From the nctimes.com:

San Diego County officials, who took the lead on the operation because the property is in an unincorporated county pocket, maintain that the materials posed a threat to the surrounding neighborhood.

That may be so. But Steven A. McKinley, the owners’ San Diego attorney, said it doesn’t get the county off the hook for compensating his clients. He said their loss is at least $500,000, when the home’s value, and his clients’ distress and inconvenience, are factored in.

“We do not believe an emergency existed within the meaning of those cases which allow a taking without compensation,” McKinley said in a Dec. 15 e-mail to Thomas Bunton, a senior deputy county counsel.

That e-mail, and one from McKinley to Bunton on Dec. 8, were included in the county’s claims files. A county response attached to McKinley’s e-mails was redacted. In the Dec. 8 e-mail, the day before the burn, McKinley said the owners would drop the claim if the county agreed to buy the property for $494,000 and pay other related costs.

Bunton said by phone on Tuesday that the county has not officially responded to the claim or met with the claimants, but plans “a timely response.” He said the county would provide an unredacted e-mail response at a later date.

“Our legal position is that we believe that there’s no compensation requirement here,” Bunton said. “This was exigent circumstances. It was an emergency.”  A county spokesman said in December that the county was not obligated to compensate the owner because the “home is being destroyed to protect the public health and safety.”

The home’s renter, George Jakubec, was jailed Nov. 18, 2010, after a landscaper was injured in an explosion at the house. Jakubec has pleaded not guilty to federal bombmaking and bank robbery charges.

He remains in federal custody without bail.

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