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City Council members may face criminal charges over Brown Act violations

City Council members may face criminal charges over Brown Act violations
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“A small act is worth a million thoughts!!!”

Ai Weiwei 

Studio City residents may be interested to know that longtime resident Eric Preven has formally challenged the City Council’s rejection of public comment at the December 16, 2015 Special City Council meeting.

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The Brown Act explicitly states that “Every notice for a special meeting shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body concerning any item that has been described in the notice for the meeting before or during consideration of that item.”   Item 65, on the December 16 Special meeting agenda related to the Sportsmen’s Landing clearly met that criteria yet the full City Council, even when informed of their obligation to hear comments, refused.
For this reason, the City’s Attorney’s office has been asked to cure and correct the violation; rescind within 15 days any actions taken, until the matter can be properly re-noticed and re-agendized in compliance with the Brown Act.
We’ll see how that goes… and definitely keep you posted.
Eric Preven
———————————————————————————————————————————
Copypaste:
—–Original Message—–
From: Eric Preven <esp3800@aol.com>
To: terry.kaufmann-macias <terry.kaufmann-macias@lacity.org>
Cc: Sharon.Dickinson <Sharon.Dickinson@lacity.org>; Brian.walters <Brian.walters@lacity.org>; Holly.walcott <Holly.walcott@lacity.org>; newstips <newstips@latimes.com>
Sent: Mon, Dec 28, 2015 3:52 pm
Subject: Notice to City of Brown Act Violation – December 15, 2015 PLUM meeting item 5, December 16, 2015 Special City Council meeting item 65

December 28, 2015
 
Eric Preven
CRD2
3758 Reklaw Drive
Studio City, CA 91604
 
 
Via  Email 
Terri Kaufmann-Macias, Esq. 
Managing Assistant City Attorney
Land Use Division
200 North Main Street, 7th Floor, MS 140
Los Angeles, CA 90012 
(213) 978-8233
213-978-8214
 
Holly Walcott
City Clerk City of Los Angeles
200 N. Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012 
213-978-1029
 
Case No.  15-0634
ENV-2 014-887-MND; 
DIR-2014-886-SPPA-SPP-2A 
DIR-2010-1000-SPP-SPPA 
 
Dear Ms. Kaufmann-Macias and Ms. Walcott:
 
By this letter, I am protesting the City’s Brown Act violations on Tuesday December 15, 2015 at the 2:30pm Planning and Land Use Management Committee meeting re:  CF 15-0634 [Item 5] and the Special City Council Meeting re: CF 15-0634  [Item 65] on Wednesday December 16, 2015 at 10:15am.
 
The Brown Act and Special Meetings
 
Government Code Sections 54954.3.(a) and  (c) state in pertinent part:
(a) “Every notice for a special meeting shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body concerning any item that has been described in the notice for the meeting before or during consideration of that item.”
 
(c) The legislative body of a local agency shall not prohibit public criticism of the policies, procedures, programs, or services of the agency, or of the acts or omissions of the legislative body. Nothing in this subdivision shall confer any privilege or protection for expression beyond that otherwise provided by law.
 
The agenda of the December 15, 2015 PLUM Committee set forth the following item: 
 
ITEM NO. (5)
15-0634
CD 2
Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) findings, South Valley Area Planning Commission (SVAPC) report and appeals filed by Benjamin M. Reznik, Esq. on behalf of the Ventura Boulevard Associates (Benjamin M. Reznik, Jeffer Mangels and Mitchell LLP, Representative), Patrice Berlin, Steven Quat, and Andrea Sher, on behalf of many SC stakeholders against Landing Project, brought under California Public Resources Code Section 21151 (c) of CEQA, from the determination of the SVAPC in adopting the MND for Case Number DIR-2014-668-SPP-SPPA-2A for the property located at 12833-12835 West Ventura Boulevard and 4218-4230 North Coldwater Canyon Avenue (currently knows as the Sportsmen’s Lodge site, Studio City) within the Sherman Oaks-Studio City-Cahuenga Pass-Toluca Lake Community Plan area. (The SVAPC also sustained the action of the Director of Planning dated April 23, 2015, subject to modified Conditions of Approval).
 
Applicant:  Richard Weintraub, Sportsmen’s Lodge, REW, LLC
Case No. DIR-2014-886-SPPA-SPP-2A
Fiscal Impact Statement:  Yes
Community Impact Statement:  None submitted.
 
On December 15, 2015  the PLUM Committee at its regular meeting conducted a hearing of the Sportsmen’s Landing appeal and recommended to the City Council that the appeal be denied. On December 16, 2015, as a consent item the City Council unanimously approved the denial of the Sportsmen’s Landing appeal, without allowing for any additional public testimony. 
 
