Be Informed -- Read The Original Source Documents
10/2/17 ROBE files Petitioner's Reply Brief -- For the final brief filed by ROBE that repudiates many inaccuracies and misrepresentations in the Declaration of Sidney Croft in Support of Respondent's Opposition (below), click here. For the Declaration of John Harbison in Support of Petitioner's Reply Brief, click here. We remain concerned about how the PVHA's legal counsel continues to make so many false and misleading statements; these two briefs go through eight myths promulgated by the PVHA and their legal counsel, and include quotes from the PVHA Board Minutes as well as copies of Articles in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News that report what happened in the past 90 years of PVHA elections. Please note that the Homes Association prohibited us from making any copies of the Board Minutes, so that is why are only able to include transcriptions of relevant sections. Local history buffs, there is a lot of entertaining drama in these articles from 1928-1982 about past calls for regime change and updating the quorum requirement.
9/16/17 ROBE Announces its slate of candidates for January 9, 2018 Election -- click here
7/18/17 PVHA files response to ROBE Lawsuit on Lowering the Quorum Requirement -- click here
5/17/17 ROBE Files Lawsuit to Compel PVHA to Count January 2017 Ballots, Accept Result, and Lower Quorum in Future Elections. After trying for four months to convince the Palos Verdes Homes Association Directors to act responsibly and to extend the January election, ROBE drafted a petition in April to ask the courts to lower the quorum and gave the petition to PVHA with the suggestion that they file the petition themselves; ROBE offered to contribute $1500 to cover court filing fees. For that letter and draft petition, click here. PVHA’s attorney Sid Croft responded that they would not file a petition, and for this response, click here.
Having exhausted the avenue of seeking PVHA’s cooperation in the matter, and the PVHA Board voting to do nothing about the election and quorum, Ried Schott and ROBE (as named plaintiffs) have filed a lawsuit to compel the PVHA to:
- Open the ballots, count them, and accept the top five candidates as Directors
- Lower the quorum on future elections to 25% from 50%
- Lower the quorum on changing the By-Laws from 67% to 40%
- Require all candidates (including incumbents) to comply with the process for collecting nominating signatures
- Require PVHA to do three mailings (unless a quorum has been reached with less than 3 mailings)
- Allow for proxies, drop-off of ballots, and cumulative voting (which means if there are 5 positions, the voter can allocate 5 votes however the voter wants, such as on vote for each for 5 candidates or 5 votes for one candidate)
For the court filing. click here.
4/25/17 New PVE City Councilmember Sandy Davidson Calls for Dropping the Appeal. At the PVE City Council Meeting on April 25th, recently elected City Councilmember Sandy Davidson proposed that City Council drop the appeal on the Panorama Parkland ruling. Mayor Jim Vandever and Jennifer King both pushed back and rejected the idea, Betty Lin Peterson tried to change the subject, Kenny Kao did not comment, and the matter was not brought to a vote. Here are their comments at 3 hours 18 minutes into the meeting (click here):
- Sandy Davidson: “I think we should cancel the appeal of the sale of the City land. I think that will make us some money. I really do. I would like to hear what the other council people say about it, because we have three councilmembers who voted for it.”
- Jennifer King: “The only money that will be spent now is on the reply brief and oral argument, and that is a very small portion of the appeal compared to the initial work of getting the record ready and writing the opening brief. No, I don’t think it would be a large savings at all. “
- Betty Lin Peterson: “Whether or not we decide that now, this is what we are focusing on.”
- Jim Vandever: “Part of the issue with that appeal. I really don’t want to go down that rabbit hole. But understand that if we did not appeal we would be on the hook for a couple hundred thousand dollars of legal fees and we’ve spent $15 or $20 thousand instead. If you are a poker player we are pot-committed to that.”
4/24/17 CEPC files Combined Respondents' Brief and Cross-Appellants' Brief in the Panorama Parklands Case. Citizens for Enforcing Parklands Covenants filed a 117 page brief to respond the Defendants' November briefs. ROBE supporters CEPC in that case, which was ruled in favor of CEPC in 2015 and called for the reversal of the illegal sale of parkland by the PVHA to a private resident and the removal of encroachments on the 1.7 acre of property. PVHA and the City of PVE appealed that ruling. For CEPCs first filing in the Appeal, click here. CEPC also filed a Motion to Augment Record on Appeal which included 295 pages of documents related to the earlier 2010 case of Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District vs Palos Verdes Homes Association over Lots C & D; this allows the Judges to see the arguments that PVHA made in that case, and show that PVHA is contradicting themselves in the current CEPC Panorama Parklands case. For the supplemental file with those additional exhibits, click here. For the Court’s acceptance of that Motion, click here.
4/13/17 ROBE Drafts Court Petition for PVHA to File to Ask for Lower Quorum. ROBE prepared a draft petition and sent it to PVHA attorney Sid Croft suggesting they file it to lower the quorum. In the letter, ROBE offered to contribute up to $1500 to defray the PVHA's court costs if PVHA files and supports the petition. For the letter and petition, click here. For Sid Croft's response rejecting the suggestion, click here.
3/17/17 Feedback Poll on the Palos Verdes Homes Association Election. A poll of PVHA members was conducted by Palos Verdes Residents for Responsible Government (PVrrg) to shed some light on public sentiment on the recent election, since the PVHA has refused to open the ballots received and refused to disclose to the public how those voting feel about who should be their representatives. There were 88 respondents. Topics covered including views of the current Board's performance, helpfulness of sources of information, votes by candidate, and suggestions on what the PHVA should do next. Detailed written comments were also captured. For the results, click here.
