Saturday, August 10, 2013

Details of Golf Course Developer Lawsuit Emerge

Idyllic day at Verdugo Hills Golf Course, Photo by Joseph Mailander

Our contributor, Joseph Mailander, visited Sunland-Tujunga Friday, did some digging and unearthed some details on the lawsuit that Snowball West, owners of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course, has filed against the City of Los Angeles over it's designation of a small piece of the property as a "historic landmark."

You may remember that last fall, Alarcon presented to the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council a strategy to block development of 229 homes on the site, by declaring the property, which was used during World War II as a detention camp for Japanese-Americans and others, a "historic landmark."

This was at the height of Alarcon's campaign for the State Assembly; a race he later lost.

At some point during the process for historic designation, the stated intent of the effort changed; not to block development, but to provide some historic mitigation to the Japanese community, and acquire some sort of recognition and memorial at the site.  As Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council board member Krystee Clark told the Glendale News-Press, "Well, it's not really about the golf course," she said. "It's about making sure the area is preserved in a way that satisfies the Japanese American community."

The following is courtesy of Joseph Mailander:

The suit that the owners of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course have brought against the City of Los Angeles is mostly pointed at Alarcon's actions in his final days as a Council Member
It notes how Alarcon introduced the motion to designate the site as a Japanese monument on October 12, 2012..."25 days before the General Election and without notice to Snowball."
It references an LA Times report noting that Alarcon had hoped to "save the Verdugo Hills Golf Course from residential development by adding it to the list of historic and cultural monuments"--something Alarcon's office and others were denying when they found later that this might constitute deprivation of due process
It alleges that Alarcon refused to talk about the designation with Snowball. [BTW, it notes how the community within the development is to be privately gated.] It claims that Alarcon in bringing the motion to Council on June 21, surprised the developer, because the PLUM Committee had asked for a working Committee to work on a solution 60 days subsequent to June 11, 2013--but brought the matter before Council before his term ended, a scant ten days later. 
It alleges that in Alarcon's "rush to prevent, delay, and impact" the Project, "no research was conducted, no reports or maps were consulted, and no findings were made to determine the boundaries of the detention station or exactly where the use was previously located on the property. It alleges the box drawn around the oaks was "nearly arbitrary." 
It suggests Alarcon's motivation was originally to please voters in running for his Assembly race, which he did not win. 

It requests a jury trial and names the sum of $20 million as compensatory damages.

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