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Las Lomas Goes To Court Of Appeals

"Mini-city" project not dead, attorneys contend LA City violated constitutional rights of company.

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A lawsuit filed by Las Lomas developer Dan Palmer and thrown out by a Superior Court judge last month has been resurrected by Palmer’s attorney, who lodged an appeal today with the State Court of Appeal.

The lawsuit sought $100 million in damages from the city of Los Angeles, alleging an extensive environmental impact report was not completed before the LA City Council voted to veto the project in March.

Palmer’s attorney Carlyle W. Hall claims the city violated the company’s constitutional rights to equal protection and due process.

Last month Superior Court Judge David Yaffe ruled that Las Lomas could not proceed with its current complaint against the City of Los Angeles alleging that the City Council acted unlawfully in March 2008 when it halted the environmental review process for arbitrary and discriminatory reasons..

"We believe our claims are meritorious and are convinced that there are fundamental legal issues that must be resolved by the Court of Appeal. We were disappointed in the court's decision for ourselves, for the residents of Southern California, and for all those who recognize that the City Council broke the law. We are confident that the Court of Appeal will recognize that the City must answer for its illegal decision to halt its review of the Las Lomas Project," said Carlyle W. Hall, Jr., counsel for Las Lomas.

An appellate court ruling in favor of Las Lomas would be consistent with the City Attorney's prior and repeated warnings to the City Council that the City would be vulnerable to litigation if it failed to complete the environmental review process.

"It is disappointing that City resources and taxpayer dollars are being expended when the likelihood of Las Lomas prevailing in its appeal is very good. The real losers are the taxpayers who will have to compensate Las Lomas because the City's improper conduct violated its state and federal constitutional rights to equal protection and due process. The damages in this case could exceed $100 million," added Mr. Hall.

Las Lomas was proposed as the region's first smart growth community and the northern gateway to the San Fernando Valley. Developers said it would be an antidote to urban sprawl, with jobs, schools, parks, museums, shops, restaurants and community activities all within walking distance of one another, reducing the need for car trips to the rest of the Valley and region.

The Santa Clarita City Council opposed the project because of its impact on traffic and infrastructure. The Los Angeles City Council voted against the project in March 2008 for the same reasons. Dan Palmer left the company on Dec. 12, 2008, the same day the lawsuit was denied by the Superior Court.

"Las Lomas is a growth model for the region's future; it is not going to go away just because of one court decision," said Edward Park, spokesperson for Las Lomas.