1/24/17 ROBE Proposes to PVHA to Follow ByLaws and Extend Election. The election on January 10th did not yield a quorum, so the current Board has declared they will serve another year. The following week, ROBE’s Steering Committee and its candidates for the PVHA Board prepared a presentation on the shortcomings in the recent election and a proposal for remedying the situation. In summary, we advocated that PVHA follow its By-Laws and extend the election “day-to-day” until a quorum is reached. For the specifics, click here. At the January 24th PVHA Board Meeting, Director Dale Hoffman proposed that PVHA do that, and Carolbeth Cozen also voted in favor of that proposal. However, the other three Directors (Phil Frengs, Ed Fountain, and Carol Swets) voted against the proposal and the motion was rejected. ROBE is considering our next steps.
1/3/17 Powerful Precedent for Rejecting Sale of Parkland. The central argument that the PVHA makes in its Appellant’s Opening Brief (AOB) in defense of the sale of CEPC/Panorama Parklands is that the PVHA is not bound by the underlying deed restrictions that state the parklands “shall not be sold or conveyed, in whole or in part, by the Grantee … except to a body suitably constituted by law to take, hold, maintain and regulate public parks.”This clause was in the deed the PVHA wrote when it transferred the parkland to The City of PVE in 1940 (click here), and in the deed whereby the PVHA received the parkland from the Trustee of the Palos Verdes Project in 1931 (click here). The AOB states (click here) that the PVHA had the right to sell property in the original 1923 Protective Restrictions, and that that right has precedence over the deed restrictions. This argument centers on the intent of the PVHA when it transferred the Parkland to the City in June 1940.
The PVHA does not acknowledge that in March 1940 (just months before that transfer), Pierre Lamure (a prominent resident who was chairman of the committee to incorporate the City of PVE) petitioned the PVHA Board to purchase for his own use parkland where he had illegally built encroachments adjacent to his property. Sound familiar? But unlike the situation in 2012 when the PVHA Board voted unanimously to sell parkland to an encroaching resident, the 1940 Board flatly rejected the proposal and moreover the minutes of the meeting acknowledged that the Board had previously rejected all similar proposals, citing the deed restrictions that prevented them from doing so. Per the article in the Palos Verde News (which was published by the PVHA at the time), here was the Board’s response: “It was explained to him [Lamure} that the Homes Association, under the terms of its tenure of park properties, could not convey them to a private individual.” The PVHA’s legal argument on appeal that it never intended to bind itself to the “no sale” of parkland deed restrictions is flatly refuted by the PVHA’s Board’s decision in 1940. For a copy of the two articles in the Palos Verdes News on March 15, 1940 on this topic, click here and here.
12/30/16 Letter from ROBE to Judge Latin: ROBE’s attorney sent a letter to Judge Latin, who is overseeing the PVHA Election. The letter 1) asks why Judge Latin has not responded to ROBE's 12/9/16 letter; 2) suggests that ballots be allowed to be returned at the 1/10 Annual Meeting because there are many reports of members not receiving ballots and PVHA has closed its office from 12/23 - 1/4 yet the ballots must be mailed back by 1/4; 3) asks for verification that the incumbents collected at least 100 signatures as required in PVHA's Resolution #177 and 4) states if quorum is not met that ROBE will ask Judge Latin to hold the election open as required in PVHA By-Laws. For the letter, click here.
12/9/16 History of PVHA and Background for the Current Litigation: Joe Ryan has written an excellent blog that explains the context for the current controversy over Parklands that is a key issue in the current PVHA Board Election. For those of us without legal training, Joe has researched the topic and applied his legal mind in a way understandable by us non-lawyers. For the blog, click here.
12/9/16 Letter sent by ROBE to Judge Latin: ROBE’s attorney sent a letter to Judge Latin, who is overseeing the PVHA Election, pointing out the above errors and asking for a method for members to verify receipt, as well as asking for PVHA to follow their By-Laws and to extend the election should there be no quorum. The By-Laws stipulate PVHA’s by-laws state in Article V on page 51:
…“at such annual meeting of the members, directors for the ensuing year shall be elected by secret ballot, to serve as herein provided and until their successors are elected. If, however, for want of a quorum or other cause, a member's meeting shall not be held on the day above named, or should the members fail to complete their elections, or such other business as may be presented for their consideration, those present may adjourn from day to day until the same shall be accomplished.”
“Day to day” does not mean “until a year from now”. The language means PVHA should extend the election long enough to establish a quorum. For the letter, click here.
12/4/16 John Harbison sends PVHA email with suggestion for addressing resident concerns over the mailing address error. With over 60 comments on NextDoor with residents expressing concern over whether their ballot would arrive to be counted, John Harbison proposed to the PVHA Board of Directors that they ask Moss Adams to post online a list of ballots received so that people can overcome their distrust and each confirm that their ballot has been received. PVHA President Phil Frengs responded they did not take responsibility for the address error or their failure to answer members’ concerns posted on NextDoor, and that they would not allow members to verify if their ballots were received and counted. John Harbison responded saying that he had already been encouraging members to send ballots in using the envelopes provided, and it was not his responsibility to clarify the PVHA process or to make representations/assurances that it would work. For this email interchange, click here.
11/30/16 Error Discovered in Address of PVHA Return Envelope. On the pre-paid return envelope, the street address is in error – showing “11960 Wilshire Boulevard” not “10960 Wilshire Boulevard.” Click here for a sample. This caused some people to wonder why the zip code was confusingly not the same as the Moss Adams address listed on the ballot itself (“90099-9811” on the outside envelope instead of “90024”). The incorrect house number was reported to Kim Robinson at PVHA, but PHVA took no action to explain this to the public. However, we have been told that the bar code contains the correct information and that the envelopes will be delivered correctly to Moss Adams, the CPA firm that is doing the counting. Nonetheless, the mistake and the slowness of the PVHA to respond with specifics on why letters should get through caused much discussion on NextDoor -- click here.
