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Council Approves Redevelopment Survival Plan, Lawsuit Threatened

The City Council approved a "continuation ordinance" to keep its redevelopment agency alive.

The Monrovia City Council took the first step Tuesday to save its redevelopment agency (RDA) from being eliminated by approving an ordinance that would allow the city to pay the state to keep the agency alive.

Under the provisions of two new state laws, cities across California are required to pay the state to keep their redevelopment agencies afloat. Though Monrovia officials hope legal challenges will overturn the laws, the council paved the way to pay $1.1 million in what officials call "ransom money" to save the agency.

"We do reluctantly recommend this to you," said City Manager Scott Ochoa after City Attorney Craig Steele explained that the alternative was to liquidate the agency and turn over the proceeds to the state.

Under the ordinance, the city essentially agrees to make a $1.1 million payment to the state next year and about $262,000 each subsequent year for the right to keep its RDA intact if a fails to overturn the laws requiring the payments.

Robert Silverstein, an attorney for local property owner George Brokate, took the podium Tuesday and again threatened to sue the city if it approved the ordinance.

Silverstein argued that the city law would violate environmental impact regulations because it would cause future redevelopment projects to be rushed through without proper environmental review.

"The proposed approvals will result in unmitigable impacts to the environment from the reasonably foreseeable accelerated approval and construction of redevelopment projects through the city's rushing to get them in 'under the wire,'" reads a written objection letter he submitted to the council.

Steele dismissed the objections as "another sort of scare tactic" from Silverstein, in an effort to stop his client's property from being condemned by the GLCA for use in a proposed rail maintenance yard facility project.

"This is purely an administrative step required by the state legislature," Steele said of the continuation ordinance. "There is nothing in this ordinance that refers to any activity that would result in any physical changes to the environment."

After Steele and Ochoa responded to Silverstein's remarks, City Councilman Tom Adams lashed out at Brokate, saying he was offended that Brokate and his attorneys have disparaged the city's redevelopment efforts.

"Through redevelopment and a lot of good people's efforts, most of Monrovia looks a lot better than Mr. Brokate's property," Adams said.

If Brokate does sue, it will mark the fourth active lawsuit he has pending against the city and GLCA. He sued the city in March for allegedly breaching a settlement agreement and inviting an eminent domain action against him.

He also sued the GLCA in February, claiming that the construction authority failed to conduct a proper environmental review in its plan to locate a rail maintenance yard in Monrovia. Earlier this month, he sued the GLCA again, this time asserting that board members like Glendora Mayor and GLCA Chairman Doug Tessitor cannot legally sit on transportation boards and city councils at the same time.

Brokate and his attorneys also sued the city and lost last year when they argued that the city violated open meetings laws by turning over the maintenance yard environmental review process to the GLCA.

Though more lawsuits may be looming, the passage of a "continuation ordinance" will allow the city to move forward with projects that are already underway, including a maintenance yard deal with the GLCA, according to Ochoa.

Negotiations in that deal have after the .

Iamsam July 20, 2011 at 04:14 PM
"Through redevelopment and a lot of good people's efforts, most of Monrovia looks a lot better than Mr. Brokate's property," Adams said. Completely uncalled for! How dare anyone who sits high and mighty tell anyone that their property is less than. As a home owner, citizen, and tax payer I am insulted. My property doesn't look as nice as yours, but I own it just the same. Appalled. Remember when you are elected to a position you should represent all corners of this city, not just the ones with curb appeal.
Jonathan Lesueur July 20, 2011 at 04:59 PM
iamsam have you walked past his property He does nothing to his property to make it look nice it look like he hasn't invested in the property for a long time. I don't get why he have half his parking lot paved and the other not paved that is kind of lazy on Mr Brokate's part for not finishing it. Another thing That sets his property apart that it needs a remodel Yet he hasn't done that in years. At least make it look nice before you sue so you can say that I invested time in this property and I don't want to lose it.I am saying Mr. Brokate's property has no curb appeal.
Iamsam July 20, 2011 at 05:17 PM
No I have not. But that escapes the point of when is it someone else's position to tell us what to do with our property? My home does not look as nice as some of my neighbors, my house is in need of repairs, paint, gardening. It goes back to it is his property. Is he conducting illegal business on his property? Arrest him. Is he against code violation? Cite him. Is he a nuisance to his neighbors? Fine him. Which I am assuming he is none of the above, just we want his property so let's make him seem less important to run him out. I am in favor of the Gold Line by all means, but in no way, should someone who lives high on the hog or on the hill for that matter make statements about someone else's property. But maybe that is why no one from City Council have ever walked my street.
Jonathan Lesueur July 20, 2011 at 05:40 PM
A home is a little different from a warehouse you are trying to impress the neighborhood and people who drive by. A business is supposed to keep up with times like remodeling every 7- 10 years to keep customers coming. for the fact that his property look likes an old relic from the 60 still. I am glad that Tom Adams lashed out at those lawyers that shows that the city is not scared of them.
RU Free July 22, 2011 at 07:36 PM
Mr. Brokate with all the money your spending on your attorney maybe some can be spent helping feed the homeless.
Steve Buckner July 22, 2011 at 11:18 PM
What do you think the city spends on sueing its citizens. I have been sued by them and the money I spent defending myself wasnt from tax payers money.

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