March 21st, 2018
|Here is an update since our last email on January 22, 2018.
Appeal Court Ruling Confirms PVHA Sold Parkland Illegally
Three justices in the California Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District) issued their ruling on January 30, 2018 on the Motion for Summary Judgment in the case (# BS 142768) CITIZENS FOR ENFORCEMENT OF PARKLAND COVENANTS and JOHN HARBISON (Plaintiffs) vs. CITY OF PALOS VERDES ESTATES, a municipal corporation, PALOS VERDES HOMES ASSOCIATION (PVHA – a California corporation), ROBERT LUGLIANI and DORIS LUGLIANI as co-trustees of the Lugliani Trust, THOMAS J. LIEB, TRUSTEE, THE VIA PANORAMA TRUST U/DO May 2, 2012 (Defendants). The case was filed in May 2013. For the ruling, click here.
The Appeals court unanimously found in favor of the Trial Court’s decision that the PHVA had violated deed restrictions by selling Parkland to a private individual – ordering the sale reversed and encroachments removed. The Appeals Court rejected all the arguments made by the PVHA in the appeal. However, the Appeals Court concluded that the decision was “overly broad” in extending it explicitly to all such deed restricted parkland in PVE, and remanded the matter back to the Trial Judge to narrow the decision to the Panorama Parklands. It also concluded that the City of Palos Verdes had the right to transfer the property to the PVHA, unless it was aware of the PVHA’s intent to sell the parkland to a private party and thereby violate deed restrictions; that matter was sent back to the Trial court to ascertain whether the City was aware of that. We are confident that the Trial court will conclude that the City was aware of the issue since the MOU signed by all Parties specifies that the PVHA would immediately sell the parkland to Lugliani once it received the “Parcel A” Parkland from the City.
In the original ruling, Judge Barbara A. Meiers wrote that the court granted the motion for summary judgment of the plaintiff (CEPC and John Harbison) as against all defendants and denied the City’s cross-motion. The Superior Court ruling:
Notwithstanding the narrowing of scope of the ruling, this decision by the Appeals Court is a big win for all Palos Verdes Estates residents who value our open space which is a critical ingredient in what makes PVE a truly special place to live. It should also be viewed as a win for the Palos Verdes Homes Association, because this secures the validity of the underlying protective restrictions that the founders of our community put in place in the 1920s, making it clear that only a majority (66%) of the PVHA members can modify those restrictions, and that process of amendment can only occur every 20 years. The PVHA Board ‘s charter is to defend these restrictions, and the ruling reinforces that they cannot selectively choose to ignore language in a deed that their predecessors wrote. Thus the ruling reverses an illegal act and returns parkland to its original state.
While the narrower ruling does not go as far as we’d like in protecting parkland forever, we believe it creates a sufficient legal precedent to discourage the PVHA, the City of PVE, and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District from trying to sell any of the approximately 800 acres of parkland and school property in PVE to private parties. The deeds explicitly use language such as ‘parkland forever’ for the use of the public for recreational purposes, and now that is secure for the future. In their Court arguments, both the City of PVE and the PVHA argued that they had discretion to ignore deeds and restrictions, and this ruling affirms that they do not.
The ruling also further solidifies the win by PVHA in the PVUSD case, and the part of the MOU settlement preventing PVPUSD from selling any school property to private parties that it deems no longer necessary. Rather than just relying on the word of the School Board not to sell the land granted to it, this ruling establishes a second Court precedent blocking any future sale of parkland (which was the City and PVHA’s justification of the MOU). Therefore, the stated objective of the City and PVHA is not just met, but exceeded. It’s time that our leaders in local government accept this victory and move on and stop fighting the will of their constituents. Moreover, it’s pointless for the City to continue to fight in court whether it knew the PVHA was going to sell the parkland, since that was a requirement in the MOU that was drafted by the City Attorney (by public admission of then Mayor George Bird in a City Council Meeting on May 9, 2012) and then signed by all the parties.
Over 500 people have signed letters in support of our cause, and this is a big win for all of them. We are grateful to them for their support and to our legal counsel, Jeffrey Lewis of Jeffrey Lewis, Attorney at Law, for his diligent support.
Working together, we have achieved an important victory for our community – preserving an essential aspect of what make Palos Verdes Estates so special – our public Open Space. Thanks to all of you for your support!
Last Chance to vote in PVHA Directors Election — Extended to February 8, 2018
Partly in response to admonishes from the Judge in our “Quorum Lowering” lawsuit, the PVHA Directors on January 11th extended the election in an effort to obtain a quorum.
The above Appeals Court ruling that the current Directors acted illegally in selling parkland is proof positive that we need new leadership. But that cannot happen unless a quorum of 50% is reached. Mailed ballots must be received by Feb 8th, and a ballot box is available in City Hall again. The ballots will be counted by the Inspector of Elections on Feb 13. Therefore, the results will be available at the quorum petition trial on Feb 15.
If you voted already, then thanks! If not, please do not miss this last chance!
PVHA Election Survey
To help us in advocating changes in the election process to the PVHA, please take 2 minutes to complete this survey — click here.
Spread the Word and Encourage Your Friends To Vote
Please download our postcard summarizing the need for new Leadership and email it to your friends. Over 400 supporters of Parkland who understand the need for change in PVHA leadership are on this email distribution from ROBE, so if each of you gets a few of your friends to vote, we may finally reach a quorum. For the postcard, click here.
Tell your friends that they can vote for up to 5 candidates. A quorum is required to make the election binding. Even if they do not have time to study the issues, please encourage them to sign and return their ballot immediately to make sure it is received by the deadline of February 8. That way, their vote of No Preference will count towards a quorum.
The last year a quorum was reached was 2009 — It’s time for a quorum!
Candidate Forum Video
If you or your friends would like to be better informed about the candidates, the League of Women Voters of Palos Verdes Peninsula hosted a Candidate Forum on December 20th in which 6 of the 9 candidates for the PVHA Board of Directors made their case. To see the video, please click here. The video is in two parts, so be sure to also view Part II.
If you’d like to contribute to the campaign or participate in handing out flyers to your neighbors, please contact John Harbison at (310) 739-1838 or email@example.com.
Thank you for your interest and support.