11/26/16 Mailer with letter from Phil Frengs arrives in mailboxes of all PVHA members. For the letter and John Harbison's comments on the many erroneous statements made by Mr. Frengs, click here.
11/25/16 ROBE Mailer arrives in mailboxes of all PVHA members -- click here
11/24/16 Article in Peninsula News on "Opposition regroups for new Palos Verdes Homes Association election" -- click here
11/23/16 Two Errors in PVHA Ballot Reported to PVHA. On the ballot, PVHA misrepresented the years of membership by overstating incumbent Carolbeth Cozen by eleven years (15 years instead of 4 years) and understating petition candidate Marlene Breene by ten years (21 years instead of 31 years). This error was corrected in a postcard that arrived on or about December 3rd, although some people have reported the ink was smeared. For examples, click here.
11/23/16 Letter from PVHA President Phil Frengs Posted on Nextdoor on 11/22/16 Taking Issue with Statements made on this Website and John Harbison's Comments in Response -- click here.
11/23/16 Excerpts from the 1924 Protective Provisions that Articulate the PVHA's Role in Enforcing the Protective Provisions. The PVHA's role includes enforcing the Protective Restrictions, and recent statements from PVHA Board suggest they do not view that as part of their role. Further, the PVHA is given powers to exercise a "Reversion of Title" if there are "Violations of Conditions" and the "Violation Constitutes Nuisance." For the specific language in these clauses, click here.
11/11/16 Letter sent to PVHA President Phil Frengs Taking Issue with Assertions he made at the Meet The Candidates Night on 11/10/16. Mr. Frengs accused ROBE of misrepresenting aspects of 5 issues, and this letter goes through each of those assertions and fact-checks to show that the accusations were inappropriate and unfounded -- click here
11/10/16 PVHA Applies for Permission to file an Oversized brief. Permission to file this 133 page brief was granted --
11/9/16 Palos Verdes Homes Association files Appellant's Opening Brief. Eleven months after appealing the Judge's Ruling in the Panorama Parkland case, the PVHA files a 133 page opening brief. I guess "brief" is not a literal term. For the full AOB, click here.
11/7/16 City of Palos Verdes Estates files Appellant's Opening Brief. Eleven months after appealing the Judge's Ruling in the Panorama Parkland case, the City of PVE files its opening brief -- click here.
10/6/16 Defendants file for Another Extension of Time to file Opening Briefs. This latest request for an extension makes in eleven months and counting -- for their stated reasons, click here
9/6/16 Defendants file for Extension of Time to file Opening Briefs. After the Defendants in the CEPC lawsuit appealed in November 2015, they have missed several deadlines for filing their first brief. This latest request for an extension makes in ten months and counting -- for their stated reasons, click here
8/28/16 Letter sent to PVHA Board of Directors with questions on the Election Process -- click here
6/24/16 PVHA Approves Procedure for Open Nominations: For the first time ever, PVHA has acknowledged that they must accept nominations from the public -- click here
2/29/16 Letter sent to PVHA Board of Directors with Suggestions for defining the Election Process -- click here
2/11/16 John Harbison Comments on the PVHA Election Report: If the last ballot submitted by PVHA voters were counted (instead of the first ballot as PHVA did), all four ROBE candidates would have been in the top five vote getters. This is disappointing because PVHA Attorney Sid Croft stated on 12/26/15 in the Daily Breeze that “If (residents) want to revoke their ballots, they can come to the homes association and mark whoever they want.” For Harbison's comments, click here.
2/10/16 PVHA releases Judge Latin's Report and Issues a Press Release -- click here
1/30/16 Judge Latin Sends his Report on the Election Count to PVHA -- click here
1/9/16 Letter from ROBE to PVHA Directors on Election Process -- click here
12/22/15 ROBE Sends Letter Disputing PVHA's Legal Assertions, and informs PVHA that is is Proceeding with a Mailing to Everyone in PVE so that PVHA's Members Can have a Choice -- click here
12/21/15 Two Page Flyer on ROBE Initiative to Share with Your Friends -- click here
12/18/15 PVHA Reverses Itself on 12/14/15 Choices it gave ROBE -- click here
12/18/15 ROBE notifies PVHA that it has reviewed the ballot to make it clear that it is from ROBE not PVHA, and that ROBE is selecting the second option of sending the revised ballot out at ROBE's expense -- click here
12/14/15 PVHA Email to ROBE Says They Will Not Comply with ROBE Request for a Revised Ballot Mailing, but give ROBE 3 choices as long as ROBE takes off the PVHA logo and makes it clear that the ballot is not from PVHA -- click here
- PVHA sends a second ballot but charges ROBE $12,000
- ROBE sends its own ballot out at ROBE's expense
- ROBE brings signed ballots to the Annual Meeting on Jan 12
12/7/15 ROBE Delivers Over 150 Signatures on Petition to Nominate Slate of 4 New Directors: For the letter sent to PVHA President Mark Paullin, click here.
11/17/15 PVE City Council Posts Q & A on Their Website Explaining Reasons for Appealing the Ruling: For the Legal Matters page of the PVE website, click here. For CEPC's response to those arguments, click here.
