A lawsuit has been filed concerning the assignment of the Kingswood Village apartments in Marina del Rey and actions by the new lessee of the parcel.
The Coalition to Save the Marina, the Marina Tenants Association and three individuals — Maryann Weaver, Silvia de Silvia and Blade Thomas — filed a taxpayer class action lawsuit Wednesday, July 19th, in Los Angeles Superior Court against the County of Los Angeles; the assignee of the Kingswood parcel, Archstone-Smith Operating Trust; and Kingswood Village Apartments-Marina.
A hearing date of the suit has been set for Wednesday, August 18th.
Richard I. Fine & Associates is the plaintiff’s attorney.
The plaintiffs are alleging that the county “abandoned and abrogated” a section of the master lease between the county and the lessee that mandates price controls.
The plaintiffs also allege that in the manner the county assigned the lease and extended the term of the lease, the county violated the state constitution and “fostered causes of action for fraud, deceit, negligent misrepresentation, and unfair competition and injunctive relief.”
“It is not appropriate to comment on any pending litigation,” said John Musella, a spokesman for County Supervisor Don Knabe, within whose Fourth Supervisorial District the Marina lies.
The plaintiffs also allege that Archstone “fostered causes of action for fraud, deceit, negligent misrepresentation, and unfair competition and injunctive relief” because of alleged misrepresentations regarding tenant evictions.
“Archstone acknowledges the lawsuit, but is unable to discuss it due to pending litigation,” said Archstone corporate communications representative Heather Campbell.
Fine alleges that as late as Wednesday, July 14th, the county violated the state constitution by “giving public funds and property [the Marina del Rey county-owned parcel] to private people by refusing to control prices and rents” as required by the master lease between the county and the lessee of the Kingswood parcel, now held by Archstone.
The plaintiff’s attorney claims that a lease option for the Kingswood parcel was negotiated with Archstone and the county, without a required public hearing and no public bidding for the parcel was involved before the county assigned the parcel to Archstone.
The lawsuit alleges that “on or about March 3rd, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the option” to extend Archstone’s Kingswood lease for 20 years, until March 31st, 2042.
“Archstone paid an option fee upon execution of the option of $100,000 to the County of Los Angeles and pursuant to the option, the price to be paid by Archstone to the County of Los Angeles upon acceptance and exercise of the option is $2.21 million less than the $100,000 option fee,” Fine said.
“This is approximately two percent of the price Archstone paid to [the previous Kingswood lessee] and its management company for the remaining 18 years” on the lease, Fine said.
“This is a very serious problem. Either money or other benefits changed hands or the individuals involved in the lease are too stupid to hold public office,” Fine alleged.
“We challenge the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to tell us which it is,” said Fine.
Fourteen causes of action, a writ of mandate, and a request for a court-appointed trustee to oversee the Kingswood Village parcel are included in the amended complaint.
A motion for change of venue was also filed.
The plaintiffs alleged that “plaintiffs cannot receive a fair trial, and no judge is qualified, due to Superior Court judges receiving local judicial benefits, in cash, in the amount of $30,000 a year, from the County of Los Angeles general fund in addition to their state salary, which is in violation of the California Constitution and the 1997 Trial Court Funding Act,” Fine said.
Coalition to Save the Marina president Don Klein criticized the manner in which County Department of Beaches and Harbors director Stan Wisniewski has been attempting to justify increased rents at Kingswood Village.
Klein alleged that the Marina director is attempting to convince the public and residents of Kingswood Village Apartments that his department’s use of “comparable rates” in the geographic area and comparable rents elsewhere in the marketplace are authorized by law.”
“Nothing is further from the truth.
“This is just another county spin cycle, with a classic study in circular logic and bovine scatology,” Klein claimed.