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If ‘Loser Lawyering’ Continues …

Again, the court (LASC Case No. 23STCP02614) has castigated La Cañada Flintridge for continuous noncompliance with California Housing Accountability Act.
Judge Beckloff’s detailed and lengthy March 4 decision orders the city to process developer 600 Foothill’s application to construct a five-story building of 81 housing units (only a small fraction of which are “affordable”) plus offices plus hotel, per HAA’s “builder’s remedy” provisions.
The March 4 opinion repeatedly recounts that arguments of respondent city of La Cañada Flintridge’s counsel are “unpersuasive,” “not fully developed, lack sufficient analysis of governing principles,” that respondent’s analysis is “not entirely clear and [is] undeveloped in [its] brief,” and that had city believed its housing element to be substantially compliant, but it should have sought judicial declaration. The court found no merit in city’s efforts to blame developer and government agencies for its predicament. The only “good news” in the decision is comprised of findings that petitioners failed to demonstrate discriminatory intent or bad faith on the city’s part.
In a prior ruling last year, the court deemed constitutional defenses of city waived because they were “inadequately argued” by city’s counsel. California Constitution Article XI Section 7 grants municipalities authority and sovereignty to enact local regulations in the interests of public peace, safety, morals and health. The city, or residents themselves, must now ably apprise the court (i) as to constitutional and CEQA infirmities in contentions of petitioners developer and state of California, as well (ii) as to predictable “real world” adverse health and safety consequences of waiving zoning in a “school neighborhood” where numerous crossing guards already are stationed and where traffic congestion already impedes emergency response.
The city has seemingly been misguided for years as to HAA process and associated litigation, such that it is now plainly evident that the city has lost credibility with the court. Absent fresh perspective on the pending legal predicament, residents will suffer the arguably unconstitutional HAA “punishment.” The “builder’s remedy” is a “massive boon for developers” and “punishment for cities,” Jack Fleming wrote in the L.A. Times on March 7.
The writer, Klibanow, is inviting the city’s response in this paper.

Linda S. Klibanow, Esq.
Klibanow Conflict
Resolution Services
La Cañada Flintridge

First published in the April 4 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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