Wednesday, August 7, 2013

There's a Lawsuit? Shocking!!

The word today that the developers of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course, Snowball Investments, plan to file suit against the City of Los Angeles for the City's designation of a small patch of the property as a "historic landmark" seemed to shock a few folks in town as Captain Renault in Casablanca was shocked there was gambling going on at Humphrey Bogart's cafe.

You will remember that earlier the City had made the designation of a small oak grove as historic given the site's history of serving as a detention camp during the Japanese internment. Initially, the effort to seek the historic designation was sold by the office of then Council Member Richard Alarcon to block development.

Later, we found out that was not the case; that the only reason to seek the status was to serve the Japanese community. 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."

Getting back to today's "news," it's really no surprise on two fronts. Let's start on the common sense train. Snowball West stands to make a lot of money from building 229 homes in our canyon.  Money makes people do funny things. The developers have spent nearly a decade fighting to build their project. That's lots of money in lawyers, specialists, consultants, property taxes, maintenance, interest on loans, etc, etc. without having made one dime on their multi-million investment. One could not imagine they would back down from anything that would get in the way of that.

Putting common sense aside, look at this: the development's attorney, Fred Gaines (also the Mayor of Calabasas) telegraphed as much that the developer would take action when he told the City Council on June 25th "We have in our previous testimony launched our protest to this action." Gaines told the News-Press' Daniel Siegel "he was disappointed in the city's process, which he felt kept the developer in the dark." All the more indication that the developer was enumerating wrongs against them for potential action.

My associate, Joseph Mailander, spoke with Council Member Felipe Fuentes' office today. Fuentes issued the following statement:  "I am supportive of finding a balanced way to honor the region and its history. My staff has been attending working group meetings in our efforts to help with this process. I have just learned today about the lawsuit so I can't comment, however I remain committed to finding a solution that doesn't involve the courts." 

Parsing that statement we can glean that the Council Member wants to move forward the development of 229 homes while offering some sort of token recognition to the Tuna Canyon Detention Center's history. That would all be worked out in some settlement agreement. 

So what do we learn today? Nothing really. This is all part of the game. We're in no different position than we were when the community was gamed by a lame duck elected official, torn asunder by bizarre spin and further down the field than we were a year ago. Most folks in our community - and the surrounding communities - are fully aware that developing this property would be disastrous to our environment, our way of life, the very essence of this special community. And it's been put at severe risk by grifting and ineptitude by our City. 

There may be time left to save the golf course. But we're in the final two minutes. We need a whole new game plan and a whole new team to even have a chance to win. Hopefully someone out there has the answer.


Brock Ba'jer said...

It's like I said to you today Michael (when I first posted this story at 2:30p) on your Facebook page: The Foothills. Observed... I said, "you need to rally your teams, work with others and come up with a plan of action." But you (a) couldn't believe it; then (b) didn't want to do anything about it, because (c) you describe yourself as "a retired activist", who wasn't given a good "welcome" when you came to Sunland-Tujunga. Well. My answer to that is the same as it was 8 hours ago: "Above all you need to GET OUTTA THE BLEACHERS!"

Rita-of-Sunland said...

The "Richard ALARCON Oak Grove?" Are you kidding me? No mention of the ACTUAL "historical event" this oak grove is supposed to commemorate? The plaque-makers could've AT LEAST used that ersatz-Oriental saber-sword FONT or phonetically misspelled his name, a la "Risharr Aracon-San." Yet Snowbird (Hmmm...I always thought it was called "Whitebird.") filing a lawsuit about something else ENTIRELY. A Hundred Million Miracles are happening everyday...