11/15/15 Timeline and Summary of the Issue: For a five-page summary of this issue with a timeline of events over the past 40 years, as well as one page of photos of the property in question and the encroachments on that property -- click here
10/27/15 PVE City Council Again Considers Appeal and Takes no Action: PVE City Council met once again in closed session. About 20 people attended and 12 spoke -- all were urging that the City Council accept the ruling and not appeal. For John Harbison's comments, click here. The Council went into closed session after the public was heard, and when they appeared again in open session, the city attorney announced, “No action was taken.” No information on voting was disclosed.
10/27/15 PVHA Board Considers Appeal and Takes no Action: PVE City Council met once again in closed session. About 30 people attended and 13 spoke -- all were urging that the PVHA accept the ruling and not appeal.
10/19/15 PVHA Board Contradicts Its Court Declaration and Issues Letter Saying it Has not Voted on Appeal: In a stunning contradiction, PVHA claims that its Declaration to the Court filed by its attorney was incorrect, and that they had not voted to appeal the case. They announce an opportunity for the public to express their concerns on 10/27. Here is a link to the letter.
10/13/15 PVE City Council Considers Appeal and Takes no Action: PVE City Council met in closed session at 6:00 pm to discuss the CEPC litigation and possibility of appeal. About 20 residents attended, 12 of whom spoke; all speakers urged the City Councilmembers not to appeal; in addition, there were about 20 letters that had been submitted to the council members also urging them not to appeal. The Council went into closed session after the public was heard, and when they appeared again in open session, the city attorney announced, “No action was taken.” No information on voting was disclosed.
10/13/15 PVHA Files Declaration with Court that Board has Voted to Appeal: PVHA’s in-house attorney, Sid Croft, filed a declaration by the PVHA with the court. That declaration revealed that a special meeting of the PVHA Board had been held on Friday, October 9th and that “the Board decided to appeal the Judgment, and also to pursue a stay of enforcement of the Judgment pending appeal from the trial court" and "and “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.” Here is a link to that document. It is not yet the official “Notice of Appeal,” and until that is filed, the Board could theoretically change its mind. The next scheduled PVHA Board Meeting is October 27th. Defendants have until November 30th to file an appeal.
10/13/15 PVHA Board Holds Special Meeting to Discuss CEPC Case: This meeting was not noticed to the public, as required by the Davis Stirling Act.
9/24/15 Final Judgment. Official registered judgment of the Court including descriptions of actions that need to be taken to nullify deed and remove encroachments -- click here
9/10/15 Parklands Committee considers re-routing a portion of the Paseo Del Sol Fire Road closure/re-routing, and the application includes a letter from PVHA President Mark Paullin stating that 'The Board of Directors supports the concept of the project". PVHA contends that they did not support the project. Read the letter and judge for yourself. The application clearly is intended to deny public access to the area, and is in conflict with the underlying deed restrictions that say "said realty is to be used and administered forever for park and/or recreation purposes only ." For the PVHA support letter, click here. For the complete application to which the letter was attached, click here. For letter containing John and Renata Harbison's comments on the proposal, click here.
9/9/15 Final Hearing on Final Judgment: For transcript of the hearing, click here.
7/14/15 Comments from the public and City Council on CEPC case. There were two speeches made by members of the public -- for Dick Fay's remarks, click here; for Renata Harbison's remarks, click here. Three Council members (JIm Goodhart, Jim Vandever, and John Rea) then then responded quite negatively, and those comments are transcribed here. If you'd like to listen to the audio of the whole session, click here. We found the comments by the three Council members inaccurate, so on July 22nd Renata and John Harbison sent a letter to City Council to point out and correct those inaccuracies and misleading statements; that letter can be found here.
7/9/15 Harbison Letter to PVE City Council. For letter sent to PVE City Council members to correct inaccuracies in the statements of the City Attorney in the Peninsula News article published today, click here.
7/6/15 Harbison Letters to PVE City Council and PV Homes Association. For letter sent to PVE City Council members encouraging them to be well informed before deciding on whether to appeal, click here. For a similar letter send to the Directors of the PV Homes Association, click here.
6/4/15 PVHA Intent Clarified. The Defendants have argued that PVHA has full authority to interpret the intent of PVHA when it transferred parklands to PVE in 1940 including the "forever parklands' clauses those deeds. The Judge stated that she did not think they have that latitude. Today we obtained from a public records request a letter in August 2010 from Sid Croft, the attorney for PVHA, in which he stated the PVHA was strongly opposed to re-zoning Lots C & D. In his letter, Croft quoted and attached a letter written in 1940 by Charles Henry Cheney, one of the original architects for the Palos Verdes Project tin the 1920s. In that letter, Cheney speaks passionately that "our park system is the central feature and most distinguishing feature of the city plan." To read the whole letter, click here. Why the radical reversal by PVHA since 2010?
5/29/15 Court Hearing on Motion for Summary Judgment. Judge Barbara Meiers indicated a tentative ruling in favor of CEPC. We will post the final ruling as soon as those documents are received, but for highlights, click here. For the full transcript, click here.
5/26/15 Defendants Objected to Facts Introduced by Plaintiffs, by filing three additional documents. For Defendants' Joint Evidentiary Objections to Reply Declaration of John Harbison and Motion to Strike, click here. For Defendants' Joint Reply to Plaintiffs' Opposition to Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, click here. For Order Granting Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, click here.
