May 10 (UPI) — Tesla filed a lawsuit Saturday against Alameda County, Calif., where its factories are located, over ongoing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and CEO Elon Musk threatened to move the company’s headquarters and operations out of California.
Musk wanted to resume vehicle production at Tesla’s Fremont, Calif., factory Friday afternoon, but Alameda County’s interim public health officer said the company is not yet authorized to do so as health orders to contain a coronavirus outbreak in the region are still intact.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Saturday, seeks an injunction that will allow the company to operate, and alleges that the county violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th amendment.
“The unelected & ignorant ‘Interim Health Officer’ of Alameda is acting contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!” Musk wrote Saturday on Twitter.
Musk also tweeted that Alameda County’s move was “the final straw” for car production in California and that “Tesla knows far more about what needs to be done to be safe through our Tesla China factory experience than an (unelected) interim junior official in Alameda County.”
“Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately,” he wrote.
Adrian Fine, mayor of Palo Alto — where Tesla’s corporate offices are situated, and which is not located in Alameda County — tweeted Saturday that he “would be really sad and disappointed” if Tesla left the city, and that he stands ready to help.
An Alameda County spokesperson told The Verge on Saturday that representatives of the county have been “communicating directly and working closely with the Tesla team on the ground in Fremont. This has been a collaborative, good faith effort to develop and implement a safety plan that allows for reopening while protecting the health and well-being of the thousands of employees who travel to and from work at Tesla’s factory.”
Under the new terms of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, a company lawyer must approve Musk’s tweets about certain parts of Tesla’s business before they’re posted — including announcements that would trigger a filing of the form 8-K, which is used for announcing unscheduled material events, including factory moves.
No such paperwork had been filed as of Saturday.