Factual Summary 
The odyssey over the Studio City parcel began years ago, when developer Richard Weintraub bought the Sportmen’s Lodge. Weintraub, who is also leasing the neighboring Sportsmen’s Lodge hotel, sought to buy the abandoned fire station. Seven years ago, city officials decided to sell him the adjacent property instead of conducting a public auction.
 
Los Angeles city codes outline a process for selling unused property, including obtaining an appraisal. State law also requires local governments to first offer to sell or lease such properties to other public entities, which L.A. did with the fire station. But the city does not always explain why it decides to sell a property through a direct sale, rather than by auction.
 
A city commission allowed the development project (including the city firehouse) to move forward this year, despite concerns by neighbors about a parking crunch and other possible effects. Several appeals from neighbors along with Ventura Boulevard Associates, which owns the hotel on the same site were filed timely. 
 
The City provided inadequate notice of the December 15, 2015 Planning and Land Use Management Committee (“PLUM”) meeting for the Project. Section 11.5.7 of the Municipal Code sets forth procedures for project requiring approvals under Specific Plans. Section 11.5.7 C.6(b) requires an appellate body to provide 15 days’ notice of a hearing via First Class Mail to owners within a 100-foot radius of the Landing Property.
 
Although the City appears to have provided the required notice for the Commission appeal hearing, the City did not provide the required 15-day notice for the December 15 appeal hearing before PLUM.
 
The appellants have argued that the MND was incomplete and relied on incomplete and inaccurate data, as well as faulty assumptions. The historic resources discussion in the MND only addressed the City’s prior consideration of the Sportsmen’s Lodge complex as a City landmark, but did not consider the historical significance of the complex outside of the designation process. 
 
One of the appellants pointed out in a letter to city lawmakers that Los Angeles sued the company leasing the hotel 3 1/2 years ago for failing to pay hotel and parking taxes.
 
The city later settled for roughly $1.1 million paid in installments, an amount that the city attorney’s office said covered the unpaid taxes and interest, but left off more than $400,000 in city penalties. 
 
Mr. Weintraub’s history with the City and compliance with City requirements provides evidence that compliance does not come automatically, or even easily. 
 
The Project as approved will have severe, significant, and undisclosed or inadequately disclosed impacts on the surrounding community.  
 
As part of the legal battle with the hotel owners, the company tied to Weintraub went to court to demand documents from (and thus retaliate against)  two neighbors who were critical of the Sportsmen’s Landing project.
 
The PLUM committee chair Jose Huizar improperly prohibited a general public comment from Studio City resident Eric Preven on December 15, 2015 moving the committee’s denial of the appeal to a vote at a Special Council meeting on December 16, 2015.  
 
At the full council meeting, despite several efforts to be heard, the resident from CD2 was forcefully and resoundingly denied the opportunity to provide comment. 
 
The Brown Act Has Been Violated.
As the City failed to provide the required notice according to the provisions of its own Municipal Code, which deprived interested persons of adequate opportunity to prepare and provide informed public comment, the City must re-schedule the hearing and provide the proper notice.
 
Public speakers attempted to alert City Staff and elected officials to the violation. 
 
The wholesale denial of public comment is a very serious violation.  As a result of the foregoing, the project approvals must be invalidated, and the actions taken must be rescinded within 15 days. 
 
Demand to Cure and Correct.
If the City does not both re-notice and re-agendize both the PLUM Committee and City Council meeting in compliance with the Brown Act, and rescind within 15 days, the actions taken, we will pursue all available remedies under the Brown Act, including the filing of a petition for writ of mandate. 
 
Thank you for your interest in City Government. 
 
Eric Preven
City Resident from District 2
3758 Reklaw Drive
Studio City, CA 91604

 

 



OurStudioCity.org is here to inform and empower residents. Let’s make local government more responsive to local needs. OurStudioCity.org comes from a group of residents fed up with a group of Studio City “elite” making backroom decisions benefiting THEM and not US. OurStudioCity.org is dedicated to sharing vital local information. We will speak the truth no matter how unpleasant it is. OurStudioCity.org will strive to inform. A repository of information. Want to know more about the Harvard Westlake Project? Sportsmen’s Landing Project? Weddington Golf and Tennis? Mansionization? New developments coming to our neighborhood? A place to ask questions, get answers and share what you know. Get informed prior to attending a Neighborhood Council or Residents Association meeting. Come prepared with probing questions for our SCNC and SCRA representatives.

Comments to City Council members may face criminal charges over Brown Act violations

  • Has a lawsuit been filed due to the Brown Act violation?

    Rick Abrams July 3, 2016 8:52 am Reply
    • A lawsuit has been filed BS160588 by Eric Preven. Happy to update you.
      818-762-7719

      Eric Preven July 7, 2016 10:09 am Reply

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