5/22/15 CEPC Reply to Defendants Arguments. For the narrative in support of MSJ, click here. For John Harbison's Declarations in Support of MSJ, click here. For CEPC's Response to Declarations of Lore Tilburg and Sid Croft, click here. For CEPC's Response to Defendants' Joint Evidentiary Objections, click here. For CEPC's Reply to the Separate Statements of Undisputed Material Facts in Support of MSJ, click here. For CEPC's Opposition to the Defendants' Joinder, click here. For CEPC's Memorandum in Opposition to the Defendant City of PVE Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, click here. For CEPC's Evidence in Opposition to the Defendant City of PVE Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, click here. For CEPC's Separate Statement of Undisputed Material Facts in Opposition to Defendanat CIty of PVE's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgement, click here.
5/22/15 Defendant City of PVE Reply in support of their MSJ. For the reply, click here.
5/15/15 Defendants submit their responses to our MSJ. For the Joint Opposition Narrative, click here. For the Declaration of attorney Lore Hilburg (expert witness), click here. For Declaration of Sid Croft (Attorney for PVHA), click here. For the Declaration of Dan Bolton (engineer for the Luglianis), click here. For the Declaration of Sherri Repp-Loadsman (Planning and Building Director of PVE), click here. For the Declaration of Brant Dverin (attorney for PVHA), click here. For the Defendants' Joint Evidentiary Objections, click here. For the Separate Statement of Material Facts in Opposition to MSJ, click here. For the Compendium of Non-California Authorities in Support of Defendants' Opposition to MSJ, click here. For PVE City's Opposition to the MSJ, where they asked to be excused, click here.
3/13/13 Defendant City of PVE Files Cross-Motion for MSJ to be removed from the case. For the narrative cross-motion for MSJ, click here. For the Volume of Evidence in support of their MSJ, click here. For the Separate Statement of Undisputed Material Facts, click here. For the Proposed Order, click here.
3/5/15 Second Ex Parte Application to Set Briefing Schedule and Single Hearing Date for Motion for Summary Judgement: This second filing by defendants was submitted again to delay the next stage in trial. For the Defendants' application, click here. For the Plaintiff's response, click here. For the transcript of the hearing including the Judge's responses, click here. For the Order setting up the next hearing on May 29 at 9:30am, click here.
2/26/15 Ex Parte Application to Set Briefing Schedule and Single Hearing Date for Motion for Summary Judgement: This filing by defendants was submitted to delay the next stage in trial. For the Defendants' application, click here. For the Plaintiff's response, click here. For the Judge's denial, click here.
12/16/2015 Defendants send letter indicating they plan on citing the Marketable Title Act as justification that they do not need to honor and follow deeds. What is interesting about this strategy is that PVHA (with the same Board Members) successfully won a suit wherein they argued that the Marketable Title Act does not apply. Now PVHA is arguing that they should be allowed to sell under the Marketable Title Act. This reversal flies in the face of the doctrine of judicial estoppel (which means that once you have taken a position in litigation and prevailed you may not thereafter take the opposite position). You can read more about that doctrine in a case -- click here. For the PVHA's attorney's letter stating this new strategy, click here.
12/5/2014 CEPC Files Motion for Summary Judgment: The purpose of the motion is ask Judge Meiers to rule on the central legal question of our lawsuit: does the City of Palos Verdes Estates have the power to sell public parkland to a private party? The motion is scheduled to be heard in February. For Memorandum in Support of Motion click here; for Separate Statement of Undisputed Material Facts in Support of Motion click here; For Evidence in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment click here. For Proposed Order click here
11/4/14 Favorable Court Ruling on Defendants' Demurrers and Motions to Strike. Since June 2014, the City of Palos Verdes Estates, the Palos Verdes Homeowners Association and the Luglianis have filed a series of legal challenges to our lawsuit asking that the case be dismissed without a trial. On November 4, 2014, Judge Barbara Meiers denied these challenges and ruled that our lawsuit has sufficient merit to move forward to a trial. For Judge Meiers' decision, click here.
11/4/14 Defendant Responses to Special Interrogatories, Requests for Production and Requests for Admission. As we proceed to the next stage of preparing for trial, CEPC has asked defendants to confirm certain "facts" so that the trial process is more efficient. This summary presents the response fo the three defendants to each of the requests. We found the degree of denial of the obvious somewhat shocking, but you should form your own conclusions. -- click here
6/17/14 Second Amended Petition: This condensed document restates and clarifies the multiple legal documents previously filed by CEPC and included in this website. The Judge asked us to condense our arguments and focus on the legal basis of the sale of parklands based on the written restrictions in the deeds and Protective Restrictions, and we have complied. It is simpler to follow, and will be the basis upon which the Court rules. click here
6/4/14 Letters to PVHA and PVE City Council about "Open Space Action Article in 1969 -- click here for a very relevant article published in 1969 on PVE Open Space and the intentions behind the Protective Restrictions. Click here for a letter referring to this article sent to PVHA Directors and click here for a similar letter sent to the PVE City Council
5/14/14 PVE City Supplemental Brief to Support Demurrer -- click here
4/11/14 Tentative Ruling by Court on Defendants' Demurrers and Motions to Strike. This tentative ruling reflects Judge Meiers' first impressions on the case, and the merits of the arguments presented. -- click here.
