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Op/Ed: Gold Line Chairman on Troubled Monrovia Land Deal

Metro Gold Line Construction Authority Doug Tessitor writes that lawsuits against Monrovia by a property owner are a significant hindrance to reaching a deal with the city.

In 2010 the Construction Authority learned it was required to build a maintenance and operations facility to complete the Foothill Extension from Pasadena to Azusa as a requirement of the Funding Agreement between the Authority and Metro.

Since then the Authority proceeded to environmentally review the facility alternatives. In January 2011, the Authority Board certified the final environmental document and selected a 24-acre site in the City of Monrovia for the facility. This decision was supported by the City. We then began negotiating to purchase the land within the selected site, including 14 acres owned by the City of Monrovia and its Redevelopment Agency and 10 more owned by multiple private property owners. 

By March 2011, the Authority and City had come close to agreeing on a $56 million deal for the city-owned properties, based entirely on, of course, the City’s ability to sell its land free and clear without litigation or other encumbrance. In fact, the draft Purchase and Sale Agreement stated there was no threatened litigation. It was not until March 22, 2011 that the Authority was made aware of a 2004 covenant between the City of Monrovia and an adjacent property owner allegedly prohibiting the transaction between the City and the Authority, and that the City would not be able to sell its land without embroiling the Authority in very costly and schedule-threatening litigation. This property owner has since filed 2 lawsuits, one challenging CEQA and the other against the City of Monrovia contesting the sale and purchase of the City’s properties.

These facts materially change the Authority’s ability to pay $56 million as part of a deal for the City’s properties and pose a significant risk to the viability of the entire project. The Authority very much believes that the City should be involved in resolving this situation.

Given the new conditions, the Authority is seeking the City’s partnership in sharing some of the costs to settle with the private property owner and resolve the City’s lawsuit regarding its 2004 covenant with the same property owner.  At this point, however, it does not appear that the City considers that it has any responsibility in the litigation or the cloud over its property.

The Authority’s options are clear: we can give into the demands of a few property owners and possibly bankrupt, shorten and/or significantly delay the project; or we can take every step reasonably necessary to complete the project to Azusa on time and within budget while preserving resources to extend light rail to the county line.

Doug Tessitor
Board Chairman
Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority

This letter was sent to Patch and other media outlets Friday evening.

Tom Adams June 11, 2011 at 03:26 PM
Given the fact that none of our neighboring communities are willing to have the Train Yard in their backyard it amazes me that the Metro Gold Line Construction Authority takes exception to Monrovia’s offer to sell land to them. Monrovia didn’t start out wanting a Train Yard, Monrovia was only willing to take this after everyone else said no thank you, no thank you to having an industrial use that pays no taxes in an area that is ripe for desirable development, development that pays taxes and generates real revenue for Monrovia. I am troubled by the fact that the cities along this extension, the very cities that will benefit from the Gold Line coming, the very cities that have said “not in our back yard”, are not willing to share in this burden. Perhaps if 10 cities along the extension agreed to shoulder 10% of the cost of the legal problems then this could move forward, forward as a true partnership, not one where some expect Monrovia to bear the biggest burden. I submit that if the Metro Gold Line Construction Authority and neighboring cities aren’t willing to step up and do the right thing for the team, perhaps they should take their trains elsewhere and fix them
sayitisntso June 11, 2011 at 04:16 PM
Tom, I agree with your comments 100%, To Doug Tessitor, I'd say you are learning that the Monrovia City Manager and Attorney along with the current Mayor Lutz are not very close friends with the TRUTH. Words that come to my mind are Devious, Dishonest and Lacking the Intelligence that they believe everyone else lacks. To the GLCA, I say put the Maintenance Yard in Glendora. With Doug Tessitor being the Mayor of Glendora and Board Chairman of the GLCA that should be a very easy process. Doug Tessitor needs to step up to the Plate and Hit a Home-run for the Gold Line.
Jesse Lomas June 12, 2011 at 03:24 AM
"The Authority’s options are clear: we can give into the demands of a few property owners and possibly bankrupt, shorten and/or significantly delay the project; or we can take every step reasonably necessary to complete the project to Azusa on time and within budget while preserving resources to extend light rail to the county line." Mr Tessitor, That seems like a threat YOU'RE willing to carry out. While I agree on a few land owners may be holding the project up, comments like these are NOT helpful... So, who IS really holding things up because "they" can't get their way - City or Gold Line Contruction Authority? You don't decide on budget, budget is allocated to the project by L. A. county and the State of California...
Jesse Lomas June 12, 2011 at 02:45 PM
As an addendum to the above posting by myself I wish to offer the following suggestion. Drag everyone into a meeting - GLCA, City and the property holders and TALK. If the attornies need to be involved then fine (they will make their money out of it) but this has to be a make or break meeting - ultimatum if you like. The Gold Line has been delayed enough by decisions made elsewhere - federal, state, county - and if its going to go forward then it must happen. Monrovia and other cities have been 'blighted' enough with the recession which is still ongoing despite comments to the contrary. Arcadia has its own fight with the GLCA as I'm sure other cities too.
Robert Parry June 13, 2011 at 04:05 AM
I was quite stunned by the whole turn of events Tuesday night. Either it was second rate political theater of a badly staged variety, or the council (of maybe just the City manager(??)) is utterly clueless. How on earth does an item for a multi-million dollar real estate transaction make it onto the agenda when the two parties haven't reached agreement and haven't communicated (formally) in OVER A MONTH?!?!?!?! Councilman Adams is in the real estate business, and has made a lot of money doing it. Are we to believe he has no clue what the difference between a stalled negotiation and a done deal is? The potential litigation of the neighboring homeowners is a threat to the Gold Line. If the city can't help the customer in its sale to mitigate conditions in order to ensure the prjects' success, then by all means, move on!
Tom Adams June 13, 2011 at 04:22 AM
Robert, thanks for the mention, actually I do know the difference, that is why I voted no.
Alan Fishel June 14, 2011 at 10:18 PM
What is this really all about? Someone thinks that they are the only deal in town and they are going to hold the Gold Line Construction Authority ransom. But the truth is that the proposed property in Monrovia for the Gold Line yards and shops is not the only property available. There are many vacant and underutilized property adjacent the Gold Line Right of way especially east of the San Gabriel River. If property owners and the city of Monrovia do not want to work with the Gold Line Authority, the Authority they should thank Monrovia and move on, no doubt they will find a better location for their yards and shops for a lot less money.

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