Bringing his lawsuit count against Monrovia and the Gold Line Construction Authority to a whopping six, local property owner George Brokate recently filed two new suits against the GLCA and city that each agency characterizes as a legal ploy to extract more money for his Evergreen Avenue land.
In separate lawsuits against each agency filed last month, Brokate's attorneys Robert P. Silverstein and Christopher Sutton accuse the city and GLCA of taking illegal action in order to expedite the Gold Line Foothill Extension light rail project.
Brokate's most recent suit against Monrovia alleges that the city violated the state's environmental review process by approving a . Brokate's attorneys argue that such a law would have an impact on the environment and must therefore comply with the California Environmental Quality Act.
The city's action in adopting the continuation ordinance "constitutes a prejudicial abuse of discretion in that (the city) failed to proceed in the manner required by law and failed to support their decision by substantial evidence...," Silverstein and Sutton wrote in the civil complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Sept. 13.
City Manager Scott Ochoa said he had not reviewed Brokate's lawsuit but added that he was familiar with the allegations, which he dismissed as "specious at best."
Ochoa said Brokate has repeatedly filed lawsuits against the city and GLCA as an "obstructionist" tactic to delay the Gold Line Foothill Extension and force the GLCA to pay an exorbitant amount for his land on Evergreen Avenue. The GLCA needs the land to build a maintenance yard for the Foothill Extension.
"It's basically his effort to try and slow down and stymie anything the city does until such time he, or his client, gets what he wants," Ochoa said. "This has nothing to do with the city. This has to do with his negotiations with the GLCA for the property for which he wants four times the appraised value."
Brokate's lawsuit against the GLCA accuses the board of improperly awarding a to design and construct the Gold Line Foothill extension.
In that suit, filed on Sept. 23, Silverstein and Sutton argue that the GLCA should have separated the design and build phases into separate contracts with separate bidding processes. Awarding one design-build contract was illegal, they say.
"(GLCA) has a plain, clear, and ministerial duty under law to not award contracts jointly for design aspects and construction aspects of public works contracts, and must keep such contracts separate," Brokate's attorneys wrote in the civil complaint.
Lisa Levy Buch, a spokeswoman for the GLCA, also described the lawsuits as nothing more than a tactic to influence the GLCA's negotiations with Brokate.
"We don't think that it has merit," Buch said. "In general, we just think this is the latest in an ongoing series in harrassing lawsuits that this property owner is dreaming up."
The latest lawsuits mark the fifth and sixth legal challenges against the city and GLCA filed by Brokate in the last two years. Brokate lost a case in February that alleged the city violated the Brown Act in putting together a plan for the , a massive mixed-use development planned in anticipation of the Gold Line.
Silverstein and Sutton also that the GLCA's board of directors illegally held other elected posts in cities like Monrovia, representing a conflict of interest. The filing led to legislation that expressly , but not before as an alternate board member.
In addition to those legal challenges, two other lawsuits filed by Brokate remain pending. In one, Brokate's attorneys in Monrovia needed for the Gold Line Foothill Extension to progress.
In the other, by selling land to the GLCA and effectively inviting eminent domain action against him.
Despite the local legal maneuvering, the Foothill Extension challenging the dissolution of redevelopment agencies. That suit might not be resolved until January, and if they have to put the design-build contract back up for bid.