County of San Mateo v. Superior CourtAnnotate this Case
A 72-foot diseased tree fell on a sleeping child’s tent, in a campground within a 499-acre public wilderness park, owned by San Mateo County. The county claimed immunity as a matter of law for the allegedly dangerous condition of its property under Government Code section 831.2, “natural condition immunity,” which states: “Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for an injury caused by a natural condition of any unimproved public property, including but not limited to any natural condition of any lake, stream, bay, river or beach.” The court of appeal upheld the trial court’s denial of the county’s motion for summary judgment. There are triable issues of fact as to whether the property was “unimproved.” The heavily wooded park has trails. Its campsites are cleared of trees. The campground area has amenities including paved roads, telephones, restrooms (with electricity, sinks and flush toilets), showers, dedicated parking areas, a dumping station and a store. Plaintiffs’ campsite had two picnic tables, a fire pit, and a metal food locker. A professional land surveyor determined there were 34 man-made improvements within 126 feet of where the tree stood.