May 13, 2021
It’s Over. A final victory for residents fighting “The Plaza.”
Over a year ago we tried to convince the City that it had to follow the Surplus Land Act before it could give away our public land at 4th and Arizona to a private developer. We agreed with our State legislature that keeping public land public is one of the most important values for a City and its residents.
It’s unfortunate that the City wouldn’t listen to us, to our lawyers or to the public, compelling residents to ask a court to step in so the City wouldn’t violate the law by continuing to negotiate a development agreement for this wildly unpopular project.
As a result, the City will have to pay legal fees over $100,000 to SMCLC’s lawyers to settle this important lawsuit in the public interest. No money was sought by SMCLC and the entire settlement constitutes reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in the lawsuit.
We thank councilmembers Phil Brock, Oscar de la Torre and Christine Parra for their steadfast actions to stop the Plaza and for enabling a fair settlement. And thank you to Mayor Himmelrich, who, in July of last year, was the sole councilmember to vote against continuing negotiations with the Plaza’s developer on the basis that it was illegal to proceed without complying with the Surplus Land Act. This current council majority stood with residents -- as they told us they would -- to do what is right.
These kinds of public interest cases involve complex issues and are time-intensive. We are fortunate to have been represented so ably by Beverly Palmer, a Santa Monica resident and partner in the law firm Strumwasser & Woocher.
Lastly, we are very grateful for the strong public support we received from neighborhood associations and the many individuals who enabled us to bring this important lawsuit. Neighborhood associations, largely underfunded, do vital community work for residents and the city as a whole. This settlement will enable us to reach out to these groups, as well as individual donors, to ask whether they want their donation returned, or for those funds to be used by SMCLC for future campaigns as we continue to fight for residents to have a seat at the table when important decisions are made by our City.