City of Irvine Prevails in Lawsuit Filed by Council Candidate Pat Rodgers

I have received word that the City of Irvine has prevailed in a lawsuit filed by Council candidate Patrick Rodgers and former IUSD Trustee and City Council member Greg Smith.  I post have details as I get them.

The suit, filed by Greg Smith, planning commissioner and former councilman, and former police officer Pat Rodgers, alleges that the city violated state open meeting laws.  The two, allies of Mayoral canddiate Christina Shea and Council member Steven Choi, sued the city to challenge what they claimed was a closed-door “settlement agreement” with a high-rise developer.

Earlier this year, theIrvine City Council in January reached an agreement with Maguire Properties over a deeblopment dispute.  Shea and Choi walked out of the meetings saying the meeting was being held in private and, therefore, in violation of the Brown Act.  The court’s disagreed with that assessment today.

The suit claimed the settlement limited public review by allowing future proposals from the developer to be handled administratively instead of through public hearings.  City planning officials and Maguire disputed that, saying the settlement did not change how future projects would be approved.

The City Council met in private three times to discuss the settlement, starting in October 2007. Maguire did not sue the city, but their lawyers suggested they would take legal action prompting the council to meet in private.

“This actually benefited the city to the tune of $10 million, and not one iota of our planning process has been modified in the process,” said Mayor Beth Krom, who defended holding the meetings in private, told the LA Times.

Shea and Choi actually walked out of two meetings over the issue, abdicating their responsibilities as council members.  We certainly hope the city sues Smith and Rodgers to recover taxpayer dollars spent fighting this unnecessary lawsuit.