Preliminary injunction issued against Rancho Valencia Resort in noise-related lawsuit

By Joe Tash

A judge has issued a preliminary injunction against the Rancho Valencia Resort in connection with a lawsuit filed by a Fairbanks Ranch couple who contend the resort generates too much noise from parties and other outdoor events.

The couple, Angel and Linda Mendez, filed a lawsuit against the resort in May. They allege that noise generated by resort events disturbs their peace and quiet, and has lowered their property value. The back of the couple’s home on Avenida Las Perlas is about 300 feet from the resort’s property line.

In his Dec. 18 order, Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Casserly wrote that the Mendezes have “established a reasonable probability of success on the merits of their claims,” and granted them a preliminary injunction. The lawsuit sought an injunction prohibiting the resort “from emitting any noise from their premises sufficiently loud to disturb plaintiffs’ comfortable enjoyment” of their property.

“I am very thankful that the judge, after reviewing all of the evidence, ruled in our favor,” said Linda Mendez.

Mendez said she and her neighbors, who have also been disturbed by noise from the resort, are “thrilled.”

“We are just so relieved because nothing we ever did could get them to stop,” she said.

Officials from the resort did not respond to several messages requesting comment as of press-time. An attorney who is representing the resort in the lawsuit, Dennis Crovella, declined to comment.

Mendez said that in the past, she has called the Sheriff’s Department and complained about the noise, but was told deputies could not take action unless she had a court order. Now that a preliminary injunction has been granted, she believes deputies will have the legal authority to shut down a noisy event.

In their lawsuit and in interviews, the Mendezes contend that the resort is violating both county noise ordinances and the resort’s major use permit. The couple has also submitted a declaration by an acoustics expert, who said he had conducted several sound tests on their property and determined that noise generated by the resort exceeded legal limits.

In her own declaration for the court, Mendez detailed a number of events held at the resort in September and October that she claims generated excessive noise. At one event, a fundraiser held on Oct. 13, the band Boys II Men performed.

“This musical group was extremely loud and I could clearly hear them from my property,” said Mendez’ declaration.

The couple also submitted declarations from two neighbors, Bruce Bartlett and Rick Heymann, who said that noise from the resort has also disturbed them.

“The noise generated from the resort is so loud that it is like my wife and I live next to a party house, frat house, rock and roll concert venue, auction house, or outdoor reception hall,” said Heymann in his declaration.

In an interview for a previous article, Doug Carlson, managing partner for the resort, acknowledged receiving noise complaints from neighbors, and said the resort was taking steps to reduce noise coming from its property.

Those measures included hiring an engineering firm to design a sound system that wouldn’t disturb neighbors.

But Mendez said those efforts apparently haven’t worked, based on the noise she and her family have heard in recent months.

The resort opened in 1989 and was purchased in 2010 by a group led by Jeff and Hal Jacobs, former high-tech executives, and general partners Doug Carlson and Jeffrey Essakow. The resort recently re-opened after undergoing a $30 million renovation.

A trial on the lawsuit, when the Mendezes will seek a permanent injunction along with monetary damages, is set for next summer.