3/28/14 Letter to PVHA Board clarifying the legal basis for the CEPC lawsuit, and pointing out that the information in the 1940 deeds (that had been illegally withheld from the discovery process by the PVHA and PVE CIty) clearly proved that PVHA had to abide by the stronger restrictions it placed on the property when it wrote those restrictions into the 1940 deed transferring the Via Panorama Parkland to the City of PVE. Under those more stringent restrictions, the property must "be used and administered forever for park and/or recreation purposes only" and "shall not be sold or conveyed, in whole or in part, ... except to a body suitably constituted by law to take, hold, maintain and regulate public parks." Further, it binds all future owners (including PVHA) of the property to those restrictions. Therefore, PVHA clearly acted illegally by selling the property to a private individual for his own private use. -- click here
3/15/14 Correspondence Notices from City of PVE Citing Encroachments and Demanding Remediation 2003 - 2011: This file contains letters during the period 2003 - 2011 from the City of PVE Code Enforcement Officer and Public Works Director citing illegal encroachments by the Luglianis and demanding they be removed. When the MOU was developed in 2012 and the City of PVE, PVHA and the Palos Verdes Unified School Districts together were paid $2 million by the Luglianis, enforcement efforts were dropped. The City now has asserted in Court Filings in our case that the City has no obligation to enforce its Municipal Code in this matter, even though its own Code specifies that "shall" is "mandatory". For the letters, click here.
3/10/14 Status Update on the Court Case: The Court issued a ruling on the demurrer motion, and we responded by filing an amended petition. The court then issued a similar ruling without leave to amend on the amended petition. We have decided to seek appellate review of this decision. Here are the documents and a brief summary of each:
- 7/15/13 Lugliani et al file briefing to support demurrer (click here). Lawyers representing the Luglianis argued that the Palos Verdes Homes Association has a right but not a duty to enforce the parkland restrictions; therefore they don’t need to pay any heed to the restrictions whenever they decide to ignore them. This is a creative argument, but it falls apart because PVHA’s bylaws written in 1923 specifically say they have a duty to enforce. The lawyers also argued that we did not have any standing to sue because we did not participate in the MOU. This is also incorrect, because as a taxpayer and resident we are a party to the protective restrictions that we seek to see followed and enforced. They also claimed that it was an issue of one neighbor disgruntled with the actions of another neighbor, which is also incorrect since 121 residents from many areas across PVE have signed letters objecting to the sale of parkland.
- 7/16/13 PVE City files briefing to support demurrer (click here). The City Attorney argued that any municipality has full “Police Power” and cannot be bound by any private contract, even one to which they were a signed party and specifically accepted the “forever parkland” clauses.
- 10/11/13 CEPC flies its response to demurrer by Lugliani et al (click here) and demurrer by PVE City (click here). Our briefing refutes these arguments, and makes some additional ones. For instance, we cited a staff report and Resolution passed in 2005 that specifically states that the City will enforce removal of all encroachments and defend the Protective Restrictions; those documents are also available on the website for your reference. We also cite a case where the City tried to build a maintenance facility on parkland and the courts enforced the parkland covenants over the City’s objections; thus they cannot remake claims that have already been decided by the courts. For supporting exhibits for the response to Lugliani et al demurrer, click here. For supporting exhibits for the response to PVE City demurrer, click here.
- 10/18/13 PVE City and Lugliani et al file their replies to CEPC response. For PVE City reply, click here. For Lugliani et al reply, click here.
- 10/28/13 Court Ruling on the Demurrer (click here). In favor of the defendants: “The demurrers to the third cause of action for writ of mandate are sustained with leave to amend on the ground that there is no ministerial duty shown in the pleading.” Note that this ruling only affected one of our three legal theories in the petition.
- 11/7/13 Amended Petition by CEPC (click here). We filed an amended petition (First Amended Petition for Writ of Mandate and Complaint for Injunctive Relief) with the court. It addresses the issue of ministerial duty more specifically than the original petition filed last May and removed the PVPUSD as a party to the suit. Through the discovery process, we were able to obtain information that supported our contention that the City and Homes Association have a duty to enforce the CC&Rs and deed restrictions that govern us.
- 12/5/13 Lugliani et al files briefing to support demurrer on First Amended Petition (click here for demurrer, and click here for motion to strike portions of the First Amended Petition).
- 12/5/13 PVHA changes laws firm (click here) and files briefing to support demurrer (click here). Their new argument is that "shall" in the Protective Provisions really means "may", and thus they have a "right but not a duty" to enforce the restrictions and protect parkland from sale or encroachments.
- 12/6/13 PVE City files briefing to support demurrer on First Amended Petition (click here).
- 12/19/13 CEPC files Responses to Defendants' briefings. For opposition to Lugliani click here. For opposition to PVHA, click here. For opposition to PVE City click here. Other documents filed include Opposition to Lugiani Motion to Strike (click here), Request for Judicial Notice on Lugliani Demurrer (click here), Request for Judicial Notice on PVHA Demurrer (click here).
- 1/7/14 Judge O'Brien ruled in favor of the defendants in the writ mandamus part of the case saying he saw "no ministerial duty" that requires the CIty and PVHA to abide by the deed restrictions. We have decided to seek appellate review of this decision
3/11/14 Deeds and Resolution transferring Tract Containing Panorama Parkland from PVHA to City of PVE in 1940: These documents impose more stringent conditions on the parklands, including "parkland forever" language and "prohibition on sale of parklands. For Deed of portion of Lot A in Tract 8652, click here. For Deed of portion of Lot A in Tract 7540, click here. For the Resolution 12 in City Council Minutes accepting the parklands from PVHA, click here.
3/10/14 CEPC Files Appeal on Writ of Mandate: Click here for the brief. For the attachments mentioned in the brief, click here for volume 1 and click here for volume 2. (The attachments are large files so please be patient)
11/19/13 PVE submitted a draft of a new Housing Element plan to the state that asserted that parkland CC&Rs would not allow other uses of that land (including low income housing). So the City is using the CC&Rs when it suits them, and then ignoring them when it does not suit them. Click here for the two-page excerpt from the Housing Element plan that refers to CC&Rs. For the entire document in the “full packet” (it is a large file so please be patient), click here.
