost of the project is covered by dump fees collected statewide, although CalRecycle plans to place a lien on the property to recover the money spent.
According to a project memo, Sacramento County is attempting to collect the $230,000 in penalties directly from Singh, but could also a place a lien on the property that would take a secondary position.