Lawsuit not unexpected, but is one of a list of legal problems with hillside development.
In a movement expected by the City Attorney, Las Lomas Land Company and developer Dan Palmer has filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court over the L.A. City Council’s March 19 vote to stop all activity on the project.
The Las Lomas Project is proposed for a 555-acre parcel just south of the Santa Clarita city limits and just north of Los Angeles city limits, in the hills near the junction of the I-5 and 14 freeways.
Palmer ran into trouble earlier this year when it was revealed that he does not own all of the property in the Las Lomas development. Van Nuys resident Fred McHaddad owns almost half of the parcels in question, but Palmer contends he has an option to purchase McHaddad’s properties to move the project forward.
The revelation caused State Assemblyman Cameron Smyth and Los Angeles City Councilman Greig Smith to ask the L.A. County District attorney to investigate possible perjury on Palmer’s part. The legislators also asked the state’s Attorney General and Department of Real Estate to determine if Palmer attempted to defraud McHaddad, an offense punishable with prison time.
Monday’s lawsuit claims that the city’s action violates the California Environmental Quality Act, federal and state procedural and substantive due process and fails to provide equal protection to Las Lomas. The developer is asking for more than $100 million in damages, which they contend they suffered by preparing documentation for the environmental impact report requested by the city. They are also asking for a writ of mandamus ordering the city to complete the EIR in a timely manner and want the proceedings carried out in front of a jury.
The council’s 10-5 vote was for a measure authored by Smith, whose district would be directly impacted should Las Lomas be developed. The filing makes several personal accusations, prompting Smith’s office to issue a statement (Councilman Smith is currently out of the country on city business).
“It is appalling that Mr. Palmer would sue the City after being denied by a super majority of the City Council.
Palmer stands little chance of winning this lawsuit, yet because of self-greed and personal financial gain, he is pursuing it. This means the City will now have to spend a lot of money defending this suit which should be used for police and fire services.
The residents of this City should be outraged and Mr. Palmer should be ashamed.
When any developer proposes a project they must assume all of the responsibility of financial risk. This was by far one of the most risky projects ever proposed and is not even in the City of Los Angeles.
The City of Los Angeles exercised its authority which is clearly expressed in the Charter.
This lawsuit was fully expected as Mr. Palmer is extremely litigious and has a history of using lawyers and lobbyists to try and get his way.”