10/13/13 PVE Staff Memo and Resolution passed in 2005 on parkland encroachments: We just uncovered this PVE staff report from 2005 which articulates a clear policy by the City of PVE for removal of unauthorized encroachments in the City's parklands. Contrary to what our City has said this past year defending its decision to sell parkland, the memo says "The City wholeheartedly accepted" the deed restrictions in the Protective Covenants. Further the City passed a Resolution R05-32 on removing encroachments that it is clearly now violating in this illegal sale of the Via Panorama parkland. -- click here
10/2/13 Letter to PVE City Council about 900 Via Panorama owners blocking fireroad access with a storage container, in violation of deed restrictions (photos included) -- click here
8/15/13, 8/22/13, and 8/29/13 Letters to the Editor, Palos Verdes Peninsula News: We believe municipal codes, as well as the covenants and restrictions that guide our City should be applied equally to all residents, without prejudice. As such, John Harbison submitted a Letter to the Editor of the Peninsula News, and the letter asked why all City Councilmembers sought prosecution of a group of people that had cleared brush from the Douglas Trail (a neglected responsibility of the City) while ignoring 38 years of extensive digging and grading on the parkland adjacent to 900 Via Panorama. This letter was published on August 15, and one resident (Catherine White) published a response the following week. Concerned that she had missed John’s point, he wrote a follow-up letter to set the record straight, and that was published on August 22nd. All three letters are attached -- click here
8/20/13 PVE Planning Commission Meeting: John brought up the issue of encroachments on public pathways and pointed out that there was an encroachment next to a residence seeking approval for revisions on Via Guadalana. While the Planning Director indicated that the Planning Commission normally addresses encroachments when applications are submitted, the lack of a policy addressing these issues made it beyond the Planning Commission’s purview to deny the revisions in this case. The Planning Commission thanked John for his comments and indicated they wanted to be involved in the policy discussion -- click here
7/23/13 City Council Meeting on "Determination of the Scope and Process to Develop a Parklands and Trails Policy": Both John & Renata Harbison made presentations, along with a few other residents in support of maintaining access to parkland, trails and paths. However, there were speeches by residents living next to trails and/or the Del Sol fire road who were very vocal in their desire to shut down trails and access to parkland. Comments by the City Councilmembers seemed to signal they are moving towards reducing or closing access to the parklands around the Del Sol Fire Road and the “Douglas Trail” (originally called the Paseo Del Sol Trail on the 1926 City Map. Since those two tracts of parkland combine to represent about 30% of all parkland in PVE, and some of the other parkland tracks have no public access, we find this disregard for public parkland access very disturbing. Parkland and trail policy and will likely be an agenda item for a City Council Meeting this fall, so stay tuned. -- click here
7/17/13 Letter to PVE City Council in response to inaccuracies in the "legal matters' page of their website -- click here
7/8/13 Comments delivered by Jeffrey Lewis to the PVE Parklands Committee Meeting: In the public comment portion of the agenda, Jeff Lewis (attorney for CEPC) asked why the Parkland Committee was not involved in any way in the 2012 MOU involving the sale of parkland at 900 Via Panorama, despite their charter at the time which was to make “discretionary decisions regarding the maintenance, development and preservation of the City's 500 acres of Parkland and unimproved right-of-way....”. Jeff also pointed out that the PVE City website had re-written the Parkland Committee charter in August 2012 to exclude all references to parkland. He based this on a screenshot of the older website obtained at the “wayback machine” website. Interestingly, the following morning, PVE City’s webmaster added code to their website to disable compatibility with the wayback machine. Was this an attempt to evade scrutiny and destroy evidence? While this behavior by our City seems shocking, it was ineffective since we have screen captures of the earlier charter before the website code modifications were made. -- click here
7/5/13 Letter to PVE City Council with photos of the Via Panorama parkland property being enjoyed by over 200 residents for July 4th fireworks -- click here
6/24/13 Press Release about CEPC petition to Los Angeles Superior Court -- click here.
5/13/13 CEPC petition to Los Angeles Superior Court for writ of mandate and complaint for injunctive relief -- click here.
