City of Palos Verdes Estates Agrees to Settlement of Parkland Lawsuit

A video of the City of Palos Verdes Estates Council Meeting to approve the settlement is available here.

            Today the lawsuit over the Panorama Parkland was resolved.  The Parties* found common ground on their mutual priority for preserving parkland. The lawsuit was originally filed by John Harbison and CEPC to unwind a sale of parkland property from the Homes Association to the Luglianis.  The property was conveyed by the City to the Homes Association as part of an agreement between the City, the Palos Verdes Unified School District and the Luglianis. The Court of Appeal held “the public did benefit from this litigation—namely through the protection of a public park.” Under the settlement, the Luglianis and the Homes Association will comply with the provisions of the CC&Rs that allow for re-designation of land use with the consent of the neighboring property owners. Harbison and CEPC support this re-designation in light of two facts: (1) the City is going to deed restrict the Bluff Cove properties (approx. 4 acres) along Palos Verdes Drive West (that are currently R1 Residential zoned) by imposing the same restrictions that are on all other City-owned open space.  As a result, the City of Palos Verdes Estates will enjoy a net increase in deed-restricted open space property.  (2) Unlike the original sale from the Homes Association to the Luglianis, under the agreement, the Homes Association will employ the proper mechanism under the CC&Rs including the explicit consent of the public within 300 feet of each property.  The Agreement will create a view easement and restore natural parkland for the public to enjoy.  All Parties affirm the continuing legal validity of the deed restrictions maintaining parkland.  In addition, the Parties are resolving the ROBE Quorum litigation creating a more democratic election process for the Homes Association.

            All Parties are pleased to have found a solution that increases parkland for the benefit of our residents.  The Luglianis agreed to restore the flat portion of the Panorama parkland properties (approx. 0.4 acres) and return that to city ownership for the residents to enjoy.  The Homes Association and Harbison were instrumental in identifying the portion of the property of most value to the community. The Homes Association is helping to fund the restoration.

            This settlement completely resolves the lawsuit over Panorama Parkland.

*Parties to the Agreement are Citizens for Enforcement Parkland Covenants (CEPC), John Harbison, Palos Verdes Homes Association (Homes Association), City of Palos Verdes Estates, Ried Schott, Residents for Open Board Elections (ROBE) and Robert and Dolores Lugliani (the Luglianis, property owners of 900 Via Panorama).

Court of Appeal Denies Rehearing of Parkland Appeal

In January, the Second District Court of Appeal issued its opinion about the validity of the property deed restrictions and the propriety of the 2012 sale of parkland in Palos Verdes Estates. The Palos Verdes Homes Association filed a Petition for Rehearing asking the same three appellate justices who decided the case to change their mind. Today that request for a rehearing was denied. In addition, the Court of Appeal strengthened its earlier decision by adding the following footnote to the opinion on the validity of the deeds:

The Association argues that it had the right to transfer the parkland to the Luglianis because this original declaration was never properly amended. But, the Chairman of the Association’s board expressly consented to the terms of the 1940 deed. By expressly agreeing to those terms, the Association cannot now argue that Bank of America had no power to include them.

 

PV Homes Fails to Get Quorum for Board Election, Jeff Lewis to Return to Court

The Daily Breeze reports here on the going legal dispute over the quorum for board elections for the Palos Verdes Homes Association:

The next hearing is set for Feb. 15, where Jeff Lewis, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said he will ask the judge to lower the threshold for a quorum. A quorum hasn’t been reached since 2009. In 2017’s election, just 1,589 votes were cast.

Judge rules Palos Verdes Peninsula school board violated open meetings law

From Today’s Daily Breeze:

A Superior Court judge has ruled that the Palos Verdes Peninsula school board twice violated California’s open meetings law in 2016 as it was putting an end to an agreement to install solar panels in district schools.

Torrance Superior Court Judge William Fahey, in a tentative ruling Sept. 5 that likely will stand, sided with a group of residents who sued the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District Board of Education for alleged violations of the Brown Act.

The prevailing parties were represented by Jeff Lewis.

Jeff Lewis Successfully Defends Hospital in $20 Million Fraud and Breach of Contract Lawsuit

Hammes Company Healthcare, LLC v. Tri-City Healthcare District, 801 F.Supp.2d 1023 (S.D. Cal. 2011).  Mr. Lewis represented a Southern California hospital that hired Hammes Company Healthcare to build a medical office building. The project failed, and in the ensuing litigation, Hammes sought $20 million and asserted five claims against the hospital, its CEO and its director of business affairs for breach of contract, fraud and promissory estoppel.  Mr. Lewis moved for summary judgment and prevailed as to 5 of the 6 claims. Following summary judgment in 2011, Mr. Lewis obtained a defense judgment at trial of the one remaining claim in January 2013.

Jeff Lewis Successfully Defends Equal Protection Claim Brought by Voter Against Southern California Hospital

In December 2011, a voter filed a lawsuit against a local healthcare district alleging that his Equal Protection rights were violated by the district’s handling of certain board member meetings. The case was Page v. Tri-City Healthcare District, 860 F.Supp.2d 1154 (S.D. Cal. 2012).  Mr. Lewis defeated the equal protection claim.

Jeff Lewis Successfully Challenges Ballot Language Proposed by Marymount College

In September 2010, Mr. Lewis filed a challenge to ballot language in the November 2010 election in the City of Rancho Palos Verdes.  Mr. Lewis contended that the ballot proponent included “false and misleading” arguments.  Mr. Lewis prevailed, obtained injunctive relief and the rebuttal argument was ordered revised to exclude the misleading statement. Lewis v. Logan, (Sept. 8, 2010, BS128266). The Daily News published this article about the lawsuit.