“Look, you have very good arguments they are squandering money here…”

Jun 18, 2024

While Judge Chalfant did not approve our petition and grant our request for an immediate injunction of taxpayer funds (as costs of the Venice Dell project are continuously misrepresented), he did make it clear the City must take the project back to City Council to review the evidence supporting a $1/year lease for the next 99 years. That’s a big win for us!

We very much appreciate the judge’s candor in discussing and supporting our serious concerns about the City’s lack of financial accountability regarding the project.

We argued the correct time for Council and the public to see the analysis required to “gift” away publicly-owned land was at the time of approval of the Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA).

Judge Chalfant agreed the time to share the required analysis and related evidence was earlier in the process before the vote to approve the DDA, but he gave “great deference” to the City’s interpretation of its own regulation to allow the disclosure of this critical information later, when the land lease is actually “conveyed”. This is ridiculous, as we all know by that time the $1/year lease rent amount is essentially a done deal, even having been communicated to funders as if the lease has been approved.

Still it’s a win for us that all eyes will be on this project as it must go back to Council now to approve the lease agreement.

Check out a few provocative comments from the Judge, acknowledging our concerns:

  • “I agree with you on momentum and policy… I do think Mr. Hall is correct it would be better if it happened at this DDA stage. But, it is not required. Rather, the city council must consider whether this conveyance is a waste of taxpayer funds at the time it approves the lease with the developer”.
  • “If the City is going to approve a multi-million dollar property for a ground lease of a dollar, they better have some support for that right?”
  • “You’re saying… ‘we need to shed light on these sneaky deals’ and I totally agree with that.”

Meanwhile, we expect this to be quite the wakeup call when City Council (and the public!) finally sees the manipulated analysis used to justify the below market land value to lease away our last open space in Venice to a Hollywood Developer.

Next up, we’re very curious to see what changes the City will be making to the plans for the public parking garage portion of the project in order to seek approval at Coastal Commission. No impact on the General Fund? Sure, let’s see about that…

We all continue to learn almost daily, the squandering of taxpayer dollars is out of control for these types of projects, and our exposure of the City’s lack of accountability through our legal actions is critically important.

Unfortunately, fighting city hall isn’t cheap! With so much at stake here, we thank those who continue to support us and ask that you reach out to anyone who has not yet donated to dig deep- we need to pay our lawyers!

With appreciation,
The Team at Safe Coastal Development