Some Lake Berryessa businesses get evicted

June 19, 2008 7:37:31 PM PDT
Folks who enjoy the popular Lake Berryessa vacation site in Napa County, are being forced to leave. The land is owned by the federal government, which is trying to make some money leasing to a higher bidder.

This probably is not the summertime Lake Berryessa you remember. There are sections of the water, mostly empty and boat docks, not like they used to be.

Not anymore at the Rancho Montecello Resort. For 50 years, Bob White's family leased the land from the Bureau of Reclamation, a lease he and wife Lucy lost to a corporate bidder from Arizona.

For families that vacationed in trailers on plots of land, the troubles began months ago, when the bureau ordered the property cleared.

Many were cheaper to knock down than to move.

"They have taken away the lake. They want to take away the water," said Lucy White.

But now that Bob White has lost his lease, it's not like he can just up and leave. There is still the question of what to do with 50 years worth of improvements to this land. The Bureau of Reclamations says wants him to take everything with him, including the concrete of the boat ramps.

"What did you expect to receive for all of this improvements on the land?" asked ABC7's Wayne Freedman.

"We expected to receive somewhere between $16 to $18 million," said Bob White.

"You're getting?" asked ABC7's Wayne Freedman.

"Zero," said Bob White.

Pete Lucero, who runs this project for the Bureau of Reclamation could not talk on camera, but did defend his position on a statement that said: "Our new designee doesn't want anything. They intend to rebuild the entire resort."

"They're trying to avoid paying for the infrastructure. They're hoping it's too expensive to take it out. And then the government can declare it abandoned," said Bob White.

Meantime, there two suits against the Bureau of Reclamation remain pending in federal court, as it negotiates with the new franchisee and prepares to close other long standing resorts.

At Lake Berryessa, this is shaping up to be one hot, angry summer.

"We had an investment. We built a business. And whatever you have in life, it's against every American principle for them to do what they're doing," said Lucy White.


Load Comments