The lawsuit filed against the City of Santa Monica by certain neighboring homeowners in June 2006 challenging plans to develop the Marion Davies Estate at 415 Pacific Coast Highway into a public facility with funds from the Annenberg Foundation has been settled, but for “a little legal writing yet to be done,” Mayor Robert Holbrook told the Mirror on Saturday, September 9.
William F. Delvac, a partner in the Los Angeles law firm of Latham & Watkins which represents the PCH homeowners who brought the action, said that the plaintiffs had signed the papers, and it only remained for the City Council to approve the deal when it met on Tuesday, September 12 (as the Council has since done; story on pg. 2).
Mayor Holbrook expressed pleasure that the dispute had been resolved and said that he thought the public beach club the City is developing “will be a better project because of the input from the neighbors,” including those that brought the action. Lawyer Delvac said, “The mayor was quite constructive” in resolving the litigation.
Joel Brand, chair of Friends of 415 PCH, an ad hoc group formed to support the project, reiterated that “the vast majority of [the proposed beach club’s] neighbors were satisfied” with the project as approved by the City, and that “the neighbors right next door have not supported the lawsuit,” but said that he now was “very glad we can go forward and move on.”
The planned facility at 415 PCH, the former William Randolph Hearst property know as the Marion Davies Estate, is proposed as an “everyman” version of nearby exclusive, members-only beach clubs. The property has been boarded up behind a chain-link fence since the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The public beach club project is funded by an innovative private grant by the Annenberg Foundation.
As approved by the City Council, after input from project neighbors and the public at large, the beach club facility would be subject to various conditions, or “mitigations,” including security staffing, alcohol limitation to beer and wine only, limits on amplified music and other noise restrictions, hours of operation and lighting regulations. Mr. Brand of Friends of 415 PCH said the City had “gone further to accommodate neighbors on this project than anything in recent – or even not so recent – history.”
Although the lawsuit itself addressed other legal issues, lawyer Delvac said at the time it was filed in June 2006 that his clients were in agreement on the substance of the conditions adopted, but that the durability of the conditions was the “only issue” between his clients and the City.
The City took the position that neighboring property owners simply could not demand that a municipality contract with them regarding future limitations on its exercise of its land use permitting powers, while the plaintiff homeowners wanted guarantees that the conditions would remain in place permanently. Mayor Holbrook said this week that “the duration of the conditions” was the focus of settlement discussions. It appears that the parties found meeting ground somewhere between never and forever.
Mr. Delvac said this week that his clients got the mitigation measures that they wanted. When asked what the City gave up to reach the settlement, Mayor Holbrook said, “Nothing.”