5/14/13 Agenda for Palos Verdes Estates City Council Meeting references the closed session discussion of CEPC letter. After the closed session, the Mayor or City Attorney will give an oral report in the public session -- click here
This issue was added to PVE Planning Commission Agenda for May 21, 2013. However, it was pulled from the agenda. Instead the PVE City Council met in closed session on May 14, 2013
- Notice as sent to nearby residents -- click here
- Notice published in PV News, in which the City's plan to create a separate zoning for privately-owned Open Space is described -- click here
Letters to the Editor Palos Verdes Peninsula News on this Issue
- Renata Harbison's Response to Robert Calvert's Letter 4/4/13 -- click here
- Robert Calvert's Letter 3/28/13 -- click here
3/22/13 Letter sent to Palos Verdes Homes Association: Articulates why the transaction is illegal and provides all the supporting deeds and documentation to support that -- click here
3/12/13 PVE City Council Hearing was held on Tuesday March 12, 2013. For press coverage:
- 3/15/13 Article in PalosVerdesPatch: "PVE Council Denies Zoning Change" -- click here
- 3/13/13 Article in Palos Verdes Peninsula News: "Controversy regarding privately owned parkland is far from over" -- click here
3/12/13 Four page summary of the legal aspects of the issue -- click here
Tract 8652 Protective Restrictions Palos Verdes Estates Excerpts (these pages are the definitive restrictions, and show the sale of this parkland was illegal) -- click here
3/12/13 One Hundred Residents have sent letters opposing this! Sign and return the Statement via fax (310) 349-3381 or email (email@example.com) to be counted! -- click here
Documents for the 3/12/13 Palos Verdes Estates City Council Meeting on ZC-2/M-902-13 Consideration of a Zone Change of Parcel A adjacent to 900 Via Panorama from Open Space to R-1 Single Family Residential and a Miscellaneous Application for walls exceeding the maximum allowable height:
- Notice of City Council Meeting -- click here
- Agenda -- click here
- Minutes -- click here
- Audio of the meeting (requires Silverlight plugin) -- click here
- Staff Report -- click here
- Full Packet (Agenda, Staff Report, Correspondence, etc.) (large file so please be patient)-- click here
- Correspondence submitted opposing rezoning -- click here
- Letter from Lugliani's Attorney Supporting Rezoning -- click here
- Response to Letter from Lugliani's Attorney -- click here
- Detailed Statement by John & Renata Harbison about 900 Via Panorama Rezoning Application for PVE City Council Meeting 3/12/13 -- click here
- Statement signed by 71 Respondents about the 900 Via Panorama Application (which you can download and sign) -- click here
- 1940 Deed and PVE City Council Resolution #12 specifying parkland use "forever" -- click here
- Tract 8652 Protective Restrictions Palos Verdes Estates Excerpts (these pages are the definitive restrictions, and show the sale of this parkland was illegal) -- click here
- Tract 8652 Protective Restrictions Palos Verdes Estates full document -- click here
- Deed documents for HIstory of Tract 8652 Restrictions -- click here
1940 Deed and PVE City Council Resolution #12 specifying parkland use "forever" -- click here
Deed - Sale of Area A from PVHA to Via Panorama Trust -- click here
Documents from the 2/19/13 Palos Verdes Estates Planning Commission Public hearing on ZC-2/M-902-13 Consideration of a Zone Change of Parcel A adjacent to 900 Via Panorama from Open Space to R-1 Single Family Residential and a Miscellaneous Application for walls exceeding the maximum allowable height:
- Planning Commission Staff Report 2-19-2013 -- click here
- Planning Commission Resolution -- click here
- Map - Parcel A & Area 3 -- click here
- Public Hearing Notice N13-02 - Initial Study -- click here
- May 1, 2012 - City Council Staff Report -- click here
- Council Resolution R12-11 -- click here
- Executed MOU with Exhibits -- click here
- Exhibit 1 (Superior Court Ruling) -- click here
- Exhibit 2a (Protective Covenants) -- click here
- Exhibit 2b (Protective Covenants) -- click here
- Exhibit 3 & 4 (Map & Quitclaim Deed) -- click here
- Deed - Transfer of Area A from City of PVE to PVHA -- click here
- Deed - Sale of Area A from PVHA to Via Panorama Trust -- click here
- Comments from PVE Residents - John Harbison -- click here
- Comments from PVE Residents - Renata Harbison -- click here
- Harbison Presentation -- click here
- Letter signed by 34 PVE Residents -- click here
Documents from the 7/23/12 Palos Verdes Estates City Council meeting which unanimously approved the MOU transaction (Consideration of Resolution R12-21 Accepting Ownership of Certain Open Space Properties Known as Lot C and Lot D from the Palos Verdes Homes Association and Allowing Ownership to Revert to the Palos Verdes Homes Association of Certain City Parkland Designated as Area A and Adjacent to 900 Via Panorama):
- Agenda -- click here
- Minutes -- click here
- Audio of the Meeting (requires Silverlight plugin) -- click here
- 7/18/12 Staff Report -- click here
- Full Packet (Agenda, Attachments -- be patient since this is a large file) -- click here
Documents from the 5/8/12 Palos Verdes Estates City Council meeting which unanimously approved the MOU transaction (Resolution R12-11; Consideration of Memorandum of Understanding Among the City of Palos Verdes Estates, the Palos Verdes Homes Association, the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District, and the Property Owners of 900 Via Panorama (Thomas J. Lieb, Trustee, The Via Panorama Trust U/DO May 2, 2012, Together with Trusts for the Benefit of Related Parties) Regarding Resolution of Enforceability of Deed Restrictions on Property Owned by PVPUSD and of Encroachment in City Parkland Near 900 Via Panorama and Disposition of Certain Open Space Properties (Lots C & D)):
- Agenda -- click here
- Minutes -- click here
- Audio of the meeting (requires Silverlight plugin) -- click here
- 5/1/12 Staff Report -- click here
- Full Packet (Agenda, Minutes, MOU, Attachments -- be patient since this is a large file) -- click here
- Attachment A: Resolution R12-11 -- click here
- Attachment B: Memorandum of Understanding and Exhibit 1 (Judgment in Case No. BC431020) -- click here
- Attachment C: 1924 Grant Deed - Protective Restrictions -- click here
- Attachment C: 1924 Grant Deed - Declaration of Establishment of Basic Protective Restrictions, Conditions, Covenants, Reservations, Liens and Charges Affecting the Real Property to be Known as Parcels A and B -- click here
- Attachment E: Exhibits 3 (Map) & Exhibit 4 (QuitClaim Deed) of Memorandum of Understanding -- click here
- Comments made by Joseph Barnett (who is a former mayor of PVE and served on the Planning Commission for 18 years) expressing concerns -- click here
Documents from the 10/25/05 Palos Verdes Estates City Council meeting which established a process for enforcing parkland encroachments. For the staff report click here, and for the Resolution R05-32 click here. For the PVE Municipal Codes on Enforcement, click here for Section 12.04 and click here for Section 17.32