Montebello council refuses to release report detailing $1 million settlement with Natasha Lane developer – California News

Montebello council refuses to release report detailing $1 million settlement with Natasha Lane developer – California News




Montebello will not release a report analyzing whether the city council should have agreed to settle a developer’s demand to be reimbursed for street improvements it made on one of its projects.

Initially a $4 million claim, the city settled the developer’s lawsuit in January for $1 million.

City Council members on Wednesday refused to vote on a request by Councilman Bill Molinari to release the report written by the city’s attorney, Stephen Owens, looking at the 2014 claim made by the developer, Garfield Financial Corp. His motion died when no one seconded it.

News of the settlement wasn’t released until May after public records requests by the Southern California News Group and a Montebello resident.

Garfield’s claim

Garfield claimed it hadn’t been reimbursed for street improvements it made as part of a 2005 project for 20 single-family homes on Natasha Lane, a cul-de-sac next to the Rio Hondo River off Whittier Boulevard.

The developer alleged the failure to pay was the result of personal spite from Molinari, then the city’s mayor.

The majority of the council Wednesday night said they refused to release the report because they did not want to give up their attorney-client privilege.

“It seems illogical,” Councilwoman Vanessa Delgado said. “It is illogical that we would release it. It does not protect the city. I just want to move on.”

Why release the report

Molinari had a very personal reason for making the legal review publicly available. He wanted to clear his name, he said.

“On several occasions (Mayor Vivian Romero) has raised the issue that we paid an attorney ($90,000) to…

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